The Breeze on Your Ankles
This is from Simon Parke’s newsletter and is a very clear description of mindfulness for people who think they can’t do it. Hope you like it. Greetings again from Seaford perched precariously on the white-cliffed south coast of England, (or ‘Stormhaven’ if you’ve read any of my Abbot Peter murder mysteries. And on that matter, as I write, an interested publisher is reading a synopsis and opening few chapters of a possible new Abbot Peter adventure. Watch this space.) Meanwhile, in the real world, I was in a company recently on behalf of the Mind Clinic – and talking with a very gifted man. He can do everything I can’t, and much else besides – but his negative thoughts are destroying his life. And then he mentioned it: ‘I was reading about that thing that’s very popular in companies at the moment, meant to calm you down or something.’ ‘Mindfulness?’ I ventured. ‘Yeah, that’s it. All about feeling the breeze on your ankles -’ ‘Well – ’ ‘And I actually did that and it was nice. I went to the park in Worthing, sat down and felt the breeze round my feet… and it was very calming.’ Some background here: this is a man happiest when driving his motorbike at 140mph round a bend, leaning almost horizontal to the ground, three inches from death. And I confess I’d never heard of the ‘breeze on the ankles’ meditation, but allowed him to continue. ‘The trouble is, as soon as I get into the office, that mindfulness stuff is forgotten, because I just stand there feeling angry with my colleagues, they swear all the time, we’re just different. More background: He used ‘fuck’ and ‘shit’ quite freely during our meeting. I now respond: ‘But that is mindfulness,’ I say. ‘Mindfulness is noticing what you’re feeling with acceptance. So here you are in the office, noticing anger towards your colleagues, noticing a judgemental spirit towards them – and then perhaps letting them pass through you… rather than kidnap you.’ ‘That’s mindfulness?’ ‘Mindfulness is simply being present to what is happening inside you, awareness of the moment. It’s not complicated… and you don’t have to be in a park. If it’s noticing that you’re angry and getting judgemental, then great! The noticed is much less damaging.’ ‘The trouble is, with me, it doesn’t pass through – it grows very quickly and the whole thing becomes a jungle of judgement and my head’s all over the place.’ ‘So notice the jungle of judgement… accept that’s what’s happening inside you and then let it go like you might a balloon on a windy day. It’s just a thought – it’s not who you are.’ ‘My girl friend told me my negative thoughts are lies.’ ‘Then your girlfriend is very wise. She should set up as a guru.’ Simon’s website is at http://simonparke.com/ It’s worth a visit.