We always want to hear about people's pathways to mindfulness. Here Poll J writes about her journey:
These days, it seems you can hardly move for reading or seeing stories about mindfulness, often involving minor celebs, which I find a bit irritating. (Which isn’t very mindful I guess, but then mindfulness doesn’t eradicate difficult feelings, it just helps you deal.) But I've been asked to share my journey to mindfulness. So here it is. Anyway ...
I am a woman in my (okI’mgoingtotakeadeepbreathandjustsayit) late fifties. My life’s pretty good, generally. Happy relationship (except when we argue, which we do); two great adult daughters; lots of ups, some very, very major downs; good, challenging job working with people, which I enjoy (except when I don’t); nice house, nice dog; lovely friends; interesting holidays; OK (ish) for money, most of the time. So why, I kept asking myself, had I spent much of my adult life in a state of anxiety?
Well I kind of knew why.
I think we’re all affected by what’s put into our hard drive at an early age and, as the youngest of four, by the time I was the last one left at home my parents – let’s just say they fought. A lot. Loudly. Which isn’t great when you’re seven or eight and trying to feel safe. After the fights there would be long periods, sometimes several months, of silence. Then one of them would leave home for a while, without telling me where they’d gone. (My dad was usually sleeping at his office, but I didn’t know that, and it was scary.)
As an adult, I knew that I was lucky in so many ways, but I also knew that I seemed to worry more than most of my friends. I went for some counselling, and that helped in terms of knowing why I felt as I did, but it didn’t really tell me what I could do about it.
Then my sister was diagnosed with cancer, the outlook wasn’t great, and I went into a tailspin of anxiety. I just didn’t seem able to get rid of that gnawing feeling in the pit of my stomach no matter how hard I tried to apply logic or reason.
So I signed up for one to one mindfulness. why not? Surely it couldn’t do any harm. And it didn’t. In fact I can think of few things that have helped me more.
Those first few months took a lot of time and commitment, and I can see why some people fall off the wagon in the early days. But pretty soon I found that I was coping better and worrying less. Although the anxiety was still there, I was learning what to do with it, somehow. I was finding ways of accepting what was happening, instead of fighting, fighting, fighting my thoughts and difficult feelings. I didn’t like what was going on, not at all, but I was dealing with it, mostly. And people started to notice, so it wasn’t just me.
As I said, mindfulness seems to be flavour of the month these days, and it took a bit of experimentation, some picking and choosing, before I found a way of using it that suited me personally. I was never much of a one for whale music. But mindfulness let's you find your own way, it’s not ‘one size fits all’ and it’s neither prescriptive nor rigid.
I know that for as long as I live there will always be more to learn about it. There’s no time for me at the moment to study huge academic tomes, and although it’s helped to know a little bit about the theory of it, you don’t need to know much for it to work. All I need these days is my 15 minutes a day. Sometimes I only manage 10, and occasionally, very occasionally, I don’t manage any at all. And those are the days I’m likely to struggle.
My lovely sister died four months ago and I’m really sad, but I’m doing OK, and I know that I’m dealing with it far, far better with mindfulness than without.
It has to be worth a try, doesn’t it?
We'd like to invite you to share your pathway to mindfulness with us. If you'd like to accept the invitation please email us via the Contact us page.