“Transformation is hard at first, messy in the middle and gorgeous at the end” ~ Robin Sharma
I liken ‘Mindfulness’ similar to any other new activity or skill we wish to master and bring into our life. In other words just as an instrument will not learn itself, needs practise and dedication, so does a change in our thought process. In whatever way we wish to enhance our life, or well being, we have to put in the effort.
I look back to my teens and the sudden urge I had to be the next Siouxsie Sioux. It was the seventies, the Punk phenomena had taken hold of the rebellious side of the music industry and fronting the stage with a guitar around my neck seemed very appealing. My desire for a musician’s life was sealed after an evening drinking with the all girl band ‘The Slits’ and I begged my parents for a guitar.
Mum and Dad were both in the entertainment business, so it didn’t take long for them to source me a bass guitar and amp. What I didn’t anticipate was the hours of practise I would need to put in, or worse still the cuts and sores on my finger ends in the early stages. Joining a band was relatively easy for me, though the dream didn’t last too long. My younger brother was in the initial stages of setting up his first band and encouraged me with all his heart to take my instrument seriously. Within a short space of time I was sacked and rightly so, my passion and commitment to learn the bass just wasn’t there.
I believe this is true of anything, so when I look at TV programmes like X factor and The Voice, watching the hundreds of hopefuls queuing for auditions with hopes and dreams of instant stardom, I smile and think about my bass guitar. Without the passion, determination, trials and tribulations most artists have had to endure, it’s hardly surprising few succeed. We seem to want the end result without the journey, yet sometimes the journey is the most important part of the ingredient. It’s the same with Mindfulness and Meditation.
I’m still a novice compared to many, but since May 2012 I have meditated twice daily with the exception of the odd day. (Come on – none one is perfect.) For the first few months I became quite distraught, because although I could see my life was slowly transforming, on the other hand I also felt some of my thoughts and reactions were becoming increasingly worse. The truth being, I was now starting to observe my negative thinking, which had been a contribution to my life patterns for many years. Unfortunately, during this period I was still repeating some of these old patterns and coupled with my increased sense of awareness, this heralded the start of an extremely frustrating time for me.
For a while it seemed as though I was in a constant battle with mindlessness and mindfulness, but with perseverance and continued practise, I am now seeing the fruits of my determination, with the positive effects on my life style so profound.
Mindfulness can be a habit, a delightful one too and even though I can still find myself jumping aboard a train of unhelpful thinking, being aware makes it so much easier to jump off and become centred once more.
There is a fallacy that meditation belongs to the New Age, Monks, Hippies and those who hug trees. Totally untrue, though personally I don’t see anything wrong with hugging a tree. Everyone can be mindful for a moment and each moment counts in helping to bring peace of mind and a less stressful life.
Where ever you are right now, I ask you to look around. What do you see? What do you hear? I’m in the library, surrounded by hundreds of beautiful books written by artists from countless ages, past and present. Each has helped to enhance the world and will hopefully be instrumental to encouraging many more artists and pioneers, who have yet to come through. I sit with my lap top plugged in to Derbyshire County Council’s electricity and sip on clean, fresh water. In that moment I have realised talent, wonder and all that I have within my reach and I am grateful. I’m also not worrying about the bad stuff, which is what we have a tendency to do when our mind isn’t focused.
Countless people are living with stress, unhappiness, depression, anxiety and pain, oblivious to the benefits mindfulness can bring into their lives. I was one of these people, trudging through life on auto pilot without realising the harm I was doing to myself, simply from my negative thoughts and feelings.
© Sharon Bull