July 15, 2011

How A Month of Mindfulness turned this Doer into an Un-doer

Meditation and I have become great buddies over the last few years. In fact, meditation is my have-to-do every single day, and asana has become my love-to-do.

So a month or so ago, when my meditation practice fell away, I was flabbergasted.

I’d been meditating daily through pregnancy, through having a newborn in the house, through my relationship break-up and the subsequent grieving and healing process… and now…

I missed a day. Then two. It might even have been three days in a row.

Sure, I was bed-ridden and ill with some nasty flu virus, but still, with all the lying around that being sick forced me to do… there wasn’t really any excuse for not meditating.

Drastic measures were required.

I needed to call in the experts to help me get my meditation practice back on track, and firmly embedded back into my days.

So I called on my good friend, ex-monk Peter Fernando. (Every serious meditator needs an ex-monk as a friend).

Peter is a delightfully insightful, curious Buddhist dude (his words) with a smile that lights up a room (my words). There’s something mischeivious in the way he looks at you, like he knows it all and finds it all hilarious. Might have something to do with all the years he spent in a monastory in his twenties.

As a single parent with a toddler in tow, getting out to meditation classes isn’t easy.

Fortunately, I didn’t have to go anywhere to work with Peter.

He’s got an online course called A Month of Mindfulness, designed to support you in building a daily meditation practice.

Just what I needed. And wanted. I signed up.

Still bed-ridden, I cut myself some slack for the beginning of the course, and listened to Peter’s 30 minute guided meditations while lying down in bed. There’s five available on the course, all themed around their purpose. You can discover Mindfulness, Meet in the Heart, Undo, find Equanimity and practice LovingKindness.

Undoing – that was me.

Always a doer, with lists and plans and ideas and ambition… I was over it. I was ready to let all of that Doing fall by the wayside and just chill the f’out.

Beside, I wasn’t so sure the Doing was working anyway. My business was sputtering along. My website was losing traffic. And I was on day 8 of being bed-ridden when I barely ever get sick. We yogis don’t get sick right? Immune, super strong, and just generally superior to your average human being and all that.

Well… to cut right to the chase… it’s Day 30, the last day on my Month of Mindfulness and I have successfully Undone all my Doing and proudly become an Undoer. Thanks to Peter’s gentle steerage and soft suggestions… my ambitious, striving, yearning, and grasping Self has been successful laid to rest.

Or at least laid to bed for awhile.

In the midst of all this Undoing – when I meditated every day and gave up on lists and plans and ideas and just went with the flow and what arose moment to moment – my business has taken off, I’ve been admitted to a well-knowned University creative writing course and I’ve realised I only have three months left to complete my Prana Flow 200 hour Certification.

There’s been a helluva a lot of doing, but I haven’t been the Doer. Or I have, but I’m not driving the boat. At least with my mind. Or there’s detachment to results. Or something. You get the picture. You know what I’m talking about.

In the midst of all this Undoing, I’ve also started waking at 6am again every morning, and getting up two hours before my toddler to bang the keyboard and do whatever arises with no plans no lists and no fixed ideas.

As an Undoer, I’m getting more done than ever before.

And it’s all on track.

No, I shouldn’t say that, there is no track right? No path either.

It’s all getting results.

No, damn it. Results aren’t what it’s about either.

How about… it’s all fun!

Yes, that’s what it is.

Peter’s Month of Mindfulness meditation course has helped me to Undo the Striver and in (un-)doing so discover a playful side to Self which delights in (un-)Doing.

I don’t know exactly how he worked his magic, especially since after listening to his guided meditations a handful of times, it was back to plain, old, sitting by myself and watching my Mind and Breath do their thing.

I suspect it might have been his short emails of encouragement which landed in my inbox every few days.

Not every day, which would led to overwhlem and DELETE.

But just when you wondered when you were going to hear from him again.

These emails had titles like:

  • Beginning with Awareness
  • Making Space
  • Being Vulnerable
  • Meeting the Unknown
  • And my personal favourite… Skillful Longing

Ah… who knew one could skillfully long? I thought longing was out once you signed up to the spiritual (non-)path?

In his emails, Peter would discuss something for a paragraph or two, and then just offer questions to use in our practice. I suspect that this curious nature of his has been cultivated over years of meditation. A natural antidote to judgement, curiousity asks us to look again at what we think is going on in our minds and bodies, to go deeper and see what might lie beneath.

In this email called Skillful Longing, Peter asks us to ask ourselves:

‘What do I really want? If I could abide in any qualities of being, what would they be? In my heart of hearts, what matters most to me?’

It’s juicy stuff indeed. And in this month of Un-Doing, when I’ve effortlessly got more done than ever before, I have discovered this.

I want to be joyous and playful and delightful and free. These are the qualities of being that matter most to me. From this, all else arises naturally.

So thank you Peter, and your Month of Mindfulness. Not only have I re-established my beloved meditation practice, I also have a store of wisdom to call on anytime it drifts away from me.

Best of all, you’ve turned a lifelong Doer into a playful, joyous, delighted and free Undoer.

Gold, absolute gold.

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