The contemporary world seems to move at subsonic speeds and it can be nearly impossible to catalog and diagram the source of your own issues whilst juggling so many other obligations. By attempting to understand and reconnect with ourselves on a higher level through biopsychospiritual development, we are then able to offer more authentic versions of ourselves to the world at large.
Author Darren Cockburn’s debut title Being Present: Cultivate a Peaceful Mind through Spiritual Practice is a practical guide to creating and implementing a regimen for those who may have little experience with breath-work, mindfulness, and/or wellness routines.
With so many harmful pollutants impacting the air, food, water, and spirit, his book comes at a time where most of could benefit from a reevaluation of our mental and physical habits.
Darren gives us the rundown on the book, his development, and his thoughts on the importance of being present.
Prox: Let’s start by learning a bit more about yourself. Where are you from and how did you initially become interested in spirituality?
Darren: I’m from Bournemouth, which is a town on the south coast of England. My interest in spirituality was spawned from meditation practice. I started meditation to help with anxiety – I wanted a more peaceful mind. Very soon after starting, I experienced a higher state of consciousness that was very different to my form-based experience.
For the first time I could remember, my mind was completely still and I was connected to a divine presence. It was only for a few seconds and enough to set the wheel turning and ignite my interest.
Prox: How did investing time into understanding and practicing what you’ve learned from these teachings alter your life, values, and motivations?
Darren: I’m definitely much kinder and causing less harm in my communication and actions these days. My relationships with others have improved significantly. Life’s more harmonious. My mind is far quieter and more spacious. I feel more awake and conscious. I’ve also got very good at being able to sit with emotional pain without getting lost in it or distracting myself with addictions. Most of the time, I’m aware of a stillness or Presence. It’s always available to me. I go about my daily activities and there it is – a backdrop, like light or silence. It’s present whilst I write these words. It’s difficult to explain!
Prox: Talk to us about your book Being Present. What compelled you to write this and what did you learn about yourself throughout the entire process?
Darren: I believe that it was the Presence I mention that guided me to write Being Present. I certainly wasn’t planning to write it. It was a calling I had in meditation followed by a palm reader telling me I was going to write a book. Those two things happened the same day, which was enough for me to start writing it. Nine months later, Being Present was created.
One of the main things I learned about myself is that I was able to allow the Presence I mentioned to use me to create things.
Prox: It seems like contemporary western culture is deeply rooted in taking action and developing a forward-thinking “go get-em” mentality. How would you convey the importance of being present and surrendering to someone who subscribes to a philosophy of action?
Darren: We all need to do stuff. Even if it’s simply responding to the needs of the body. The main thing is to stay mindful and present whilst doing. And if you can, to allow the spiritual dimension to flow into what you do.
I’m in the process of finishing my second book “Living a Life of Harmony – Seven Guidelines for Cultivating Peace and Kindness”. One of the seven guidelines is “Do only what needs to be done”. I encourage people to be very receptive; to do only what’s needed. When we do what’s not needed it causes ourselves and others problems. It’s quite a big subject so I dedicate a full chapter to it.
Prox: Why does relieving (or restructuring) ourselves of superfluous possessions and tenets help us understand things about ourselves and the world that we may have missed previously? Is this truly possible or practical in a culture that tells us we should want excess?
Darren: Having less creates space. Physical space and psychological space. Most people find it easier to stay present and connect with the spiritual dimension through space. The same can be said for silence.
Generally speaking, having less makes it easier to be spiritual. It’s a challenge though! Especially given the culture we live within. However, with practice, it’s absolutely possible to keep things simple and have just what you need. I know lots of people that do this successfully.
The key thing here, is to remember it’s a practice. It’s easier for people to take things in bite-sized chunks. Start with a small area of your life / environment first and then work out from there. This relates to another one of the seven guidelines I write about, which is “Obtain and retain only what you need.”
Prox: The world seems to move so fast these days. How can the stillness associated meditation and breath work help to alleviate the anxieties associated with the hustle and bustle of the modern world?
Darren: Creating a planned meditation practice, even if it’s just for five minutes each day, will create an opportunity for stillness. It’s spiritually essential for most of us to find some way of finding stillness and silence on a daily basis.
We can also find ways of integrating meditation more informally into our day-to-day activities like when we’re standing in a queue or listening to somebody. Bringing awareness to the breath is a fantastic way of becoming present as it’s connecting you to something ‘real’, which is much better for you than being lost in your thoughts.
It’s empowering to know that you can find stillness in chaotic environments. The more evolved you become the easier it’ll be for you to do this. You can be sat in an environment with people rushing around, shouting, stressed, and if you’re aware enough, you’ll be able to find the stillness in-between and around all of that. I’ll sometimes create a practice out of it, if I’m in an environment that’s noisy and chaotic. I’ll find the stillness and stay connected to it for a while. I did it today in a shopping mall.
Prox: Why do you think slowing down is so overlooked as a potential cure for some of our issues?
Darren: This relates to the point you made earlier about the culture we live in. Many people are encouraged to have more and do more. And their reaction to this is often to accept the challenge by speeding up. It happens a lot in relation to people’s jobs and social expectations.
Doing things quickly is fine so long as you are also present in the process. There’s always a tipping point and when you go over a certain speed, you end up losing consciousness. You get lost in two ways. You get lost in your attachment to the outcome (future based) and you lose touch with the means of getting there (the present moment). You can only access the spiritual dimension through the present moment. The present moment is also the only place you will find peace and joy.
For many people, especially those who make mistakes and act unskillfully through rushing, doing less and slowing down is a beneficial practice.
Prox: Please tell us something about yourself that influences your work that we may not know about.
Darren: My ego influences my work. Being honest with you, there’s a part of my ego that desires attention and recognition of my knowledge and achievements. It’s helpful in a way, as it motivates me to do things that end up being helpful for folk. I do have to keep an eye on it though – especially during the doing - I watch it as best I can. Most of the time I’m able to put the ego to one side and ensure that whatever I’m communicating or creating is pure and truthful. I know this is certainly the case for my books as I feel very present as I’m writing and editing them.
Prox: Are there any artists, books, music, or movies/shows you’d like to recommend?
Darren: Everybody’s needs are different. I like to get to know somebody before making any suggestions in areas like these. That’s why I enjoy working with people on a 121 basis or in groups. There’s information on this at my web site: www.darrencockburn.com .
Prox: Would you like to share some information on any upcoming event, projects, and releases you have on the horizon?
Darren: My first book “Being Present – Cultivating a peaceful mind through spiritual practice” is available now from Amazon and retailers across the globe. The second book I mentioned “Living a Life of Harmony – Seven Guidelines for Cultivating Peace & Kindness” is also available on pre-order – it will be released May 2019.
If people have enjoyed reading the answers to your questions Prox, I’d encourage them to connect with me via:
My site: www.darrencockburn.com
Prox: Final Thoughts?
Darren: I’m sorry, ironically, my mind has gone completely blank. There’s just space there right now. Best wishes to you ☺
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