You know how it is - you complete your first 4 sessions or 8 week Breathworks Mindfulness for Stress or Mindfulness for Health Course and the honeymoon is on! 'Inside this new love die'. How could it have taken so long to find this! You practice, you feel refreshed, it’s a new lease of life, bliss blinks on the horizon, it’s like you’ve discovered another planet, another way of being in this world!

In no time you’re making the bridge between practice and everyday life...responding not reacting…pausing...breathing…feeling your feet in your socks…the trees are alive, ‘they give off such hints of gladness’, clouds moving across the sky, blooming and fading, all is flow, there is a peaceful place in the centre of your being, lines of poetry ripple across the still lake of your mind, your senses renewed, colours brighter, you feel understood, this is what interrelated means! You could sell your house, move into a community with all the other people on your 8 week course (you swap emails) maybe you’ll buy a camper van, drive from one mindfulness drop in to the next, life is full, this is what you’ve been waiting for!

That was Tuesday. By Thursday the demands of life are congregating outside your terrace like an occupy encampment. There are people to consider with complex lives entangled like telephone wires, loved one’s need loving, emergencies arise, kids need more than you’ve got to give, work is illustrative of perpetual instability, no one in your household has the ‘clean up’ gene except you! You can taste despair in the cold morning air...’shouting their bad advice…mend my life’.

Internally there’s been a slow erosion of confidence and since nature abhors a vacuum the inner critic has mounted its throne and is reviewing your mindfulness practice:

I knew you wouldn’t keep it up. I could have told you that. You see other people have more space, they’re more disciplined, more organised. You’re so faddy! Give it up! 

Everybody else seems to be able to sustain a meditation practice but you. Then there (everybody else) is! In your mind’s eye; in their candle-lit, bliss-filled, soft-fabric-hung-meditation-dens, exploring the depths of emptiness, sitting still in a silent hammock of limitless concentration, undistracted by the meteor storms of ‘things to do’, undisturbed by the nibbling fish of worthlessness, by the totally pointless, fatuously billowing productions of the mind. 

So, determined to save the only life you can save, you resolve to meditate, but as you sit you find yourself bullet pointing your life again, a tightness grips your intestines, the fear that you’ll forget any or all of the things that you have to do. Eventually, re-believing that thoughts are indeed facts, you get up from the cushion and return to that class A drug: ‘The List’. Returning to the internet you start emailing like you’re life depended on it, four, five, six dispatched, feeling good. Next! Complete a report, write a blog, email some friends, slip off to facebook, but there’s a sinking feeling in the belly because this small attempt to find comfort fails. Back to the list and now it’s 6 items shorter, feeling like you’re back on top. The next day...the list, work, list, work, adding more things to the list, more work, list, work, list. The inbox refills, projects snag, stall, or go into reverse and all the time you’ve made up from not meditating is gone and now you’re behind again. You start to feel tired, irritable, you wonder what the point of life is when you spend every Nano second working or thinking about work or preparing for work or getting over work or trying to stop thinking about work work work!!! 

Then you remember you could do something else. You remember why you tried meditation in the first place, the calm, the centredness, the vividness, the breath. You make a fresh resolve to start over. 

It’s already late enough, and a wild night, and the road full of fallen branches and stones. But little by little, as you left their voices behind, the stars began to burn through the sheets of clouds, and there was a new voice which you slowly recognised as your own, that kept you company as you strode deeper and deeper into the world.

It doesn’t matter if you falter...each moment is an opportunity to start over no matter what’s gone before. Get your cushions, get comfortable, come back to the breath, come back to what matters...