There is a song I sing to my daughter as she goes to sleep.
I am hollow bamboo, open up, let my light shine through.
I am hollow bamboo, open up, let my love flow through.
It’s simple and beautiful.
And its concept is not lost on me.
When I am at my best, living my best life, I am allowing things to move through me. I am hollow bamboo. Things are not getting stuck, left to fester in dark places, burrowing in to suffocate in pity, shame, or jealousy. They just flow through. The words of my self critics don’t wound; They don’t stick. I hear them but I pass them through, not allowing them to plant and grow. I don’t allow destructive ideas to take hold of me and transform from an idea, to guilt, to shame, to an overall feeling of not being enough. Ideas like that clog up my flowing hollow bamboo, if I’m not careful. Those ideas kill creativity, self-love, and motivation. Those ideas, if left to gather – will. They will cluster like bad plaque in an artery and they will clog. And although something useful may slowly drip out of the other side, it is, definitely, not my best self. Those ideas leave me wishing I’d done something different in the past or making anxiety ridden promises to myself (and my critics) about the future.
In short, I think hollow bamboo is a perfect metaphor for mindfulness. It’s about being in THIS moment, not two hours ago, or two weeks from today, or two decades ago, stuck on something that will not unlodge its pestering self from my could-be, would-be hollow bamboo.
Recently my hollow bamboo has been more like old plumbing in a turn of the century home – amazingly fragile and very easily clogged. With this in mind, I turned my energy to mindfulness – I researched, I explored, I experimented. And then, I dove in head first for a two month mindfulness challenge.
First, let me say, after two months of pretty dedicated work I am sleeping better, more honest with myself and with others, and less volatile in all of my emotional states. These results were not an overnight banging success. They have slowly emerged – their growth more like a whisper than a fireworks display.
Following suit was my understanding of mindfulness. It’s been a slow, oozing, melting understanding. It’s such a simple concept that it’s provocatively confusing. Mindfulness is about being in this moment. It’s about being present and aware of what you are feeling right now. After my first mindfulness mediation, I had two blaring questions: First, how in the hell does one remain in this very moment? And second, quite honestly, what’s the friggin’ point?!
Two months later, I totally get the point – at a deep, mind, body, and spirit level – I totally get the point.
Research in neuroscience continues to point to the power of mindfulness mediation to literally restructure our brains to increase compassion, focus, and life-satisfaction (just to name a few). My experience leaves me able to check off a few of those results as my own. My mindfulness journey unwound my relentless pursuit of outcome driven thinking, doing, and being. I’m a doer. I like outcomes. I live for them, really. I’m a professional life coach. Much of my professional life is built around helping people reach outcomes. So, let me be clear, I have not given up reaching for goals, creating personal visions, or exploring limiting beliefs. What I have done though, is create time to quite my type A, overachiever brain, to do something like – notice my feet, feel nature on my skin, focus on my breathing, or bask in the joy of simply being alive.
I’ve gone from struggling (and dear reader, believe me when I say struggling) with a five-minute mediation where upon I got so frustrated trying to quiet my thoughts, that I literally yelled at myself, to 25-minute mediations where I “notice” my intruding thoughts and kindly, gently release them.
Here are my post challenge lessons:
- Quieting my mind is not synonyms with not thinking.
- As few as 5-minutes a day focused on being mindful makes me a better mom, partner, leader, and overall human being.
- The mindfulness achieved through dedicated practice transfers into all areas of my life.
- Everyone is “cut out” for mindfulness. Its values escape no single living being. We are never to0 young, too old, too high or too low on the corporate ladder to begin.
- This is perhaps my new drug.
Ask yourself, are you hollow bamboo?
Does your light shine through? Does your love flow though?
Or…are you clogged? Dull? Not so hollow and not so shiny?
Then ask yourself, are you willing to begin your own mindfulness challenge?
Here are a few free resources I found wildly helpful:
- 5-minute mindfulness mediation for beginners https://youtu.be/LDu4-dyA7DE
- 15-minute mindfulness mediation on joy. This is one of my favorites. https://youtu.be/tCpG2VkOjW8
- On-line mindfulness training for educators: www.Mindfulschools.org
- Excellent website with loads of mindfulness resources: www.mindful.org
Tiffany is founder and lead Certified Professional Coach at Evolutionary Consulting. She provides personal and professional coaching, facilitates workshops, and creatively inspires many during speaking engagements.
Find her at: evolutionary-consulting.com
and on facebook: https://www.facebook.com/evolutionaryconsultingllc/