Tag Archives: mindfulness

I’m Nearly Free – Keeping Mindful in Challenging Times

19 Oct

Prison Bars with Candle

About 17 years ago, I wrote a song about being imprisoned for a crime I had not committed. I based it on David Bain’s case – although I had no proof of his innocence. A patient visiting me, however, had a strong conviction that he was not guilty of murdering his family, and communicated with him regularly by post, visiting him on several occasions in prison. In 2000, in a corner of the now dearly missed Borders Bookshop here in Auckland,  I remember watching Joe Karam, the trusted  champion of David Bain’s innocence, promote his second book on this gripping case. I followed with a presentation and reading of my own from the newly released ‘Healing Ways.’

Then, as now, such synchronicities had meaning, helping me to keep on track during turbulent times.

The song – “I’m Nearly Free” – is a personal favourite although sadly doesn’t attract many ‘Likes’ in social media. Every song has its own personality, and I have learned to accept not all appeal to the masses. “I’m Nearly Free” maybe only ever really talked to me!

“It’s the crash of thunder in the dead of night                                                                            It’s the mystic wonder in a candle light …….                                                                                In the dead of night, in the candle light, I’m nearly free.”

 

In challenging and uncertain times, when faced with an unknown future at the hands of those in whom we have little trust, the solution is to stay present ‘in the moment.’

I have found that focusing my gaze on the tip of a a single candle flame does the trick every time. I allow all in my peripheral visual fields to go blurred – easy for me anyway as without my specs I am very shortsighted! Then a focus on my breath, and I am there – free from an imprisonment of fear and doubt. The mind slows and stops playing its wicked game of blame and shame, of anger and self-pity.  A simple sure-fire (oops) step towards in-the-moment mindfulness – or maybe more accurately mind-free-ness.

I was reminded of all this when, with great anticipation, I tore open the Book Depository bubble-wrap last week to reveal the single-lit candle on the cover of Matthew Fox’s new book ‘Meister Eckhart – A Mystic-Warrior for Our Times.’ Eckhart was the 13th century Christian mystic, who found God and the Holy Spirit throughout the cosmos, within the creative process and within all things and beings, including ourselves. He was of course – like Matthew Fox himself – ex-communicated for expressing such radical and thoroughly deviant opinions!

meister

In his new book, Fox imagines Eckhart meeting and sharing his philosophies with modern spiritual and religious free-thinkers such as Teilhard de Chardin, Thich Nhat Hanh, Carl Jung, Black Elk, Rumi, and Adrienne Rich. So far, I am discovering there is much agreement about how grace enters our lives when we listen deeply to what is present in our lives, to the presence of another being and to the natural world that surrounds us. When we stop trying too hard, when we let go of solutions, and when we are still. In this state we co-create – as we simply allow creativity to flow through us from the cosmos.

Watching the tip of the candle flame somehow helps me to achieve this state by blurring out unnecessary distractions, and by focusing on the profound simplicity of the here and now. It allows me to escape from the dungeon of dark and fearful thoughts, and to indeed feel ‘nearly free.’

There is a Hopi proverb: “Thoughts are like arrows: once released, they strike their mark. Guard them well or one day you may be your own victim.”

We may not be able to control the dastardly acts of others, or the ill-will that prevails in our lives from dark sources, but we can protect ourselves from the venom we concoct for our own ingestion.

And when my own attempts to escape from such imprisoning thoughts result only in temporary tastes of freedom, I have found it pays to be on good terms with the prison guard.

Strangely enough, I have also found he looks a lot like me.