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Our One and Precious Life

We have come to the end of this first online 8 week course for front line Registrants at RUH and I’m looking back at the last sessions with a mixture of relief and regret. It always feels like a journey that, for participants, feels quite onerous at the beginning. ‘Gosh, 8 weeks, I can’t think beyond next week!’. But, as we know, time has an odd quality and Week 8 comes along and everyone is thinking “is it really over already?”.

When you have journeyed with a group over this period – especially in the context of a mindfulness course - there is a real sense of connection with the group and hope that what has been learnt, what has been practiced, is firmly established enough to be the foundation for a lifetime of mindful practice.

I guess, underneath it all, mindfulness courses enable us to ask ourselves how we want to be in this life. They give us enough of a break in the madness and an opportunity to check in with ourselves and see how we can care for ourselves better - in small ways and bigger ways. We talk in the last sessions about ‘building our parachute’; how we can practice mindfulness to resource ourselves for the challenges that are part of life, unavoidable, the Big Stuff. Covid 19 is up there in the Big Stuff category, it won’t be the last. How can we learn to appreciate what is nourishing and life enhancing and, also, be in relationship with things that are really not what we want at all?

Our course offered no answers to our group of brave RUH participants – rather it allowed space to explore the role that mindfulness and self-compassion might play in in how we live this ‘one and precious life’.

Who made the world?

Who made the swan, and the black bear?

Who made the grasshopper?

This grasshopper, I mean--

the one who has flung herself out of the grass,

the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,

who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down

who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.

Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.

Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.

I don't know exactly what a prayer is.

I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down

into the grass, how to kneel in the grass,

how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields

which is what I have been doing all day.

Tell me, what else should I have done?

Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?

Tell me, what is it you plan to do

With your one wild and precious life?

The Summer Day Mary Oliver

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