I’ve just been presented with an opportunity to handle a stressful situation with greater mindfulness. This is a type of situation that I almost always deal with badly. I mean, on a scale of 1 to 10, I’d say my handling skill in this kind of situation is close to zero.
This time, instead of rushing in like the proverbial bull in the china shop, I decided to adopt a more mindful approach, opened my journaling program and started typing about it instead. Smoke was soon flying from my computer keys!
When the smoke cleared, however, I saw that what was going on was my Fight or Flight Mechanism had been activated big-time. I’m a fight, rather than a flight person and normally, I’d be confrontational. I then saw that I lined up, in my journal, what I perceived to be rational and justifiable reasons to draw an arrow into my bow!
Observing the situation – mindfully – however, I realised what I was really doing was reacting to an emergency, a disaster, that hadn’t happened. I then did a little technique on myself that I adopted to help with my stage fright last December, which was to observe and acknowledge all my physical symptoms. I experienced today exactly the same symptoms as I suffer with stage fright.
I listed the symptoms and where they were happening in my body. I decided to check each in terms of the chakras. I’m not saying I believe in chakras, and I’m not saying anybody else should. I’ve read about the chakras and even did a chakra-healing exercise once and I saw today’s event as an opportunity to experiment further. I saw at once a relationship between one particular symptom and one of the chakras. I saw the source of the symptom and I felt calmer immediately. It was just like that, like snapping a finger.
I’m not saying I will never suffer stage fright in its various guises, ever again, but I will be able to get a better grip. Actually, I already had a better grip. I achieved this last December when I took positive steps to handle my stage fright – I was singing solo for a second time. I could easily have walked out on the concert. I didn’t and in confronting my fear, I proved that engaging in artistic activity isn’t about having a nice pastime, it’s about using the power of creative energy to heal and to grow in character and spirit.
Art isn’t about the product, it’s about the practice – the journey towards the product.
Though it’s also good if you don’t sing out of tune!
The first image here is a picture I took the other day on a trip up to London. I had to go to South Kensington and it was an opportunity to visit one of my favourite museums, the V&A. I always go to museums with a goal in mind (as well as tea and cake in the restaurant). This time I was on the hunt for images of arrows, fields and grids to inspire my current art project Below the Line.
The arrows in the first picture are actually spoons. Their handles are forked – they end in what look like arrow flights, but they aren’t weapons. You expect, looking along the handles, to find something threatening injury, pain and death at the dangerous end. Instead, you are surprised by bowls. Bowls offer sustenance and nourishment. If empty, they ask for it. Whether offering or asking, bowls are about non-threatening human engagement, not war.
The second is a beautiful bowl of irridescent purple-blue glass dating back to Roman times.
So I put my arrow back in its quiver. This morning, I didn’t kill anybody and nobody killed me.
Mindfulness also seems to be a form of prayer. In my case, smoking prayer! And look how quickly my smoking prayer was answered.