With laughter, tears and insights, my eight-week MBCT (Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy) course with the lovely teacher Emma and supportive classmates comes to an end today.
I came home with clarity and joy. Clarity from seeing that a lot of the fear and self-judgment I have are only an activity of my mind, and that 99% of them are very REAL, but not TRUE. Joy from realizing that my emotions, happiness or sadness, are not that scary. They come and go, just like the clouds, or the raindrops. When I stop fighting them, and simply observe and breathe, I can slowly come back to my equilibrium.
I already knew all of these for a long time. They were book knowledge or what others say in the past. But during this course, I have come to internalize these through experience.
When the class finished, a classmate came over and told me that my smile is very heartwarming. She loves my genuine emotions: whether I laugh, or cry, it is very precious. It is not easy to be so genuine, she said.
For so long I was afraid of my emotions, and found it difficult to get in touch with and express anything other than happiness. (On the other hand when my emotional roller coaster crashes I feel stuck and can’t go beyond my sadness.) It comes from the fear of feeling exposed, or being seen as vulnerable, which means not strong enough. And who wants to be weak? I kept telling myself.
The experience in the past few weeks taught me quite the contrary: when I can look into my biggest fears and self-judgements, and sit with them, I finally come to realize that they are not true. With time, I slowly feel my strength comes from within. When I was able to acknowledge my sadness, instead of trying to drive it away, that is when I start to discover joy again. When I am not ashamed to shed tears, instead of hiding it behind my laugher, others are touched as well.
It is these emotions and our vulnerability that brings us together.
Seems to be filled with contradictions on the surface level. But this is how it works, for me at least.
Before we parted, we sat in a circle, and were to give a pebble to bless a fellow classmate. A solemn and touching ceremony. I gave a pebble to D, a classmate who has jokingly become “my dad” during this course because of his resemblance with my real dad. In reaction to something I shared in an earlier class, he shared the song 漫步人生路 by Teresa Teng, filled with life philosophy with us:
He referred to me as “阿女” his daughter, and as he read the lyrics, tears ran down my cheeks.
When I feel stressed or sad, I will remember this song and bring out my pebble. It is a beautiful formation produced by the forces of nature through thousands of years. It causes ripples when being tossed into the water, but as it settles, clarity and calmness reappears; just like our mind and emotions.