Mindfulness started for me back in 2009. Work, a thing that is my passion and my job, started to become anything but enjoyable. I acted as a perfectionist and constantly wanted more and more. Nothing was ever enough and I was never good enough. I started acting out my insecurities towards others, insensitive, narcissistic and various other modes of behaviour that allowed my unhappiness to live and breathe and rule me.
There was a light bulb moment. One day I realised I didn't want to be unhappy , I didn't want these shaming thoughts of being uncool, unloved and shit at my job. So I consciously started a dance with these thoughts. This started with noticing:
1. I began to log every time a damaging thought would arise. I would observe it and employ various cognitive techniques taught to me by my therapist to lessen the charge and toxicity of these voices. Noticing gave me immediate removal from a situation. Noticing meant that I consciously and wittingly became the observer. I was no longer IN my thoughts I was OUTSIDE them watching and being interested in them. By doing that I had done 99% of the work. To remove myself from the whirlwind of angry shaming internal voices I could take a step back, breathe and occupy my fully functioning adult. This is in my opinion the greatest step.
2. I began to gently engage with the voices. The important thing was that I learnt not to battle but to show curiosity. One technique that worked in therapy was the chair technique. So talking to that voice, imagining it was me sitting opposite me in a chair. This way of controlled dialogue watched by my therapist allowed me to realise how unpleasant and damaging and unforgiving that voice within me was. I could never WIN. Whatever I did there would be another retort, another insult and another reason to ultimately be a failure as a human being. So I learnt to feel compassion for this part of me that was so angry and scared and hurt. It was a revelation. It deflated all the bitterness and allowed me to see the true sadness that lay within.
3. A technique that worked wonderfully for me and still does is something called 'catch and release'. As I noticed a thought come in I would imagine someone had thrown me a tennis ball and I would throw it away. It took me a long time to move thoughts on because they were so entrenched and seemed like such truths. They aren't however, they are just thoughts. I have millions of thoughts every day and I choose which ones to catch and hold onto or which ones I throw back out there.
What happened with these three steps is that, progressively, I began to become stronger and stronger in my defences against such shaming attacks. With this I became far more compassionate for myself and therefore for others. I began to experience deep gratitude for my job and deep love for the whole experience, with people I worked with through to the audiences who would turn up to my shows. This doesn't mean to say may I add that I live in a state of complete peace and harmony. I live life and I am now not disabled by such crippling thoughts and internal voices that managed to strip all joy and colour from my working life. I stand on stage now and observe my thoughts that still can zoom in "you are going to lose everything because you missed that note" or in a meeting if my album doesn't perform as well as it could a voice will go "you really are the crappiest person who ever existed" and I will notice it and in my own time dependent on my resilience, mood and strength I will move those thoughts on.
I guess in a conclusion to what I have realised in my work life is that there is a me that stands back from all the noise. He had always been there. He watched everything and it took some time to tune into him and meet him. Very much unwittingly I began to practice an area of mindfulness that tuned into the true me who had really been observing the whole time. I like him.... he's cool.
As a side note... how I got to practicing mindfulness and finding peace in my personal life is a whole other story.