There are many paths up the mountain, but at the top, they all become one…
When we consider the art of cultivation, it begins with belief, faith, or purpose, or whichever word resonates best with you. The truth of it is that it starts with beginning.
In the world of separation and misperception, we find ourselves in today, the grounding in any one of these foundational elements is key to our successful development. To our growth. To our resilience. To our BEing.
Wellness, happiness, mindfulness and all the other ness’s are always there, for those with the curiosity and courage to stand forward, to ask what else, and to seek out their own truth.
How do we get to that place I hear you ask?
We start by stopping, by standing still, be embracing silence and the forgotten art of deep listening, by releasing our attachment to fulfilment from the external source and begin to remember the truth from within which comes from the one eternal source.
“Yes, but who has time to pause amidst the maelstrom of today”, you are no doubt thinking…
Firstly, ask yourself where does that response come from. Is it from a place of assumption of a place of inner wisdom?
Secondly, there is always time to pause time to reconnect with our truth, with our intuitive knowing, and our compassionate heart.
For some of us, this is harder to connect with, those of you like me are happy playing out on the edge, care-free and bold, leaning into whatever comes up knowing that it is within this “danger zone” where the growth is most exponential. Whereas for others playing from a position of comfort and centredness is perhaps an easier jumping-off point. I honour both spaces and offer guidance and bespoke journeys accordingly.
So we come to mindfulness, the acceptable world of self-discovery and gateway to meditation practice, adapted from the snowy mountains of the Himalayas all the to the corner office suite inside the CBD tower block, and over to the wind swept beaches amidst the crashing waves on an idyllic island awakening retreat and equally at home alone in the quiet, serene, countryside cottage in middle England.
So, what is the quintessential spirit of mindfulness?
Cultivating the quality of awareness, perception of the moment not distorted by bias, old fears, projection into the future, historical emotion effect.
Learning how to truly see things right now, not trying to shut things down in denial, not allowing anticipation to muddy the waters, resisting the conditioned urge to take an experience and automatically add things to the present moment because that is how we have always done it, what we have always been told, how we have always seen ourselves.
Many lessons right there folks, perhaps the first would be the language we use – the absolutes we deal in – (remember your Star Wars legend people…) the perception of ALWAYS and the propensity of this single word to allow us to careen headlong into the abyss and allow a simple mistake to transport us straight down in that express elevator to self-deprecation and the destruction of that oh so fragile self-worth we spend our mindful moments cultivating…
When we fail to stop this procession, we fail to appreciate the moment, the EQ response of “reality testing” – ok so this is bad, but is it any more than that, is it necessary to re-tread that familiar path, or is there another way, another choice?
Is there insight available here, is there a lesson? One more poignant and powerful than “oh god I suck at this and this and that reminds of this other insecurity and then and then….” – STOP
S – STOP
T – TAKE A BREATH
O – OBSERVE
P – PROCEED
Simple, short, and productive – or is that reductive? – Both? – it both prevents the downward spiral, whilst granting space for something new and more fruitful to take its place and perhaps even helps break that repetitive cycle – win/win/win – you got this team!
Simply BE with what is – nothing more – no denial, self-incrimination, instead insert self-compassion and possibility, allowing something new to blossom and most important lesson of all people; stop adding a miserable self-image on top of a painful experience, creating connections where none truly exist, consolidating negative and limiting self-beliefs based on bullshit assumptions.
And so we come to the breath…
Why is it that so often when we begin to learn the meditative practices (of concentration and focus) do we find it easiest to work with the breath?
Because it is universal, oh so portable, and (one hopes) always available. It demands no attachment to ancient dogma or affiliation with new belief structures. No special learning nor contrived method is required, simply a practical application of mindful, conscious awareness, which can be done anywhere, anytime, by anyone.
Once we are comfortable with the breath, in, out, rising, falling and we get accustomed to the practice of fixing our attention on a single point – e.g. the tip of the nose, we can begin to explore the art of concentration, an innate skill which in the past no doubt saved our lives and helped us survive, which now is so lost under the myriad of information overload, it has transmuted into a weakness, a lack of bandwidth, an out-dated idiosyncrasy not fit for the demands of modern times.
Cultivating concentration is about focusing our energy, uncoupling from that scattered, distracted, magpie mindset that drives the social media megalithic age. It is about turning intention into insight and as we all know, where we set our intention, our attention will naturally follow.
But remember our attention will always wander, whether it is after the 100 breath or just 2. It will happen. And here we come full circle to the key to cultivating that fullness, the self-compassion piece and how we honour that and ourselves in the moment – don’t beat yourself up about the perceived failing!
It is a lifelong practice and commitment. Some days will be better, some will be worse, it is how we respond that is the secret.
When we can remove the expectations on ourselves and replace it with an agreement with ourselves that we will practice, we will be kind, we will be mindful, we will be nurturing not critical, we will be comfortable simply sitting in the moment, allowing the emotion, the thought, the energy to pass through without getting too attached nor pushing it away.
This is the path of equanimity.
These are the foundations for cultivating bliss and the realisation of that fulness which always existed within if we could only get out of our own way to see, feel, hear it and BE it.
This is the way.
This is my higher purpose.
This is my calling.
If you or someone you know would like to delve deeper into this journey of self-discovery it would be my honour and privilege to walk along beside you.
Your #truself is always waiting for you, the only question that remains is when will you choose to take that first step towards reconnection?
Thanks for sharing your insights Rhys. You’re right, revisiting your breath as your attention wanders through the day helps create a space for yourself.
And wander is a good word choice. It’s not easy to stay with the present moment.
I do find that the habit of returning with the breath is useful!