Most people find that there is a 'before mindfulness' and an 'after mindfulness'. Although it can seem almost invisible, an important priority shift occurs when you start giving weight to being present in the world over controlling yourself. You become less concerned about appearances and more interested in the creative power of your own presence.
So, for the first few weeks all my gardening stuff was lying around the exterior of the house looking quite a mess, until I could figure out what to do with it.
This mess would have been a big source of embarrassment and shame for me in the past. I would have made it my priority to get the exterior cleaned up first so that my new neighbours would see how 'together' I was. Instead I spent my time organising inside the house and getting myself comfortable and settled.
I let the mess sit there because I knew it was a work in progress and that would be evident given time.
Mindfulness invites us to be with what is, with kindness and curiosity; to let emotions, thoughts and sensations come and go in a flow; to realise they don't define who we really are and that underneath all the storms of life lies perfect peace. This natural process of life brings us back into balance; no control, no tidying up necessary.
When we pay attention to each present moment we start to experience directly that the true causes of suffering in our lives aren't situations or conditions, the root is always within: in the bad habits of judging ourselves and others, and taking things that are temporary personally.
My garden is now full of flowers and the house is beautiful, inside and out. If I need to make a mess in order to create something beautiful I do. If I need to go through some sadness, shame, over-excitement, anxiety, depression, confusion or anger in order to deepen my peaceful presence in the world and be a more authentic person, I do.
This is not a competition. There is no finish line. We are here to grow.