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Mindfulness, Managing Fear, and the Importance of Finding Purpose

Purpose has been a strong theme over the last couple of weeks. As most of you know, I’m still in the process of managing the fears that for so long kept me isolated and withdrawn from the simple things like socialising to things like performing and touring. Whilst I have come such a long way, there are still fearful patterns that I’m mindfully unwiring.

I’ve found mindfulness is essential when dealing with anxiety. It gives me the clarity and tools to navigate through intense emotion. The goal isn’t to eliminate fear, but rather to allow it to come and go in a way that doesn’t take me with it. Whilst such tools and techniques help, it still requires will-power to decide to face fear. The more I run, the bigger and darker it gets. So the decision to notice it, accept it and let it run it’s course requires courage. When I’m tired, I have to dig in a little deeper to find it. This is where purpose comes in.

When I say “purpose”, I’m not talking about world peace or making a change to society. Though they are valid, a purpose can be something tiny that means a lot to you. For me, a challenge is so much harder to overcome without purpose. Take, for example, a performance that I’m booked for. It’ll be my first time on the road in almost four years. The withdrawal from performance has been beneficial for clearing my head and building back up my body, but it’s also turned it into a mountain that I now need to climb. At least that’s the perception.

Initially, when looking at this weekend away, my mind went on a threat-scanning rampage. It collated the most challenging experiences I’ve ever had and played the footage through it’s bullshit crystal ball. Mindfulness allows me to see what’s bullshit, and what’s a genuine concern. Still, I know that I’m going to be out of my comfort zone and there’s a good chance that fear will be present. In my head I’m thinking, “all this just for a couple of casual sets?”. The will-power was low which left the fears running my body. I took another moment to widen the scope his is where the real purpose kicked in. It’s not about this particular gig. The purpose is to get comfortable touring again. The purpose is to feel the freedoms of travel and playing. I want to perform the songs that I write to the world. Touring breeds incredible resilience and a calmness that is completely independent of your surroundings. And to pick a destination, connect with the locals and lose yourself in bliss on stage is one of the most incredible things. I want that back.

So, when I reminded myself of the real purpose, all of a sudden the fears were completely manageable if not irrelevant.  They say that our minds naturally make decisions based on what will give us the most pleasure. This is why we can often make decisions that aren’t for the best in the long run. It gives us the most pleasure at the time. For me, to cancel the gigs would mean that I wouldn’t have to face fear, and I can go back to feeling calm and settled. But of course, that’ll bite me in the arse down the track.

The process of growth involves stress. In other words, one can’t grow inside a comfort zone. Reminding myself of this is the way that I can trump the most immediate pleasure – giving it something it can’t refuse.  It’s amazing the level of pain we’ll endure when we’re anchored to a passionate purpose.

Link: Geoff Thompson “No Growth in Comfort”


For those who are new to the site, hit up my introduction post and the about tab to understand what inspired this website as well as what’s to come. 

9 Comments

  1. Andrew Tierney09/01/2017

    How often do you keep yourself calm?

    Reply
    1. Nathan Cavaleri10/01/2017

      If you mean, how often do I have to go through a process to calm myself down? Now it’s probably once per week on average. If I’m triggered. But, as far as prevention, every day. Every day I have anchor points where I might meditate, exercise or pause to let the dust settle or observe my thoughts so I can attend to them. Keeps me ahead of the wave.

      Reply
  2. Malcolm Gully09/01/2017

    Yep no growth in comfort, too comfortable it’s time to look around. I’m still doing that’s Tafe course and bricking it! I’ll just jump in and find out. I did that joining the army, jump in find out. Over time events caught up and slowed the brain but yep it boiled down to crappy techniques as coping strategies along the way. I’ve learned some newer ones and the up coming music course will test those. But I’ll grow! I’m not shy to keep learning….Ta daa and with a new magic wand….Anything is possible. Quite agree hear hear.
    Then I’ll feel comfortable again….And look for the next challenge ?

    Reply
    1. Nathan Cavaleri10/01/2017

      What keeps me inspired is remembering what I’ve done in the past that has felt uncomfortable that became comfortable…. You got those memories? Could even be little. As kids, we were uncomfortable and comfortable all the time.

      Reply
      1. Malcolm Gully12/01/2017

        Sure do have those memories , at happy 56 I’m able to shed so much but stuff that made me uncomfortable was really random. Meeting people or a new game a bit scary, but alone in the bush my senses heightened and imagination running I was at home and calm. Years later in military situations that went into a calm, but felt the same as a kid at play? I was asked at random at age7 to ride a circus horse at a circus! In an act! I thought yep I can do that. But heights still bug me. But I still keep doing things at height! I agree as you take stock and look back you realise your conquests. I reconnected with a friend on FB, he said I looked at your page and life looks good. I then thought must have a look, and realised yep, its been pretty good. Nothing to fear. Plenty of inspiration. Never did like insane bullies but you have to do special training to neutralize the fear of psychopaths. That’s a normal fear. Otherwise life’s good

        Reply
  3. RitaM09/01/2017

    Congrats on coming so far Nathan. You have a wonderful way of getting inside your head to verbalise those thought processes. I’m enjoying the weekly read via email over a cuppa. Keep up the great work – you put a lot of effort in so I hope it keeps you strong to continue to enjoy what it brings x

    Reply
    1. Nathan Cavaleri10/01/2017

      Thanks Rita!!! The process is kind of cleansing for me. ha! Glad to hear that it translates. xx

      Reply
  4. Sheep14/03/2017

    Stumbled upon your site via Icehouse link. I went to their gig Sun and Monday 4.45am woke with first panic attack in 18mths. I let the mindfulness, decaf, health and other things go for a while so was a wake up call to get back on it. Just had a brief look at your site and great to see you are now a dad since I last saw you were on Hey Hey! Appreciate you sharing your life experience and Anxiety experience and hope you get back on track sooner with your own passion. I will be reading much more from your site. Thanks Nathan ! ps Glad you enjoyed Icehouse ?

    Reply
    1. Nathan Cavaleri14/03/2017

      Thanks so much and I know the feeling too well! Sounds like “adrenal overload” to me. Having said that, the physical body has its sensations or expression of limits but the mind is responsible for branding it and turning it into anxiety. From my personal experience anyway. For ages I thought I was going looney but with time I worked out there are logical reasons for it all. Thanks a bunch for the encouragement and I’m pumped to have another follower! haha….

      Reply

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