To begin, let me introduce myself… I’m Daniel Bradfield, a mindfulness, acting and public speaking teacher based in Manchester. I’m joining forces with Manchester’s Finest at this crucial time where our well-being is most in need of intervention, to provide a series of weekly online drop-in guided meditation sessions.
We begin with The Art of Letting Go…
We’re constantly being told to push away our emotions, ‘suck it up’ or jump on the panic bandwagon. I’ll be teaching you not how to make anxiety or other unpleasant feelings go away, but instead how to learn to live with them, alongside them, in relationship to them. What we need to be reminded of is that these feelings, these emotions, these thoughts are not wrong, and nor are we wrong for having them.
I regularly coach people in not just how to get the most out of their acting and public speaking, but also how to get the most out of their lives. I believe that the only way to lead a fully present and fulfilling life is to develop a sustainable perspective which takes our whole lives and well-being into account, not just our external markers of career “success”.
In life, we suffer not because of what we experience, but because we are constantly in opposition to our experience. Trying to change it. Trying to make pleasant states remain, and unpleasant states go away. By learning to truly be with our experience, fully, unconditionally, non-judgementally we are able to reliably access this quality of presence in our lives, we so often seek, but so rarely find.
Much of western mindfulness training approaches it from a clinical perspective, as a form of symptom relief. Like a therapeutic technique meant to make the ‘bad’ times go away. From my perspective, this is a limited view of the potential of mindfulness. Another term which might perhaps be more useful to consider could be ‘Unconditional Presence’. To learn to be with our experience no matter what it’s content.
This is where mindfulness training is not only helpful, but arguably essential for the modern person. Mindfulness is not just another tool, it is the very foundation of our experiential faculties. In order to learn to be truly present, we must learn to be present with all of our experience, completely, unconditionally and without exception.
The ability to be completely aware of and with experience, without compulsively pursuing the impulse to ‘fix’ experience. In this way, we stop making a problem of experience in the first place. We stop seeing it as a problem to be fixed and instead allow it to do what it was already going to do, whether we wanted it to or not. It is the simple act of letting go of grasping after emptiness. The loosening of our grip over something that we could never really grasp in the first place. It’s the release from a fist to relaxed semi-open palm. This is where true calm, true relaxation and true freedom in our lives comes from.
Follow Daniel Bradford