My poor dog, Shumba, always gets this gook in his eyes. Most mornings, he blinks his still handsome hello at me through a thick, goopy slime. My vet attributes it to dry tear ducts. Basically, he’s crying snot (my dog — not the vet). Every morning, while I undertake my much-loved coffee ritual, I also clean the gook from his eyes. He knows what’s coming. When he sees me approach with the folded tissue and eye drops in hand he drops to the floor in a dramatic show of surrender like a soldier in combat, but willingly tilting his head to the side so I can clean his eye gook. Of course, once the goop is all gone, he commences bounding around as though he never suffered from any impairment at all.

I also get gook. But my gook comes in the form of little waves of anxiety. Just before I’m about to start a new painting, or step out to teach a yoga class or speak up in a meeting with a viewpoint contrary to everyone else’s, I experience emotional gook. Just like Shumba’s eye slime, mine is a vision murk-eying film that temporarily immobilises my ability to strike, to start, to move confidently forward. My gook affects my intuitive eye — blurring my resounding confidence that I can ‘pull it off’.

Recently, this impairment really got the better of me. I allowed it to drag me way further down than it should have. But on this morning, as the Moka pot bubbled his breakfast tune, me — hunkered down over my visually impaired pup, it dawned on me that everyone gets gook. We all have an Achilles heel — some sort of emotional, psychological or intellectual trapping that can clog our ducts, the smooth flow of energy and execution.

Instead of lamenting the gook, I’ve come to accept that meditation is the equivalent of my tissues and eye drops. When I neglect the practice, the slime builds up and every single task requires surmounting the hurdle, often crashing right into it before I do.

The trick is to accept your allotment of psychological build up and surrender into your particular practice of clearing it out. Maybe for you, that’s the mountains or honest conversations, or running so hard you think your lungs will explode.

No one is infallible. We all have a propensity towards our own brand of gook. In fact, for those who love us, our gook makes us all the more endearing.

But also, only if we play an active part in accepting it graciously and doing the work of clearing it out.