This post is Grassroots, meaning a reader posted it directly. If you see an issue with it, contact an editor.
If you’d like to post a Grassroots post, click here!

March 12, 2020

Mindfulness Isn’t Always Pretty: My Journey to Discover its Gritty Side

You can’t taste freedom, until you first risk blood.

I read the lyric from my journal. I couldn’t believe it.

There must be some other way.

I play nice and safe. I have done it my entire life.

Call it instinct.

But I knew I’d hear this chorus again.

Except, this next visit wouldn’t be as pretty.

A sniper’s bullet didn’t pull me from the crosshairs of the classroom.
A robbery didn’t steal me out of a teller’s station.
An eviction notice didn’t remove me from my house.

A series of failures though is what helped provide the strength to face a fear of risk.

Mindfulness isn’t smelling the iris next door.
It’s not listening to children playing in the park.

It’s gritty.

It’s raw.

It’s the work of giving focused attention to our thoughts.
Following my thoughts led me to make mistakes.
The pattern’s undeniable.

But my defense was ready to scribble through the statement I wrote. I hoped to do it with wealth.

You can’t taste freedom, until you first risk blood.

It’s a risk.

I can’t talk about freedom without mentioning risk.

I see risk everywhere in life. Even as I write this sentence, I’m facing risk, accepting risk, delaying risk, and avoiding risk.

Also, figuring in risk is part of my decision-making process. I’m aware of risk most when making important decisions.

It’s as if I’m playing a pretend game of dodgeball in my head.

A risk level to me is the same as predicted pain levels. If I go over here, how bad would it hurt if the red, rubber ball hit me? How about if I move there?

I refer to my memories and take note of the spot where I’m certain I’d find the least amount of pain. Then, I run there.

But our destinies lie in embracing risk.

This isn’t something I have done much before. I wasn’t ready to take the risk at age 47. Still, I faced one rejection after another in my email inbox. I was an unwanted man without a company home.

Yet, what I’ve tried up to this point hasn’t worked. I’m out of ideas for other jobs. So, I could pour all my energy into writing perfect resumes, or I could look at other options.

Whatever I did next, I wanted it to come closer to self-actualization. Reading about the self-actualized in college, I visualized myself living out this idea. I imagined him.

He, my ideal-self, loved life. He slurped every drop off the Popsicle stick. He exited bed excited to start each day.

Whether my actualized self faced joy or frustration, he was ready to embrace it.

He was a soul who cared about himself and others. He had enough money to meet everyone’s needs.

My ideal-self created a positive impact on other people’s lives but not at the cost of his health.

I knew the unhealthy side of teaching. I experienced it three times. Teaching was an option if I was ready to fight for exercise and sleep at the end of each workday.

This meant my job had to remain unfinished. I had to be okay with it. But I wasn’t. The career’s landscape was changing.

My visions of becoming my best self were a fading photo I wanted back.

But the Universe answered my wish with failure.

I sure could not be at my best:

• Earning $13.50 an hour.

• Confronting classrooms of chaos.

• Working part-time as a college professor.

• Paying down $25K worth of debt.

I needed to wait and struggle with gaining liberty from debt. Plus, I’ll suffer from the effects of my illusions or survival-thinking patterns.

These would have to fail.

They did.

Explosive situations followed the fuse of my career path.
Each trigger was set to ignite with a single incident of:

• False accusations.

• Confusing campus politics.

• Conflict with controlling bosses.

These emotional, charged events detonated the bundles; one-by-one the dynamite cells engaged.

Before returning to the lyrics I feared, I had to relearn some lessons too.

The Universe filled in my assignment book.

• Be mindful.

• Retrain my brain.

• Take in positive energies.

As I opened one self-help book after another, the tool belt of my subconscious unraveled.

Each instrument in its leather-bound sheath gleamed with promise.

• Speed journals.

• Affirmations.

• Meditation.

• Visualization.

I was listening. I was mindful. It was hard at work.

Self-care is not a honeymoon. It is a full-time, lifelong effort.

Oh, look here’s my hammer to build a new career.
The pen’s in my hand.

Why not start a freelance writing business?

So, I have.
It’s exciting and scary.
But I am mindful of all the thoughts that have brought me here.

Finally, I dare to pick apart the meaning of these lyrics in their entirety.

You can’t taste freedom, until you first risk blood.

Look at my Life.

Have I taught you any less?

Love all. Serve all.

To be at my best, I must be mindful.
Peel away the skin of romantic mindfulness, and I discover its mechanics.

• Awaken.
• Bask in gratitude.
• Revitalize our minds.
• Retrain thoughts.
• Refrain from hurting others.
• Risk.
• Sleep.
• Repeat.

Any questions?

The world needs us to spread our gospel of mindfulness.

It’s our awakening story.  Hit the comment button and share with us a tiny bit of it.

We each have a tale to tell. We each have something to share.


The Universe is waiting for us.

Read 2 Comments and Reply

Read 2 comments and reply

Top Contributors Latest

Jeff Syblik  |  Contribution: 300

Image: word clouds