It’s rainy season in Thailand. Recently, it’s been a rainy season in my life, too. I had a rough few weeks at work and decided to head to the beach for a getaway, only to be met with a physical torrential downpour. The irony of this is not lost on me. Not only that, I’ve realized I brought the rain with me.
“Wherever You Go, There You Are”
You see, many of the things which were bothering me at my job have followed me here. John Kabat-Zinn, the creator of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, wrote a book that has been on my reading list for a long time. I haven’t read it yet, but have gotten a lot of mileage out of the title alone: “wherever you go, there you are.”
I realized with humility that “pressing the reset button” had more to do with shifting my mindset rather than changing my location. Because just like the weather, thoughts and moods may stay a while, but they eventually shift. And they don’t have to ruin my experience while they’re here.
Storm Clouds Make For The Best Sunsets
Yesterday it rained here at the beach most of the day. When the rain abated, I went down to the beach to walk along the sand and watch the sun go down. I was graced with a spectacular display of lights, contrasts, and hues. And with a laugh, I realized: storm clouds actually make for the best sunsets! Storms add contrast and challenge to our lives in a way sunny skies and perfect weather do not. And it’s possible to find goodness even in the heart of a storm.
The Sky Doesn’t Try To Control The Weather
With my counseling clients, I frequently use the analogy of storm clouds and weather patterns to put challenging experiences, thoughts, and moods into perspective, instead of being overwhelmed by them. After all, storms are temporary. They never last forever. Meanwhile, the sky doesn’t try to control the weather, and it doesn’t despair when storms come. The sky, in its bare, wise awareness, knows all weather patterns are impermanent and a necessary part of life, and sits above it all, patiently watching life unfold.
We can have this awareness too. We can move through the storms of life while recognizing their impermanence, and we can have the awareness and optimism to notice and celebrate the gorgeous displays they gift us in the sky.
Changing Our Relationship To Problems
I am lucky the messages I share in the counseling room are ones that can apply to my own life, too. In my job as a counselor, I am constantly graced with the opportunity to practice mindfulness as it relates to my own life. It’s true I will still have challenges to return to when I go back to work on Monday. But the best reset of all doesn’t get rid of problems, it changes how we relate to them. I’m ready to recognize their impermanence, learn from them, and most of all, embrace them. They add contrast to my life, and I cannot think of a much better gift than that.