11. Meditation / Mindfulness

August 25, 2015
Barbara Cook

The next day February 14   2015 :-

As I said last week, “It turns out that all I need to do is surrender my resistance and control, and allow my feelings to come to the surface.” So now there are some lonely, bereft feelings, but here’s something new— there’s mainly an empty space. Not melancholy, whistling wind now, just empty. I don’t know, and can’t control, the outcome of   a) what this book will become or, referring to my personal situation I’m going through, b) anyone else’s progress or journey.

I am just staying with that empty space, which I’ve recently learned to call ‘the neutral space’. My mind usually abhors the vacuum, and rushes in to fill it with  … something … anything ! There are many possibilities: endless lists and narratives or any kind of distracting thought. But now, every time I spot myself indulging in unhelpful, fearful thoughts, or replaying the past or imagining the future, or wondering about other people, I remind myself that none of these things actually exist!  I can’t know about other people’s journeys, or what will happen with this book. None of that exists here in the present moment. Gawd, I’ve got more than enough to go on with here on my own journey!  Those thoughts are all distractions; endless distractions to allow me to run away from myself, to run off on myself, to refuse to sit with myself as I feel lonely, bereft, or even joyfully, tearfully receiving blessings, and needing to be held. In my book, Part 3, you’ll see the origins of this.

I need my mindfulness/meditation practice more than ever, and it’s something I seem to be doing in every moment now, not just for the thirty minutes I spend every morning. Here’s an image of what the meditating mind could look like:

blue sky


or perhaps this:






And here’s what my meditating mind looks like:

meditation mind

Until recently, my meditation has mainly consisted of endlessly wandering off into other thoughts, which seem more important than focusing on me. Shopping lists, planning the day, worrying about other people’s problems, designing a dress, choreographing a dance, these all seem worthy of my attention. Me? My breath? Worthy of my attention? Not so much.

This is a good time to tell you a little more about my meditation. I’ve been practising meditation on and off for about twenty-five years now – mainly off. I have to admit that I’d mainly used it as a filling station – to top up my peace and equilibrium (and only turn to it when I’m in crisis, you understand). Then I’d have long periods when, having had my fix, I’d let it slip, I’d get too busy, my crisis passed, I’d prioritize other things, I didn’t need it any more as I was busy getting on with my ‘real’ life. Even though I knew it was good for me, I got a little bit impatient with myself that I couldn’t get ‘good at it’ – the only time I got close to having a calm mind was when I accidentally fell asleep.

So I’d let it slip – it couldn’t be that important, and I wasn’t that good at it anyway.

P.S. A ‘real-time’ note about my book progress:- August 25, 2015

Just yesterday I’ve sent back the modifications to the galley proofs!

“What are they?” I hear you ask. It’s the page layout as the book will actually appear, with the page numbers, chapter headings and squirly line breaks all in place. I had to proof read all that again, and submit final changes. I also needed to approve the all-important front cover they had designed in keeping with my mock-up concept. After having second thoughts and running it by a number of different people, who all found it confusing, I’ve ditched the whole concept and gone with something completely different. This about-turn doesn’t faze me at all, as I’m familiar with this part of the creative process. This happens for myself and my students all the time in choreography. I try the idea out, and then, only when I can see it out there in real life will I know if it’s working or not. I must say, this publishing process has made me look at book covers in a whole new light. The feeling behind an image is very specific, and instantly recognized by the subconscious part of people’s brains.

After the next phase of to-ing and fro-ing, it could be as little as six weeks before my book Good Choice is available on the Balboa website, with retail distribution worldwide in early December. And yes! There’ll definitely be a book launch.

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