My story breaking free from addiction doesn’t define my life story any more than coming third in the cross country in the fourth grade does. But I like to reflect on it because my addiction coloured such a large chunk of my adult life.
My addiction was a layer of protection I carried – like a shield to keep me in the shadow from the sun.
Now, I have no shield – life is simple and raw.
Doing Happiness. I don’t know about you, but I learned from an early age that happiness is earned by accomplishing things, getting things, changing things on the outside, changing how we look, how we act, who we have in our life etc. I see it time and again with people I work with – people feeling blindly for who they are – why is it that we were never taught how to be ourselves?
My whole coaching paradigm is built on knowing ourselves, and being comfortable, secure and whole in ourselves as a starting point. Authenticity as an entry point to happiness. Maybe it’s more accurate to say that we were not allowed to just be ourselves.
I also learned early on that good people put themselves last – and others first. This led me on a ultimately ruinous series of relationships and life patterns – that only ceased when I began to give myself permission to self care.
If you’re anything like me, you were always being “something” for somebody else. When I finally stopped chasing other’s approval, and sought instead to be grounded in myself, I began to feel the warmth and glow of happiness. I could stop chasing happiness, It was with me all along. We are chasing because we are not happy.
Happiness comes from being in the moment observing life in a non-judgemental way including ourselves. Almost the definition of mindfulness. Happiness is coming from that heart centred place. That is who we are naturally, but we have lost touch with that very basic part of ourselves. We need to re-learn how to be again and make choices that are in-line with who we are at our essential nature, our core. It’s about consciously choosing not to live a life based on the conditioning that we have experienced or someone else’s expectations.
We take happiness for granted, and put conditions on it. “I will be happy when..” “As soon as x, then I will be happy…” Even the trick of delaying happiness until a holiday, or retirement, or the weekend, or tonight.
If you observe closely you will start to see the conditions that you have put in place and are basically guiding your life. The problem is, when you meet one of those conditions; the ideal job, the ideal partner, losing weight or nearing Friday afternoon, you find that it is not true happiness. But instead, a mirage – an illusion that begins dissolving back into the horizon just as quickly as you approach it.
True happiness is realizing there is nothing wrong with you or anything in your experience. Happiness begins with self acceptance.
Happiness is realizing that nothing needs to change about you or the world. It is not based on anything being different… it comes from simply being present in your experience, simply observing and making choices from that heart centered place, from that mindful state of being that is with you always.
I’m hoping you want to explore you own relationship with happiness and that begins with an Awareness Upgrade. Take the plunge…
Jaded. Sameness. Stuck. I didn’t realize it was a choice. Mindfulness autopilot is the same stuff, day after day, seemingly stretching out into a never ending future. It’s bland and uninspiring. And, it’s like we switch onto autopiloit – a default setting where we just go through the motions.
Sitting in traffic, on a train with earbuds, waiting in line, collecting our stuff at the end of the day. There is a way to spark wonder and gratitude when you are in this rut. There is a way to re-ignite that playful curiosity of newness – and it begins with choosing to see things differently.
My journey of escape from mindfulness autopilot began after I had chased the rainbow of addiction for years – and found that it did not end with a pot of gold, but instead a broken wreck of health issues. I fell down, fat, exhausted, lost and ready for nothing except surrender.
My surrender was to give myself the time and effort to truly go inward. But not in a navel gazing, sentimental-journey kind of way. Instead, in a growth focused, open mindedness way – where letting go and releasing all of those things past was the only real way forward.
And the solution was not to be found by endlessly slicing and dicing the events of my past – the shame, the tragedy, the humiliation of what I had chosen, or allowed to happen. I needed a new way of processing my thoughts. Ruminating and re-examining old baggage was no longer serving me.
And then, quietly, like a long lost traveller patiently waiting outside the door in the rain, I welcomed mindfulness in. We sat together, in stillness and we finally confronted my inner voice – a thunderous tsunami of judgement and comparison washed over me. It was a struggle to coming up for air in those first brave mindfulness moments.
Each time I sat in stillness, my inner voice unleashed and I diligently held my ground with resolve and a sense of focus. Gradually, as I grew more comfortable in the clarity and calm of the gap, I teetered in stillness and observed my inner critic wither and melt. It was as though my ego – my whole story of suffering and sacrifice, was evaporating in the light of mindfulness.letting go and releasing all of those things past was the only real way forward. Click To Tweet
Now, when I sense the steamroller of sameness looming up behind me, I have the choice to go inward and wave away those thoughts as the mere distractions that they are. It’s a grounded completeness that comes from knowing that never again will I be tormented by what others might think, or what might have happened in the past. Mindfulness is an inheritance built on the power of the present moment – for that is the only reality that there is.
Are you stuck on autopilot? Struggling with a sense of incompleteness? Seeking a reset and would like to align your focal point in a fresh, inspiring new direction?
I invite you to share in a Foundations Workshop with me – a four hour deep dive into you – and come away with a crystal clarity about your personal values and your archetypes. Clik on the links in the side bar for more information, or book right now through my online scheduling app.
When you start any new business, there’s a thing called the Dip. It’s where your cash flow and income stream dips lower than what you might have become used to. It usually happens right at the beginning of your new business journey. For most people, the fear of the dip keeps them trudging off to work until they qualify for a pension.
The challenge of the dip is to process creatively when the huge “cartoon anvil” is hanging overhead, with a persistent inner critic whispering “But where’s the money coming from?” How can you be creative and productive when you are in a place of fear and lack?
Totally understandable – I mean someone has to pay the bills. And then there’s all those bits and pieces and keeping up with your brothers and the guys down at the gym. The Dip also includes a drop in status, and a drop in certainty. You are no longer a “job title” and you no longer have the scaffold of a job structure to lean on.
So, just that one thing – The Dip – keeps you from ever really considering doing something aligned with your life purpose. And, in life coaching, we call this living in shadow.
Living in shadow is where you don’t allow yourself to play 100% – and follow your life purpose and dream – (because of fear of The Dip), and instead you deliberately choose a second tier option, and funnel all your energy into it. Like the music teacher who never quite launched an album, or the obsessive trainer who never quite went pro, or the shadow author who stalks libraries.
It’s so much safer, PLUS you get to go on your boat – or the footy, or the movies – anything to distract you from that gnawing inner feeling that you aren’t doing what you could be.
It’s called living in shadow for a reason, because you haven’t had the courage to live wholeheartedly and step into the glare of the light. Living in shadow is when you buy the flippers but never actually get your feet wet.
I stopped living in shadow and started this journey towards the light a couple of years back. And yes, I am still living in the dip.
One thing that I’ve learned about the dip, is that all those people who live their lives based on fear – who are not following any passion – they come out of the woodwork and smile at you, as though you were duped by all those inspirational posts on social media. It’s as if you made the mistake of actually believing it, when they sit smugly on the sidelines and just “like and share” – no risk, no dip, no reward.the fear of the dip keeps them trudging off to work Click To Tweet
They appear one day with a big shiny SUV, or mention another cruise ship holiday, or ask your opinion on colour swatches for their kitchen remodel. Filling their days with the order processing of having stuff, as if that’s the real business of life. As if the getting of stuff – and even more time consuming – the maintenance of stuff – is the breath of life.
It isn’t. Standing proudly next to a shiny machine isn’t an achievement or milestone. In fact, it’s like falling in love with your prison. A beautiful prison that turns heads and makes noises – but a prison nonetheless.
Just yesterday, in the cool afternoon sunlight down by the beach, I sat against a rock wall and meditated for an hour. The sun warmed the surfaces around me, even though the wind was fresh from the ocean.
I felt the energy in the air and the stability of the ground beneath me. Breathed into the space, fully occupied my stillness and trembled in that space between thoughts.
People came and went – stood by me so they shadowed the sun; talked loudly about their stuff; allowed their dog to nose me; it was as though by meditating I was still there, participating.
I came away feeling complete and settled and re-connected.
Many people I meet say something like “I probably should move onto something new, but why should I?” It’s said in different ways, with different aspects of life, but essentially it’s the same sort of idea.
Eventually we all reach a level of competence in one area and it actually a becomes a comfort zone. So why would anyone volunteer to leave a comfort zone and start over from scratch?
It’s as if only people who have suffered tragedy or personal challenge or live circumstance that forces them to change have to go through the process. Otherwise, leave me alone, I’m sticking with what I know.
It makes a whole lot of sense on one level – why risk going through the stages of learning, discovery, trial and error, re-setting your course, maybe changing focus – and then doing all this with no guarantee of anything at the end?
It can seem like it is actually just a big mistake – or a type of mid life rebellion that will only bring struggle and uncertainty.
But, on the other hand, it can be like opening a new door into a new life. Like actually venturing in and seeing for yourself if the grass is actually greener, and how amazingly light and giddy with excitement and newness it might be.
My personal experience with stepping off my nine-to-five train has been filled with freedom and discovery. But also the quiet patience learned from being comfortable with less, and the humble acceptance of an indeterminate status along with a sense of not quite knowing when I will finally arrive.
During this journey I have gone from spending my spare time wandering around electrical appliance stores, looking for the next purchase – to walking with small groups along the beach or through the rainforest sharing mindfulness.
I’ve gone from depending on crowds and things and events to keep me distracted from myself – to actually thriving on the solace of stillness and the composure of calm.
“I cannot see or hear but I find hundreds of things to interest me,” she said. She loved to feel the smooth skin of a silver birch tree or the rough shaggy bark of a pine. “If I’m lucky,” she said, “I can put my hand on a small tree and feel it quiver as a bird sings in its branches.” Helen KellerI can put my hand on a small tree and feel it quiver as a bird sings in its branches. Helen Keller Click To Tweet
It’s a journey into self acceptance and that gentle space where I can reflect that nothing I do to the external world can truly shape my internal world like mindfulness and the quiet breathwork of meditation.
And that’s where I’m inviting you to come along for an experience of mindfulness. You can join me walking around the scenic spots of Newcastle, mornings and afternoons, sunrise and twilight, by going to MindBodyCalm.com.au
We are constantly evolving the schedule to suit the needs of our wellness walkers, as well as seasonal conditions, so be sure to check what’s happening on our Facebook page at https://facebook.com/mindbodycalm
Bright shiny objects. The latest trend. Following click bait. Chasing butterflies. I was trained to be never fully satisfied and always seeking more, as though the final, definite answer was just a click or event away. But it wasn’t – all along it was right here within me. And that’s why I call mindfulness a form of mental self defence.
Wandering mind syndrome is the worst. It’s where you flit from one thing to another, meeting everything at the level of appearance, running your fingers across the surface, never quite connecting with the who or the why. I was trained to be like this from a young age – by a cartel of corporate juggernauts eager to for me to join the unthinking army of mindless consumers.
It ended for me, one day, when I collapsed, bulging with fat from over eating, sallow and pale from over drinking, and sticky with sweat on the debt treadmill. I was broken. I felt like the last Roman Senator, slumped over the feast table, pawing at crumbs.
Coming to mindfulness has meant I am focused and connected to the present. My previous life of daydreaming, ruminating, drifting and being lost in idle thought – is over, and now I savour the stillness and basic integrity of the here, the now and the authentically mundane.
My wandering mind is something I do not control, or judge or compare. It is just something. I can watch with genuine curiosity as I realise my mind has wandered -skipped of on some tangent and rumbling headlong into a past episode or fantasizing about the future. And gently, with a measure of self acceptance and self compassion that I am only just beginning to polish, I can bring my attention back to just sitting and observing.
It’s a practice and a routine and something that doesn’t come effortlessly or get dramatically easier. But it’s not meant to – and I don’t expect it to. Being mindful, and bringing my focus back to center over and again is the practice.bringing my focus back to center over and again is the practice. Click To Tweet
In real life, away from when I am sitting in mindfulness, I notice how much I have grown. It might be just a subtle inflection, a momentary withdrawal, or deflecting myself away from the heat of unnecessary conflict. But it is there. I can walk through a room and feel the heat rise in my cheeks – thinking what will they think – and now it is so much easier to wave it away and assure myself – it doesn’t matter what they think.
Mindfulness is my mental self defence. A living, breathing, organic part of me that supports me when I falter. And lends me a clarity and calm composure. No longer at the whim of my wandering mind syndrome, I feel grounded with mindfulness.