Falling Apart Mindfully
In the natural world decomposition is an essential aspect of life. Leaves turn to mulch, break down and nourish the soil, and in turn, the microbes, insects, plants and animals. There is, it seems, a healthy dynamic of shedding the no longer necessary in order to sustain life, so that life can remain fresh and vibrant. There is no 'holding on' to what needs to be let go of. Nature is balanced in this way.
Us humans are not quite the same. When we need to fall apart, we don't, or at least don't make it easy. We have a tendency to cling on to the metaphorical skin we need to shed. This grasping is our mental ill-health. We don't realise that there is a new shiny fresh skin underneath. Instead we hold on to the worn out and withered parts of ourselves, fearful that we will lose ourselves in some way.
We live in a paradigm where propping ourselves up is seen as more important than letting ourselves fail apart. When we are poorly, we force ourselves to go to work. When we are going through a perceived difficult change, we try to maintain some kind of consistency and normality, at least on the surface. Underneath, entropy is taking its natural course, only to be thwarted by denial, pills, and distractions. This clinging takes much of our energy, until at last, we are forced through the change; what we might call a mental breakdown.
If only we could learn to live with the dynamic flow of life; to continually renew ourselves and not be afraid to let go. Failure, mistakes, break downs would not be taken too seriously; just a natural event that leads to further growth. Mental ill-health (as observed by Shaman communities for example) would no be seen as pathological, but a special opportunity to deepen our understanding of ourselves.
We could say that the modern Western world has created mental illness, and now we are trying to take it away. However, it seems that we are strongly attached to the principle of preservation, and ignorant of our ability to hold space for ourselves and others, so that we can fall apart well. The stigma of mental illness is a good example of this.
Mindfulness meditation can provide a systematic method that can enable us to tune into the decomposing aspects of our selves. It can help us to notice what we need to let go of so that we can actually let go, whilst allowing us to welcome in the new. All of this is happening in every moment.
We will be exploring mental health in our 'Mindful Enquiry' on the 14th June 2018 at the Boatyard cafe in Cullercoats, North Tyneside. We hope to see you there. See our website for details: www.scholofmindfulness.co.uk