It wasn't what I had expected, and at this stage I wasn't overly impressed. In my case I was pretty sure that he was wrong. I had come on this course for professional reasons, as a Clinical Psychologist, hoping to improve my career prospects by adding mindfulness teaching to my repertoire. I had a calm and stable temperament with no history of psychological or emotional problems.
Over the following months, as I practised and studied mindfulness, my awareness started to deepen. I noticed the beginnings of thoughts and feelings that I didn't like and the habits that I used to turn away from them. I noticed that some of my destructive habits did not happen at random, but followed mental events that I found it difficult to be with. I worked with compassion to help me to stay present to some of these experiences. So, as time went on it became apparent that my mindfulness teacher had been right all along. I was a neurotic mess.
One thing about Mindfulness that a lot of my friends couldn't understand is that in a way it made me feel worse. I felt worse in a wonderful way. Since becoming a Mindfulness practitioner I feel more anxious, scared, angry and sad more often than ever before. I also feel more alert, joyful, engaged, loving and alive. I learned to stop suppressing every emotion that was difficult for me to feel and as a result started to feel more of every kind of emotion.
While I didn't believe it when I was told, I can now acknowledge from experience that I am, indeed, a neurotic mess. The other, wonderful thing that I have learned is that so is everybody else. That this kind of mess is nothing other than the human condition. We can embrace it or we can try to push it away but if we push it away there will be a price to pay, perhaps in physical or mental health symptoms, lost opportunities or an inability to connect with some of the most important aspects of our life.
With Mindfulness in my life I have the awareness to make that choice. The choice that I make is to dare to stay present to the way that I feel. To acknowledge that it is not wrong to feel as I do, despite years of early conditioning telling me that it was. Despite sometimes the intensity and sheer unpleasantness of the thought, feelings and sensations that I find difficult to tolerate. My experience is not wrong. Nothing is wrong. I am a neurotic mess and there is no reason on earth that I should be any different.