Dr Jan Goss

Costa, Coldplay & Bottle Tops

Results aside, there seems to have been a depressed air post referendum, like we are all caught in a thick, endless smog, that there is no escaping….or is it just me?! There seems to have been a feeling of hopelessness and helplessness, a feeling that is far from ‘Great’, pervading Britain. Personally, I have been feeling a bit like a dazed teenager awakening from the bubble of care-free childhood, asking my self (quite a lot) ‘what’s the point?’

Please bear with me….

As I neared home this morning after my walk along the estuary and through the woods I saw a young woman coming towards me, on her way into work, her hood was up in defence of the rain, cigarette in one hand and clutching an extra-large Costa cup in the other, neither seemed to be ‘doing it’ for her this morning, if indeed, they ever did. I swear her eyes were closed…she looked like she was sleep-walking and I couldn’t help seeing her as a metaphor for the world at large. We are all sleep-walking through life to some extent, distracting our self with whatever will hold our rapidly diminishing attention spans for a few fleeting moments. The irony of distracting our self from our self and how we really feel, is that we need more and more input to maintain the same level of distraction, to momentarily alleviate the fears and difficulties we feel, in simply being human.

The timing of Glastonbury was good, for millions of us it provided the perfect distraction (and antidote) to the news of Friday morning and the sense of division and discord that it brought with it – music has the power to bring people together, to unite us and bring us into a visceral ‘feeling’ state, to get us out of our heads and into our bodies (as mindfulness does). I didn’t see much of it, but I did see Coldplay. I am a recent convert – for years I just didn’t ‘get it’ and then I saw this interview with Zane Lowe, (I’ve just watched it again, all 1hr 9mins of it!), where Chris Martin lays his soul bare (about 3 minutes in), then I bought the emotive album Ghost Stories off the back of that, and now I am hooked. Whether you like their music or not (and I really didn’t), it is almost impossible to deny the sense of joy and dare I say euphoria that they brought to the 135,000 people in the rain and mud of Worthy Farm and the millions of us watching at home. I smiled for 90 mins in awe of their ability to unite so many people and embody and transmit so much love. They have an immense talent for uniting people – connecting them to themselves and connecting them to one another.

Watching the interview and seeing the concert, I feel inspired again. Chris Martin seems to have worked through a lot of personal ‘stuff’ and he shines from the inside, he embodies and exudes love. There is always treasure in life’s most difficult experiences if we can open our self to be vulnerable to them, to just sit with our difficult feelings and work to accept whatever arises. It isn’t easy, but then most worthwhile outcomes require patience and effort. The personal (aka ‘spiritual’) journey is by definition a lifetime’s work and our mindfulness practice is the key to building resilience and happiness.

It’s been two days since I wrote most of the above and in that time and process something has shifted in me. This morning whilst walking on the beach I picked up a seemingly innocuous lid from a fizzy drinks bottle. Initially I walked past it, as I often have with plastic bottle tops (especially in my apathy of the past week), but a few metres on I was prompted to make a u-turn. I realised it was important to pick that up too, as I do the bigger items of plastic that wash up on our shoreline. Tons of these small items of plastic are ending up inside marine life and birds and the bigger items play their part too as they break up into smaller pieces in our oceans – and then there are the microbeads found in toiletries, which wash directly into our water system. If you want to practice mindfulness, you may like to sign up to a ‘Plastic Free July’ – this is part of living a mindful life too, of becoming more conscious, more awake.

The bottle top reminded me that every thing I do or don’t do, however small, has an impact, and if we are all taking care of those small things, it has a big impact (just like voting, or not voting), we do have power individually and even more so, collectively. And so, I am encouraged to delve deeper into my meditation practice after a period of apathy. I am encouraged to generate peace within my self, because I know that will bring some peace, however finite or infinite, into the world. If we all do that, it will have a huge impact at this time when peace is required to quell the collective and individual fears…and bring more happiness.

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