tel: 01484 866 747 / 07984 115 927 email:
Absolute Healing Blog

Focussed Mindfulness and the Water-Lily

Posted in philosophy on 29/06/2014

Focussed Mindfulness and the Water-Lily

Focussed mindfulness and the water-lily

This is a model introduced to me my Kevin Billet (Bays and Billet, Consciousness the New Currency 2009) and it is very useful in explaining what we are aiming for with the Focussed Mindfulness processes.

Imagine a pond covered by the deep green and glossy leaves of the water-lily, their flatness punctuated only by occasional coronets of joyous, bright yellow, pristine flowers. Under the almost complete, waterproof covering is hidden the clear, still, life-giving water and also the lily stems, stretching all the way down to the bottom of the pond where the roots extend even more deeply down into the sludgy, anaerobic, black/brown mud beneath.

Now imagine that this mud represents our dark and stinky deeply unconscious mind, our murky, terrifying and shameful depths which we prefer to forget about, if we even acknowledge that they exist at all. This is our no-go zone and in it are the parts of our human-ness we least want to own: Our grief, our anger, our madness, our depravity, perversity, terror, ugliness, jealousy and hate; and the rest. We employ an amazing array of ingenious strategies that save us from experiencing our ‘dark side’, so it often only emerges in our nightmares.

The stalks of the lily hold the pristine and glossy leaves and flowers as far away from the sludge as possible. These stalks represent the strategies we employ that save us from acknowledging our unacceptable aspects: our beliefs about right and wrong, what we are comfortable with and what we deem acceptable in ourselves and others, our rigidity of thinking, our vows and our judgements. They also include our understanding of who we are: how we must present ourselves to the world and what we must keep in control in order to be safe, successful and loved.

The stalks are surrounded by clear, still, supporting water where all is accepted and connected: flower, leaf, stem, root and sludge. This represents our peaceful consciousness which is our natural trusting, loving state.

Resting on top of the water are the lily pads which are so waterproof and flat that they offer an almost complete covering, masking all that is beneath and each leaf, although individual, fitting in nearly perfectly with its neighbours. The pads represent our personality: How we present ourselves to the world based on our avoidance strategies. Our personality may generous, expressing a giving and caring person based on our strategy of doing everything possible to ensure that we are loved and thus protecting ourselves from our no-go fear of being alone and unloved. Or we may have an aggressive and defensive personality borne of the no-go fear of being vulnerable and open to attack, pain and torture and a strategy of being strong and vigilant to keep ourselves safe. Where our no-go fear is one of mental disintegration and insanity our strategy may be to have a clear structure and be well informed so that we can maintain control and our expression in the world may be one of intellectual superiority and aloofness.

Even at the surface our expression in largely unconscious and automatic. The only part of ourselves that is conscious and deliberate is that represented by the flower, held proudly aloft and displaying a beautiful, pure and sweetly smelling presence to the world: So far from the murk beneath and barely connected to the pond at all.

The truth is that we are all of the lily plant and all of the pond that supports it and it is only by being conscious of this that we can be truly mindful and accepting of the whole of ourselves and, in turn, mindful and accepting of every aspect of humanity: The murky as well as the beautiful, that we can be fully present and healed. So long as we are denying and disowning our ‘sludge’ we will need our strategies and while these are in place we cannot be fully open to the present moment, alert and at peace and free to respond and live with integrity, guided by love rather than fear.

While we live in fear and denial of our, and humanity’s, murky depths we are at best blocking off a part of ourselves and being incompletely conscious and at worst we are in a constant state of vigilance lest we should encounter, and be destroyed by, our worst fears.

The truth is that these fears are in fact paper tigers. They are narratives, myths and figments of our imagination and the more we avoid them and run from them the more they threaten us and keep us from peace. This running is part of our culture in the West so it is challenging for us to accept this truth. But if we do stop running and for a moment turn towards our deepest terror, the substance of our no-go zone, we find that it is not actually real and that we have nothing at all to fear from it. Only then can we know peace. And once we take our awareness to the deep and murky depths and experience what it is to be fully human – the dark and the light, the beauty and the sludge, the fear and the joy – we know what it is to be fully alive. And only then can we fully love ourselves and others, knowing that within them is the same sludge as within ourselves and all that keeps us apart is our fear.

The focussed mindfulness techniques support us to investigate our paper tigers, they take us in to our sludge and show us that we have nothing to fear. Each time we do this we are effectively pulling out an entire lily plant and leaving a little more pure water.

There are several techniques which help us achieve this freeing of ourselves from fear and torment. We need several because we need to use different approaches depending on the strategies that we have in place to protect us from our no-go zone. Some of us use our intellect to keep control and defend us from experiencing our fear, where this is the case it is often a process called Questioning Judgements, based on Byron Katie’s work that will allow us to experience the freedom we can live in when we are free of our protective beliefs. Some of us experience strong emotions when we explore ourselves deeply and we believe that it is not safe to plunge deeper as they will destroy us. Here we can employ the Pain Release Process to discharge the emotions and leave us free. In some cases it may be useful to go back to a time when we put our strategies in place and, through the Wounded Child process, gain a gestalt realisation that we no longer need them.

There are several more tools which ensures that there is an approach that will meet any strategy in ourselves, our peers or our clients. These include the children’s meditation, the empty chair, image work, the heart to heart and the campfire so really there is nobody who cannot gain an experience of peace consciousness, a less weedy pond, through this work.

If you would like to experience any of these techniques for yourself then please arrange a session with an accredited practitioner, come to a workshop or sign up for the foundation programme. Go to the website to find more information. Do it today, who wouldn’t want to be happier, freer and more confident in themselves and in life itself!