This morning I woke up thinking busily and then worrying, relentlessly
This has happened before and I'm sure it'll happen again. It's conditioned into me, by me, and by the culture around me. I languished in it for a good 30 minutes, then meditated, wrote, read and remembered that I can't force this away forever, because I know that harms my body and creates more depression sooner or later. So, I can acknowledge it, admit it to myself and imagine there is a gift in this for me somewhere.
So I admit it to you now - my voices of:
Steve Jobs once said:
"It is impossible to connect the dots looking forward - you can only connect them looking back. You have to trust in something, because this will give you the confidence to follow your heart even when it leads you off the well worn path."
Last week, after finishing 5 days of 'Fooling School' with the enigmatic Holly Stoppit, I was left with a lot of insights and a lot of confusion. Fooling is the art of emptying yourself by allowing whatever is present to be acted out and seen as 'a mask'. Something you wear, periodically, and experience the world through. It could be a mask of smugness, or victimhood, or, as in my case this morning, the inner critic. In the workshop we had a lot of fun with this and also experienced a shed load of vulnerability, joy, tears and shared emotions with 7 other fools, 10-6 Monday to Friday!
One insight was the idea that perhaps it is when we have a glimmer of awareness that this emotion, feeling and voice in me is like a ‘mask’, one of many that we slap on ourselves and onto other people (seeing them as a character looking at us), that we can we hope to face it and relax our hold on it. But unfortunately it rarely just dissolve - It is there for a reason. I created it and wear it to protect me from feeling something. Failure, judgement of others, the deep painful reminder of something I bought into long ago - a belief that I'm not enough.
So how then do I move on with my day? Accept it and be interested in it. Give it some space to be heard and seen. Ask it some questions. Breathe with it and feel. Let go of pushing it away, just for some time, maybe 20 minutes and play with it. Maybe it has some undiscovered treasures for you. Perhaps it is good that it isn’t dissolving instantly. One of the most inspiring quotes I gleaned from Holly this weekend was the subtle art behind fooling:
"Be interested, not interesting."
When I stop trying to be interesting, good enough, appropriate, mindful and wise I start acting out and accepting that I'm imperfect, messy, ugly, fragile and weak. It doesn't mean I'm like this all the time. It means I'm like this right now and I can witness and follow that for some time, to see where it leads.
When I allow it, breathe with it and accept it then I sometimes find it transforms into an insight; a learning about myself and then it becomes something truly inspiring. My critic today reminded me to be more responsible for enjoyment of my day, to notice and appreciate my situation, to look at what I've got instead of what I don't have and to see if it's possible to vulnerably trust that it's all working out and then I find some inspiration to keep working, playing and looking for ways that this life is 'flirting with me' - things that I’m attracted to and keep me exploring.
So, I went for a run, climbed a tree, came back and launched into work, following my inspiration (it might ebb away again any time soon). I'm sharing this in the hope that you'll see some of your masks, and the masks you slap on others. Maybe you'll be inspired to work with Holly or me as we both offer playful and mindful ways to access inner acceptance.
I'm very grateful to Holly and to Steve Jobs for 'reminding' me that I'm a fool and help inspire me to be hungry for more. I'll leave you with this video of Steve Jobs talking more about his passion and what helped him to stay foolish and stay hungry.
Neil Morbey is a meditation teacher, group facilitator and inspiration guide for Positively-Mindful.com