Mindful storm practice

Tuesday afternoon until Wednesday morning gave my wife and I the most dramatic thunderstorm we’d ever seen in our lives. Normally, I’m a big fan of watching thunderstorms, but as we were in the middle of a new roof installation on our house, I noticed a lot more than just the continual lightning and rumbles of thunder outside!

There it was; anxiety and tension, watching as each blast of lightning continued on, adding torrential rain to the mix…for around 8 hours.

The rain began to leak in after the first hour, first at the windows, then through the ceilings in three rooms. Taking a ladder, we went up to the loft and noticed several leaks – unsurprising as we had been without roof tiles and guttering. Several hours of placing strategic pots, pans, tubs, bowls etc. later, and we’d caught most of the leaks and stopped the ceiling problem.

My wife ingeniously worked out a way to open the windows slightly, putting bin liners in tactical places to divert the water back outside rather than inside.

All through it, we practised mindfulness. We noticed our tension, we noticed our worry, and we breathed with it. We took moments to sit and ground ourselves; to remind ourselves that the storm couldn’t last forever, and that everything would dry out. We made cups of coffee and sat and drank these slowly, watching the lightning and listen to the awe-inspiring, deafening rain.

So, we got through. Mindfulness helped my wife and I endure a night without too much ‘inner angst’. We just got on with what we needed to do in the moment and that kept us calmer. It’s another example of what the practice can do for you in tougher circumstance; it builds resilience – a few years ago I think we’d have both been a lot more panicky about the same situation.

Seeing the news the next day, I feel we got off rather lightly and were very fortunate. So many other people had flooding in their homes; cars abandoned (floating in a hospital car park just down the road from us!) and people lost their lives in a train derailment.

We just don’t know what life is going to throw at us next, and 2020 has certainly been such a year for the uncertain to pull the rug out from under us, to make us re-assess and ponder our lives and the way we live. The storms certainly seem to be one reaction to the climate emergency that is now upon us. Now, more than ever, we need to centre ourselves and root ourselves in our calming practices, so we can observe the right action going forward for this world: the most compassionate action for us and the planet.

There is always hope; for me, it’s rooted to how we live in the present moment (and building our awareness of those moments). I believe now more than ever that we could all be working together, regardless of country or background, to give love and compassionate action to the world and all those who live in it. We can only begin to do that if we’re compassionate to ourselves and our immediate locales.

The storm, then, for us, was – like the leaky roof that instigated our replacement installation (now we do have roof tiles!) – a gift, another sign of building resilience and of the reminder to inter-connect with everything. We are not separate. It’s not humans versus the rest of the world, or even each other – we’re all part of the same system.

True knowing of this can only guide us in the right direction for the future.

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