The thing about life is – it has many different shades and layers to it. Some of life is bright, beautiful, glaring white full of sunshine and energy. We love those bits, want more of them and can feel like we're doing something wrong if we're not there all the time (we're not).
Some of life is dark and it burns so hard we think we're going to die from baring it, but by moving through it we emerge wiser, humbled, different, (better?) at the end. Some of life is musty and sore and difficult and bruised. Much of life is somewhere in between – hum drum, cozy jammies and average TV nights. And there is ABSOLUTELY NOTHING you can do about that. There will be highs and lows and many mediocre bits in the middle.
Anyone who tells you there is only rainbows and ‘up, up, up’ is trying to sell you something.
Life is full of peak experiences, but with the highs come the lows. For every incredible holiday you take, there will always be the blues when you re-enter normality. Lottery winners descending into chaos, best-selling authors struggling to re-create their success.
For every beautiful love experience comes the feeling of separation (you can’t stay deeply, intimately connected to someone ALL THE TIME), every boozy night has a hungover morning. Even every deep meditation or spiritual experience has the feeling of incredible expansion, followed by the feeling of releasing difficult emotions you didn’t even know you were holding.
I am wondering, would you really want only white light? Does the heartache prove that you loved? Do the hard times build your strength and character? Is it true, as Khalil Gibran suggests, that 'the deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain'?
A well-lived life will contain so many different seasons and flavours. But what we don’t want to do is add to the suffering. And this comes when we try to hold on to the good stuff and push away the bad. We use unhealthy coping mechanisms so we don’t have to feel our pain. We long and pine for the good times and struggle to adjust when things change. Instead of rolling with the punches and flowing with the great river of life, we worry, live in denial or push away reality in favour of our misguided fantasies. We tell ourselves victim stories or ask: ‘why me?’ We compare and contrast our unique journeys with those of our friends and acquaintances and find ourselves lacking.
We spend so much time wishing our lives were different that we fail to acknowledge the lives that we have.
Mindfulness is a route to bring you closer to your life. It helps you open to what’s right there in front of you – whether you’re in a peak bright white time, a frightening black or all the shades of grey. By becoming a keen observer of your body – your vehicle to experience the world through – you begin to notice the extraordinary depth and variety of flavours, feelings, moments and sensations that make up your miraculously ordinary human life.
By practicing mindfulness it becomes easier to move through the harder times and to draw nourishment from simply being alive and awake in this very moment of your time here on earth.
Some time in the future, it might be better. It might be worse. You can bank on the fact that there will be many, many moments of varying shades to take you to the end of your days and that on your death bed, you will probably feel like you want to have LIVED. To have FELT. To have absorbed every painful, beautiful moment of loving and moving and shaking and grooving here on planet earth.
So now. Take a deep breath. Notice the life in the air that enters your nostrils, feel it nourish your body down to your toes. And OPEN. Open to all of who you are – your struggles, your dreams, your wishes, your curiosities, your fears and your ambitions. Especially open to the bits of you that you wish were different – invite them into your heart and just for this moment, let them rest.
Open to your life in THIS MOMENT. Right now. Stop. Be aware. Awake. The planet is spinning round and round our incredible sun, the stars shine to us from light years away and you are the results of millions of years of evolution. Drink it in. You live.