By Simon Cole
Guest Writer for Wake Up World
Looking Behind the Image for the Subtleties That Calm…
“In your face” is how life seems to be so much of the time, and in so many ways — banner headlines, sound-bites, bright lights, advertising, high speed, high volume, high energy. It’s thrilling, stimulating, invigorating, sometimes scary, full on or full off, and blinding in its impact.
Yes – blinding! A world of primary colours with none of the pinks and lavenders and water-colour blues. Without the comfort of soft edges and gentle gestures. No nuancing of texture or meaning. Read the headline, never mind the rest! 140 characters for everything that needs to be said!
Loud, fast and furious is great for the adrenaline rush, but after the rush comes the downer and eventually we pay a price. How? Adrenaline is a drug — one the body makes itself. But it still acts like a drug, it’s still addictive. Addictive means you crave more and if you can’t get more you have a reaction. That means you need it ever faster, louder, more intense. Or you need it to go on longer while you drive yourself to keep up. And if you can’t keep up, or it isn’t there ever crazier, you sink into boredom, into depression, into anger. You take it out on yourself or others or the world; and now you have no way out, because these are extremes too and you’ve lost touch with the subtleties which can give you a rest from all the hyperactivity and hypertension.
You’ve become de-sensitised and soon you’ll be demoralised, so here’s an idea:
Look for what you’re not seeing!
One of the things that happens with life thrusting everything in our faces is that we lose the ability to look for ourselves. I heard about a little boy of one or two, whose grandfather used to come on Skype to talk to him. He would say hello to the face on the screen and then he’d be off round the back to find his grandfather. That could be a lesson for us, because mostly we’ve stopped looking round the back.
So the next time you get the third email from your boss chasing the sales figures you still haven’t finalised, don’t mutter your usual expletives, don’t panic because you haven’t even started them, don’t beat yourself up because you’re always late, just remember that you are important because you are the one needed to give the answer.
And when the slogan reads, “All you ever wanted to get ahead”, wonder about the real cost, because for everything we choose there is something we reject.
When we’ve learnt to look behind – or underneath, or inside, or anywhere except at what hits us first – then we discover the subtleties. The best thing about ‘50 Shades of Grey‘ was the title. Grey isn’t just monochrome. Nor is brown or red or green or blue. You don’t have to be an artist to notice that the sea stretching towards the horizon isn’t just one shade of blue and the sky which meets it, a different shade again. Or a musician to hear that the wind in the oak tree sounds different to the ash, which sounds different to the pine.
So when you’re sitting in your garden or out in the park and you’re thinking that all you can hear is traffic, traffic, traffic… stay with the noise, however tiresome it is, and gradually you will notice that it isn’t just a wall of a single sound, that other sounds are there too – even if you don’t hear the nightingale sing in Berkeley Square!
Hidden depths? No, not really, not hidden, we just aren’t noticing. Living has many layers. It can arouse, but it can also soothe and calm. We just have to know how to look.
About the author:
Simon Cole: I am the author of the Changemakers title “Stillness in Mind: A Companion to Mindfulness, Meditation and Living”. That book is written not just from my long practice of meditation but also from my experience and teaching as a counsellor of around 30 years standing. I worked in different settings in the UK, including for many years in the National Health Service, and moved 8 years ago to start a residential counselling and retreat centre in south-west France in the foothills of the Pyrenees. Here I now offer training in mindfulness and meditation and a “counselling of mindfulness and nature”, incorporating all that this part of the world offers… the wildness, the mountains, the clear air, the tranquillity. My practice is humanistic and my philosophy is heavily influenced by the insights of Martin Buber into the activity of human relating and the concept of ‘I and Thou’.
Links to my sites:
- Main site: www.life-counselling.co.uk
- Blog: www.mindful-living.typepad.com
- Facebook: www.facebook.com/simon.cole.58323
- Stillness in Mind (the book): www.stillnessinmind.com