There’s snow on the ground in Edmonton. It was dark out for over an hour after I woke up this morning. The change of seasons is one of many transitions I’ve been facing in recent weeks.

As a guy whose tag line is “Feel Great. Work Great. Be Great,” and as one in the business of promoting aliveness and exhilaration, it’s been difficult to admit (even to myself) that I had frequently been feeling down. I took a brief visit to diagnostic criteria for depression, noting 14 different flavours, and enjoying phrases like “at least five of the nine symptoms below for the same two weeks or more, for most of the time almost every day, and this is a change from his/her prior level of functioning.” As I shared what I had been thinking and feeling with a trusted friend/colleague, she suggested that if I were depressed it was mild and that I was going through a lot of big changes. So my spontaneous and preferred diagnosis is that I’m full of shift.

For the past couple of months, I’ve changed my meditation to a mindfulness (vipassana) practice. Instead of working with a mantra or simply staying focused on the breath, the “two wings of presence” are recognizing bflower(thoughts, feelings, sensations) and acceptance or openheartedness (sometimes described as “bowing” to the experience). I believe this is ultimately a rich and beneficial change, but one that has put me in touch with the perturbations at a deeper level.

In the MOOC I’m taking on the Science of Happiness, this week one of the topics is self-compassion. I’ve noticed I tend to suck at that (and, therefore illustrating my point). Perhaps the next big challenge is to be kinder to myself amidst the vicissitudes. If you are not feeling your best, maybe you, too, are just full of shift. You may also find value in a lovingkindness meditation (guided examples here and here).

“In any moment, no matter how lost we feel, we can take refuge in presence and love. We need only pause, breathe, and open to the experience of aliveness within us. In that wakeful openness, we come home to the peace and freedom of our own natural awareness.” (Tara Brach)

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