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Allowing what is

The skill of seeing and allowing what ever arises in our experience to be is one of the fundamental skills to find more wellbeing and ease.

We have practiced seeing and allowing what is arising in our experience in the Masterclass, especially in the sessions around focus and awareness. The reason that this is so essential for our wellbeing has been shown in different psychological research. It has become very clear that this is the most effective way of dealing with the different stressors in our life. 

In the ‘old school’ psychology the common wisdom was that you would seek out the thoughts and emotions that were troubling us and try to turn them around. So, for example, if we had thoughts like ‘I am going to fail’ we would identify the thought and tell ourself that we would succeed. 

Another popular way that challenging thoughts and emotions were dealt with in ‘old school psychology’ was with distraction. When we distract ourselves, we are pushing away those things that we do not want to feel or think. We all have strategies to do this, and this is fine, for a while. Chilling out with Netflix, having a beer or wine, meeting up with friends etc. These are all really healthy things to do when we don’t feel great – but the reality is that our challenges will not go away with this strategy. 

If our ‘pushing away’ gets out of control, then we are in fact feeding the difficulty and can even create more difficulty. We can get into a situation where we need a glass of wine to relax, where we avoid being home and keep ourselves busy or where we really need to numb our thoughts. 

Luckily, there is a different way, because as Mark Williams (Founder of the Oxford Mindfulness Centre) wrote in ‘The Mindful way through Depression’

Confronting the thoughts and emotions with ‘positive thoughts’ and ‘logic’ actually feeds the thoughts more (doing mode).

A different approach

In the current psychological thinking the approach to managing challenges and difficulties has changed. It is now common practice to teach people more awareness of their challenges. Not in analysing them or understanding where they came from, but the skill to be with and see their challenges as they arise. The body sensations that come up, the thoughts and emotions that arise, and the impulse to act. Recognising these elements of challenges and difficulties is a critical step in find more calm and wellbeing.

This is one of the basic skills of mindfulness and because it works so well,  you can see a massive explosion of mindfulness based interventions in psychology.

By the end of 2019 there were almost 38.000 pieces of research conducted on mindfulness based interventions. Some of the main results of effectiveness include: 

If you followed the masterclass you may have already experienced that allowing and seeing your challenges changes your relationship with those challenges. But it is not easy. It takes incredible courage to see and be with your challenges. We can start to become more comfortable with this by practicing the skill in meditation.