An te chuireas, ‘se baineas – He that sows will reap.
This Irish language version of the old proverb is timely reminder of spring and gardening tasks ahead but today for me its all about cultivating positivity and attaining goals. My niece Miah Ni Nualláin is doing great work this week promoting the Irish language with her class mates – beir bua!! so for them – inspired by them – a chance to sow something other than flowers (but a bit of that too)..
sow to reap. It directly expresses the reward of positive action. Sow and you will reap. Do and you will get reward. It is a familiar concept – and we hear it quoted a lot – but do we hear it – it says get reward.
Sow and reap is biblical. It features heavily in the Christian faiths and maybe it has lost some of its power consequently in that context – certainly from my early life in a Christian brothers school it was more along the lines of ‘if you do bad you will get your comeuppance’ – as you sow so you shall reap – reap connoting with the grim reaper coming to get you for liking girls and bunking mass. Instant karma. But it is not that. It is gloriously not that – it is everything positive. It is just what you should be doing right now. While we must weed the negative, so too we must sow the positive – and succession sow too. Instant karma can be good karma.
Mindfulness is brilliant, it retrains the brain to positivity and it is so simple to practice/learn. With it you are sowing seeds of personal growth and psychological stability, you are growing your spirit and will ultimately harvest not just life skills but a life full – we often preoccupy ourselves with ‘life fills’ in lieu of a life full – those fills may be a soap opera you can’t miss, the Sunday crossword, a glass of wine after a long day, a weekend break, the July sales, a bet on the grand national, the ritual of a pedicure or if male the treat of towel shave – whatever the fill – these little diversions from the mundane everyday are what we think of as life rewards and yes it is good to reward ourselves and great to feel good about oneself so keep going with that but for most people these fills are mistaken for a full life – a full life is not accumulated moments – it is the continuation – it is being mindful, present, aware in the continuousness of your living experience. We don’t have to lurch or drag ourselves from one reward to the next, we don’t have to live for the weekend, sow in your heart the promise to live everyday – that does not mean more wine and more treats – to live every day is a much better reward than that. To live every day is to feel the full presence of life to be present in it – mindfulness brings that alive.
a simple Exercise – sowing some positive intent
Gather some wildflower seed into the palm of your hand and take up a comfortable meditation position, imagine all the actions/goals you want to achieve – see each in scenarios; smiling and pushing your grandkids on a swing, in the changing room of an expensive clothes store fitting into a smaller size, doing a selfie on top of the mountain you just climbed etc. Let the seed absorb those wishes, feel/picture a ball of energy in the palm of your hand energize those grains with your intent to bring those wishes to fruition – now go sow it. Get up go outside and sow them – on the wind or into soil. That Wildflower seed may just germinate and not only bring the symbolism a step further via living reminders but also ripple positivity via food for larval butterflies, nectar for bees, beauty to your locality.
Rice Version – you do the same exercise but with uncooked rice grains. With rice it is a wholly metaphorical sowing. It symbolises your intent to manifest a positive harvest. While it will not germinate it has the value of real seed in that what you are actually sowing in the exercise is your positivity. You will harvest from this type of sowing too. Intent is all. Think too of how we throw rice at weddings to wish luck and celebrate the new journey of marriage- rice throwing is a celebration – rice sowing is you celebrating your journey and providing future provisions for the path ahead.
The power of practice
The more you practice mindfulness the more it becomes how you are and what you just do naturally – you build a metaphysical muscle memory but it is not automatic on autopilot, it is precision movement with precise focus – take martial arts for example – it is not a dance, the thousands of hours of practice or refining movement and reflex makes it as exquisite as a dance but learning the steps is only the armature the true art – anticipation, concentration, reaction and response – a mind firing on all cylinders. Be a warrior in your world – that’s not aggression that’s assertion of yourself, that’s practice of your mindful skills. You don’t have to hunt or make the dinner with a sword – it’s about carrying the honour and the vigilance of the warrior into the day – that is also mindful living.
10000 hours is proficiency
The 10000hr rule/theory proposes that an approximation of 1000hrs of practice delivers mastery. Some advocate that anybody even with no innate talent in a particular discipline can complete 10,000 hours of deliberate practice in it and become expert. Others advocate that some talent helps. But all agree that continual dedicated practice over time hones skills and enables virtuosity.
You won’t have to sit following your breath for 10000hrs. It is the cumulative factor of repeat meditations that facilitate breath control and the mindful experience of the breath. But it is better to spend 10minutes meditating than it is to spend 10minutes feeling depressed, anxious, agitated. All those minutes add up, and you become the sum of it. So spend more time on the positive, become an expert in it and just be a very poor amateurs at negativity.
To explore further the power of practice and the theory of 10000hrs rule – read
• Charness, Neil; Feltovich, Paul J.; Hoffman, Robert R.; Ericsson, K. Anders, eds. (2006). The Cambridge Handbook of Expertise and Expert Performance. Cambridge university press
• Gladwell, Malcolm (2008) Outliers: The Story of Success. Little, Brown and Company
• Colvin, Geoff (2010). Talent is Overrated: What Really Separates World-Class Performers from Everybody Else. Portfolio Trade.