With the days getting shorter in the Northern Hemisphere and news of a new Covid varient, there is much to be impacting our population's wellbeing right now.
It is times like these, when moods can get low and anxieties can be heightened, that I like to remind myself to focus on the context of life, not the content.
What do I mean by that?
Take these vases:
In this image, the vases, blossom, table and chair are the content of the picture and the context is the room that they are in. The vases are stuff, and they exist in the context of the room, which is predominantly space.
What has this got to do with wellbeing? In life, we have our content: jobs, family, relationships, health, money, living arrangements, hobbies, possessions, pandemics and this is like the stuff in the picture.
For those things to exist, there must be a bigger omnipresent context they exist in, and I propose that context is LOVE.
A universal force
Love is considered a universal force that underpins the very fabric of our being. It is omnipresent, whether we are aware of it or not, and is permanent and unchanging. This is because to provide balance in the universe there must be aspects of the universe that are temporary, and aspects that are permanent. Love is permanent. So, the temporary aspects of our life and even our life itself, exists in the context of love.
Yet, I bet I can tell you where most of your day to day attention is going. On the stuff, right? Most likely too, that stuff that is going wrong that you feel you need to fix.
That's because we often hold this underlying belief that the cause of our unbalance, unhappiness and dissatisfaction in life is because of what is or isn't happening in our life (the stuff). We believe "if only I could be a size X?", "if only I was healthy", "if only I was in a relationship", "if only X wasn't ..." you get the jist. When it feels like it's all going wrong, we believe that if we can get our lives just perfect, then we will be happy and then we can rest and enjoy love.
In reality, the cause of our dissatisfaction and unhappiness isn't to do with the stuff, as much as it is to do with how much attention we're putting on it.
We have a choice
As humans, we have a choice where we direct our attention. We can put it on the content of our life, the things we like or don't like, want more or less of, or what we're trying to fix and change, OR, we could choose to put it on the context.
Through a simple shift of attention from focusing on one thing a lot and feeling it with a high degree of intensity to expanding our awareness to the context life exists in, we're able to contextualise our issues and give ourselves some much needed peace.
Known as open focus, the shift in awareness immediately calms our nervous system, downregulates our stress and anxiety responses and increases our sense of wellbeing.
The trick is to practice living in context awareness. We do this so that when life gets challenging and the temptation is to be drawn into hyperfocusing on the bad, we know we're capable of staying connected to the context.
It doesn't mean we don't ever focus on the stuff in our life, it just means we do it from context awareness.
By being aware of the stuff in our life, whilst living from context awareness engages both the left and right sides of our cerebral (head) brain, leaving us feeling connected, resourced and balanced.
To practice context awareness you will need to:
Find an object in the room/space you are currently in and put your full attention on it. Notice the impact this has on your body.
Now spread your awareness outwards from that object. Start to notice there is space around it. Feel into the serenity of that space.
Become more interested in the connection to the omnipresent essence that underlies anything you can see, hear or feel right now.
Choose to connect into an experience of love. Notice it's permanence. Notice how warm and comforting it feels?
Let yourself hang out there as long as you like as you go about your day.
Whenever you find yourself getting tense and stressed, return to this experience of context awareness. Know that there is something bigger and more loving than anything difficult you might be going through right now.
Feel safe and held in this omnipresent context.
As always, I invite you to try out this exercise for yourself, and let us know how you get on!
Want to hear more helpful tips like this? Join us either live or sign up to get access to the replay with my free Calm @ Christmas workshop. It might just save your sanity!