Six months ago, I went on a mindfulness-based stress reduction [MBSR] course at The Mindfulness Project, London. It was a tricky time of my life. Not the worst by any means, but I was still suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and had gone on the course to help solidify my existing mindfulness and meditation practice. At the end of the course, we wrote a self care letter to ourselves. A few days ago, I received that very letter and would like to share it with you.
It was interesting to read back the self care letter to myself and also to realise how far I’ve come on my journey even these past six months. As I practice mindfulness and meditation every day, sometimes it’s hard to notice how deep my practice has become in a short space of time. It’s also unbelievable how much my mentality has changed, my behaviour has become calmer and my patience has increased. On the outside, I’m sure much seems the same to those around me, but in myself I feel more resilient, stronger and more confident.
Here’s what my letter to myself said:
You’ve completed the course, but as you’re aware, you’re ready to jump onto the next thing. It’s important not to treat everything as a competition and to step back and enjoy things as they are (and not get competitive about that either!).
You have learnt more patience these 8 weeks and to let go of some of that ‘righteous pride’, so remember the benefits of this and continue to practice this.
Don’t give up or knock yourself down when you get angry, self critical or behave in other ways that you deem ‘disgusting’. Remember that you are only human. You may have some intelligemce and luck, but remember you are still human – you are no better than the next person. That’s not to discourage, but to humble.
Remember / be aware of how lucky you are when things seem rough and take your own advice from better days. You have all you need to survive and thrive, right inside you.
Don’t try to do it all alone, but don’t rely on others to do what only you can do for yourself either. It’s important to take responsibility for you actions and decisions.
Keep smiling, keep practising and remember to exhale when you’re stressed!
All the best, your own friend,
It may seem a ludicrous idea to send yourself a letter, but admittedly this is the second letter in my life that I have sent. The first one I sent was from the viewpoint of me at 80 years old to remind myself of what I want to achieve, to be my gentle self and to not miss out on life. The reality is, a letter to yourself can be a remarkable act of self care and help you take stock of all you can be and achieve.
What my letter mentioned to me (and what I’m glad to say I had continued practising…so much so that it’s all become a natural habit), is to simply be. As a competitive person, I spent most of my life trying to be the best at everything. So much so that even the things I did for fun became a competition. Even the amount of time I could sit in meditation became a competition! Instead of the quality of the experience, I realised I was testing how long I could meditate for, wholly distracted by that competitive notion.
I’ve learnt a greater patience with myself and others. I’ve also become more aware of others, increasingly realising how each of us holds different values and how no one person is better than another.
Perhaps most importantly, I’ve learnt to trust myself more. I used to find that when I was in a predicament, I’d tell everyone about my troubles or woes, almost expecting them to act as some kind of confirmation for my decisions to a path of action. As I became more aware of this, I learnt to listen to myself more. Ultimately, I am the person who will live with the outcomes of my choices, so I don’t necessarily need to confer or seek reassurance. The correct path and answers for each of us all sit within.
Why not try to write a letter of self care? It can do a world of good.