Out of Control by Kaspa Thompson
Remember when it snowed in February? The temperature dived below zero. On the Wednesday evening of the cold weather the temperature inside the temple started to fall as well. Minutes before our public service I noticed the boiler had cut out. The condensate pipe was frozen solid. Whilst Satya led the service, I spent the evening trying to thaw out the pipe.
My footsteps crunched on the frozen snow. The cold wind whipped up snow powder from drifts into the air around me. The hot water I was using to thaw the pipe created clouds and clouds of water vapour.
Ten kettles of hot water later and the pipe was as frozen as it was before I had started. I made sure our residents had electric heaters in their rooms, and gave up for the night.
The next day the plumber helped me unplug the pipe from the boiler, we drained the condensation into a bucket in the boiler room, and the heating came back.
Two of our neighbours were without running water.
One of our outside wastepipes froze and a toilet overflowed.
When the snow began to melt it found its way through the roof above our guest bathroom, dripped onto the floor, and water filled the light fitting.
There is so much that we are not in control of.
A few days later when everything had thawed out, the overflows had been mopped up, and we were all warm again, I felt my body relaxing. I hadn’t even known I was holding tension through the week.
What supports us to feel settled and stable in the midst of chaos?
One thing we can do is be clear about what we are actually in control of. Sometimes in times like this I ask myself, “What can I control, what can I influence, and what is completely outside of my control?” Being clear about what I can do often allows me to let go of worrying about the rest.
Sometimes that isn’t enough and the worry remains. Sometimes we see how little we are in control of and that in itself feels unsettling. What then?
Count your blessings. It’s a cliché, but it really is a powerful antidote to worry and stressful situations. This isn’t about ignoring what’s troubling you, but is about also connecting with what is supportive and good and wholesome.
I remember my friends. I remember the bounty of the natural world that sustains me. I remember Christine who left her house to our Trust in her will, which allowed us to buy this temple building.
We can go further than remembering our blessings and take action to reconnect with them. Talk to our friends, go out in to the natural world or the places that support us.
Think about what already supports and nourishes you, be grateful for those and ask how you can root yourself more deeply in those places, relationships and experiences.
When we feel connected in this way, we are much less likely to be overwhelmed with stress, and much more likely to feel resourced and able to deal with what life throws at us.
Kaspa Thompson is a psychotherapist, mindfulness teacher and Buddhist priest. For info on therapy and mindfulness classes see: www.kaspathompson.co.uk and for his local Buddhist group see: www.amidamandala.com