It’s an exciting week, the official start of a new pathway I have been embarking on. Tomorrow, I will start the Breathworks Mindfulness teacher training programme. It’s not unusual for me to start a new venture, to say I’m going to do something and then make it happen, often against quite unfavourable odds, but something about this feels reassuringly different.
In mindfulness, we often refer to two different modes of mind, doing and being. Like many people, the doing mode has often been my default, habitual setting. That’s not necessarily a bad thing as it has enabled me to do so much. I have goals. I get things done. I move forward. I couldn’t have got a first-class from the Royal Academy of Music without it. I had a successful career as a musician. I was striving for more, better, the next thing, analysing what I needed to do to get there and putting it into action. But I also ran on autopilot, doing things out of habit, often without identifying or listening to my needs. Apart from the times when my body stopped me. In the short-term, it may have appeared very successful, but in the long-term it caught up with me. It was unsustainable.
As my mindfulness practice has developed, I’ve been more able to recognise this. I’ve also learnt how helpful, and vital, my being mode is. It helps me to take a step back, to gain perspective and make creative choices. It allows me to observe the inner workings of my mind, safe in the knowledge that I don’t have to buy into everything it tells me. It encourages me to tune into my needs and honour my values. It brings a gentle acceptance, being content with where I am.
By practising mindfulness, I’ve been learning to shift to a more helpful balance, aligning my aspirations and goals with my needs and values. As I reach the start of my teacher training, what feels different? I’m allowing it to naturally unfold. I have goals in mind, ones that fill me with purpose and intention, that make my heart swell and my face light up, but I’m not forcing it, setting strict deadlines or having harsh expectations. I know that my teaching will ultimately come from my own experience. To be the authentic mindfulness teacher I aspire to be, I need to embody it. By embodying mindfulness, I am showing myself compassion and honouring my needs.
As I dance between the doing and being modes, my practice is my protector. Approaching my training in this way feels every bit as exciting as being caught up in the doing mode, but without a lingering fear that it could unravel at any point.