Some people have asked me why I decided to quit my I.T. job and become a mindfulness practitioner. There have been many quizzical looks and eyebrows raised at my choices in life, as if I’m walking a path hidden to most, or just more threatening in some way. I have lost friends and gained new ones, all through the practice of mindfulness. It certainly at times feels like a unique path (though of course it isn’t) that many people shy away from. To have the security of that job, to make sure one’s needs are met, is a perfectly understandable and common trait in our current society.
There is an element of fear in people, that one can’t walk a certain way, or follow a heart’s whim, due to our financial economics. It rules our world, this head-space, this need to be secure, stable – our future to be planned out. It’s like we create a risk assessment for our lives, just wanting that security to live on forever. So, it can be alien and disturbing for people to look at someone like me, who has created a ‘security threat’ in not having a full-time job, in trying to follow one’s passion, and be more free.
There’s also the argument that what I’m doing is ‘selfish’, in that by practicing mindfulness, that might be OK for me, to sit on a cushion and do nothing. How lazy is that, some say! You need to work. Earn a living. You need to contribute. What the heck are you doing, just sitting there, practising your ‘being’, when there’s so much to DO?
Having been trapped in the endless stream of work, the business as usual model that – deep down – I knew wasn’t helping the planet; shredding all of the Earth’s resources so I could maintain my own interest in buying the latest gadget, or have that holiday in the sun; it actually moved me to become more mindful, to start practising the art of being. In so doing, I’m noticing what I do, why I do it, and whether I do it out of conscious choice or just old sub-conscious desire patterns that are built on ‘feeling safe’.
Yes, it’s a challenging path. I’ve chosen to earn less money, to buy less, to be more with less. It’s creating more resilience in me. It’s making me see the ‘desire’ and not give in to it. I can be happy without those cravings. I can be happy right here, right now, if I choose to be.
This then, this change in me, is something that I believe is building my resilience for whatever comes next. Yet here’s the thing. It’s also building my own compassion for everyone else, the plight people are in, the need for security, the need for safety. As a mindfulness practitioner, my need for security is lessened because I’m more and more living in the moment, where I can do something, or not. This way of living doesn’t look to the future for stability, it enjoys the present which then carves a new, more conscious future without me thinking about it. Because I’m living with less fear of the future, I’m more able to look at other people’s lives, and offer kindness and support wherever possible, which, at the heart of mindful practice, lies humanity’s true form: a being of loving-kindness. Mindfulness, in essence then, is selflessness, and being aware of what we do to ourselves, our friends and our planet.
I believe that if we all can harness the capacity for mindfulness in our own lives, we will begin to make the right choices that will save our world. We will notice, decide what’s not important, and ease our own unhappiness. This in turn will lead to happier relationships with everything.
So, people wonder why I left my job(s) in an I.T. background. This then, is my answer. I just want the world to be happy; and I’m starting with myself.