It started as an urgent need to change my life. I was troubled by stress-related health problems, hopelessness and feelings of despair encircled me on a daily basis, and I had virtually lost any semblance of perspective.
Starting a mindfulness meditation course
Four weeks later, following a synchronistic conversation with a friend, I started on my 8 week Mindfulness Meditation Course at Evolution in Brighton. It was as if I had just been handed a mental and emotional roadmap, a framework for recovery. I grabbed the opportunity enthusiastically but with a little trepidation.
I felt ready to embark on this process, following years of psychotherapy. I had exhausted trying to work things out through the prism of the egoic mind and had also come to the conclusion that the process of analysing things in this way has a tendency to become circular and unfulfilling. I was already searching for a way to approach things from a more spiritual perspective, a position of non-self judgement and observation. Mindfulness meditation enabled me to do this.
Observing what’s going on
As the course progressed, one thing became startlingly clear. I realised how difficult it is to do what seems like the simplest of things, just sitting with oneself and observing whatever is happening outside, in one’s body, and on the inside. At the beginning of the process, having the normal distractions removed, my mind went into overdrive and started to create them, from mental ’list-making to physical restlessness.
When focusing on stillness and not actively thinking, just ‘being‘ with oneself and allowing whatever came up with detached observance, my head was suddenly filled with the squawking of the hungry ‘Monkey Mind, desperate for attention.
Being a passive observer
As the weeks went on, however, I learnt to become more of the passive observer, and it became easier to separate oneself from the dramas and stories of the ego self. Acknowledging that resistance to the process is an intrinsic part of it, allowed me to be kinder to myself during it, and not give up.
The most important discovery I made, however, was that I could break the vicious cycle of thoughts, stressful feelings, and then physical symptoms. When before these had operated in a circular loop, the process of observing all physical sensations in the body, the ‘body scan’ as it is called, allowed me to separate out emotion from physical sensation.
Learning not to judge
I learnt not to judge what was arising as ‘good’ or bad’, simply as a sensation in the body, not to create a fearful ‘story’ around it. And I was able to have some freedom from the the problems that my mind had been creating, and some inner peace, for the first time in a long while.
Through this meditation , I have learnt to become more mindful in my everyday life too. I have realised what I only understood on an intellectual level before starting this journey. That is, that when one is truly in the present moment, there is no space for unhappiness or fear.
Written by Jeremy Brown
Photography by Clare Hudson