Island Blog – Mindfulness and a Flower

I don’t pretend to know exactly how to be mindful. Apparently there are loads of ways of getting it wrong. For example, just noticing a new flower en route to the M8 does not count. Well, it could, if you held the spirit of that flower through a line of aggressive drivers and the rain obliterating any chance of a decent view ahead; held that flower in all its sudden beauty, allowing it to infiltrate into your very being, mindfully, of course, until you float into the antsy grudge-infested and hungover bunch of colleagues awaiting you with that beatific flower smile, unwavering, on your face. Never mind that you stormed out of Wits End late after a ferocious altercation with that infuriating teenager who is actually planning to go to school in that stained shirt with that amount of goo plastered over his head and that patronising smirk on his face; nor that the woman you work beside just texted SICK and has left you with double the workload, nor that your varicose veins are playing up, nor, even, that you forgot your sandwich for lunch which will now go through a process of revenge, curling up at the edges whilst the carefully constructed and healthy interior will liquify, stink and finally end its life in the kitchen bin, accompanied by a thousand bluebottles. The flower smile stays on, if you are mindfully able to hold that flower within, if you are really able to let go of a deep need to control everyone and everything.

It asks a lot does this mindfulness. However, I am growing to like it a lot. A huge amount of our days come at us like a spray of bullets, and it doesn’t stop all day long. If we don’t control our responses to that relentless attack, we become a victim of circumstance. In the quiet of the night we may consider this, feeling unable to defeat the enemies who attack us. I know this place so very well. However, the most marvellous news is that it is never too late to de-victimise ourselves. Our minds are strong enough to change it all. Not overnight, but with guidance and with consistent mindfulness study.

That teenager will learn eventually that stained tops are not cool, that smirks just look arrogant and that solid hair looks ridiculous after football in the rain. The double workload may or may not be completed. I am only human after all, and my work hours are fixed. My colleague did not set out to dump me in the poo. She’s just sick. My colleagues can keep their baggage to themselves but I can be compassionate and ask friendly questions so that they feel heard. Chances are I’m the only one in their lives who listens without fixing. This, in no way means I take on their stuff. It simply means that I see their suffering and acknowledge it, even if I reckon that their suffering is nothing compared to my own and I feel like smacking them.

I’m sure I am muddling mindfulness with other modalities but I don’t think it matters because the bottom line is the same. Let go, let it be, let them be, let me be etc. Let everyone (including those in my care) live their own lives. Let them find out for themselves. I just need to focus my do-gooding light on myself. There will be plenty of work to do after all. For starters I can teach myself to let go and that is just about the biggest of all asks. Meantime I won’t be going out in a stained top, nor with quick setting plaster slathered over my coiffure, nor do I have a sneer turning my mouth into a rumple of caterpillars – not since that flower en route to the M8.

I might forget my lunch though.

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