“I bet if we all threw our problems in a huge pile and saw everyone else’s, we’d grab ours back. Don’t compare your life to others’. You have no idea what their journey is about
– Robin Roberts
One of the really liberating aspects of practicing mindfulness, or really any type of meditation, is the the freedom to focus on failure.
You know you are going to fail going in. Pretty much every time, too.
And recognizing that failure, moment by moment, over and over, is how you begin to win.
There are two ways to practice mindfulness.
Not surprisingly, they are also the two ways to live life.
To over simplify a bit, they are:
1 – Mindlessly (being lost in thought or thinking without knowing that you are thinking)
2 – Mindfully (not being lost in thought, or having finer grain control of how and where your attention in anchored)
Most of the time, for us unenlightened types, we’re thrashing around somewhere in the noisy neighborhood of option 1.
The small wins are in recognizing that, and moving back to the breath. (or the mantra, or the object or anchor of attention – in the service of cultivating true mindfulness in everyday life.
This is very freeing to me – as the barrier of entry is low. You know you are going to fail. You know you are going to have some wonderful wins. And you also know that the only way you make any progress on the path, is to simply do the work.
There is a practice I really like that is taught in some Vipassana meditation traditions, called “noting”.
Essentially, you “note” or name the emotions, thoughts, feelings and sensations that arise in the canvas of consciousness, notice they are fleeting, ephemeral, “not me” and inherently impermenant, and in some really special and spacious way, this practice (for me, anyway) tends to really open up a sense of expanded awareness into magical and mysterious terrain.
Time slows down. You start to see your “stuff” in really clear and coherent ways. You also start to realize that NONE of your stuff is you. It comes, and it goes. Just like everything else.
A typical noting practice for me may have this sort of flavor to it.
back pain. insecurity. fear. fear. buzzing in ear. anger. jealously. insecurity. worry. do I have a mullet? I may have a mullet. hot. cold. itch. Etc.
Your mess, becomes your message. And in some real way, it becomes the avenue for enlightenment as well.
I think there is a real analog to be found in our work life as well, especially for folks who are makers, mentors, authors, artists, teachers or trainers.
There is a freedom in saying –
hey – this is what failure looks like. I’ve been knee deep in it for decades. I’ve seen every flavor of failure there is – and I can describe them all for you so you can skip a few. There is something on the other side of that street though – and I’ve seen that too – so let me show you what i know, what i’ve learned and what matters now.
To0 many people think that our mess needs to be hidden or kept from view, in the service of offering up an appearance that isn’t you. Or me.
There is no shame in making a mess. It’s humbling and humorous and helpful and in some weird way, makes the whole adventure worthwhile.