Seeing the waters clearly: A lesson of change

It has taken several months to come to this decision and it is no easier to write it now than when we first discussed it in the safety of our living room. We will be closing the physical space of the Ottawa Mindfulness Clinic and Sea Glass Psychological Services and providing all services via video sessions. This is not an easy step to take; it has not been an easy path from March 25, 2020 to this moment.

As I write this, the weather outside is cool and the sun shining. On a day like this in past years, we would be planting tulips, narcissi, and cleaning the flower beds. We had planned to retire by 2023, if not earlier. There were dreams of a cottage on Cape Breton, on a cliff overlooking the ocean. There were hopes of being closer with family and dear friends, stretching time into our last days. All these fish in the water.

The initial news of COVID19 contained hope that things may return eventually to what we accepted as normal. Waters would clear, life would begin again. We made the transition to delivering our services to individuals via the video platforms and surprised ourselves by the effectiveness and ease of the process. Working from home provided the time for a huge vegetable garden and eventual harvest and the eddies and whirlpools seemed temporary.

We were watching the water and perhaps not seeing it. Seeing is a deeper part of watching. We carefully watched how we would do this and that: setting appointments, learning to navigate new software, revelling in the gift of more time. We attended to the changes in association rules and monitored our “bubbles.” But seeing involves all the senses, not a lockdown on one aspect of the flow. The vision softens and a broader scope of how things are moving becomes apparent.

The first reading of the waters was that we had enjoyed the freedom to begin slowing down – and its cost. As most of our clients reported, the first weeks were a flip between relief to be on place and a trudge through unimagined exhaustion. We underestimated how hard and fast we’d been running, how much energy had been spent commuting, balancing multiple duties, deferring conflicts and emotions for another time. With waiting for things to return to normal came the space to feel what we were feeling – all at once. This was a call to re-assess our intentions to live a healthy and full life, now not later.

The second clear seeing of the waters came with the realization that COVID19 is an ultra-marathon not your typical Ottawa, Toronto or any other annual run of 42 km. It became clear that the now-empty physical space could not be maintained financially indefinitely and we were working solely to keep up the façade. Strangely, letting go of that physical structure was the hardest. After 30 years of being in one place, it is home, the site where all our dreams became reality. We felt angry – why didn’t we know the owners were now Americans and not eligible for rent relief? Why did we renew the lease in January 2020? How could we close down? Colleagues fed into the story when we spoke of closing the offices:

“This reminded me of how I felt when I found out Wayne Gretzky was being traded from Edmonton to Los Angeles.  Sure, logically it is a possibility, but something just does not compute.”

Gretzky? For me, it’s like Aero not making Aero Bubbles anymore!

It’s hard to let go, isn’t it? Catch sight of that one fish and the mind says it’s the only one that matters. Damn seeing the waters, chase it down. However, can we see this as a practice of perpetually letting go, in little and big ways.

  • That exhalation, that transition between inhalation and exhalation
  • That shift of vision from squinting to seeing
  • That change in seasons where colours give way to each other through the spectrum
  • That moment of Sampajañña – seeing clearly and acting with intention

These are interesting times. We are called to a deeper level of honesty about who we are becoming in every moment. We are confronted with the truth of relationships and our responsibility to nurturing and sustaining them. We are being asked to grow up, let go of the things of childhood, and step into the largest shoes possible. And this is the final seeing of the waters: it not different from pre-COVID19. We have always been asked to grow, adapt, and stop wanting things to be what they are not. Now we have a choice to dream about fish or see them in the waters clearly.

Our programs begin online in January 2021. Come walk with us!

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3 Comments

  1. Dear Lynette & Frank, Your teachings and those I’ve picked up from others at retreats who are traveling on this mindfulness journey have been so very essential during this unprecedented time. As far as I’m concerned you may have lost the physical space but your practice continues and the home of the practices are with you two and each & every one of us you’ve touched. I wish you great love and abundance. Love Moe

  2. Dear Lynette & Frank, I am so very grateful for your teachings. You have been very generous and open with your challenges, foibles and lessons. My practice has been greatly influenced by your tutelage. Your generosity and the openness of those that have surrounded me during retreats and clinics has helped me prepare for this marathon, my mindfulness bag is filled with treasures and I am keeping my eyes open for others. Thanks for leading through example. Thanks for being there. You/we may have lost the physical space of the Clinic but it resides in all of those hearts you have touched. Love Moe

    1. Dearest Moe, It has been our honour and privilege to journey with you. We will be opening the Alumni sittings and other little touchstones for all of you to keep in touch. With much love, Lynette & Frank

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