I have been tootling along these past few years, adapting to my new world with a disability. Teaching mindfulness to those with pain, depression and anxiety and sharing my experiences has enriched my life dramatically.
Life was constant for the first few months of this year, with no dramatic flareups. I relaxed into living without the flux a chronic health condition can bring. Then the lesson appears again ‘the only thing you can rely on in life is change’ and, for the last 3 weeks I have experienced (note not suffered) a decrease in my already limited mobility and a rise in my daily pain levels.
Today, I could not stand comfortably long enough to make a cup of tea. Now in the past, this would have led to many tears, my critical self to jump in with negative comments ‘you are never going to get better,’ ‘you are worthless, pointless (insert any other derogatory label here)’. My emotional pain would have exacerbated my physical pain, and the more physical pain I felt the more emotionally distressed I would have become.
So, what’s different now from when I first started my mindfulness practice?
The automatic fear reaction instantly kicked in. I would love to say it doesn’t, that after years of established practice fear is completely, and permanently, eradicated, but I wouldn’t be authentic if I claimed that for myself. (I don’t compare my experience of mindfulness to anyone else’s, we are all very different with different circumstances and challenges).
What I am able to claim however, is that I recognised the fear straight away and knew what steps I needed to put in place to ensure I stay fully present and not let automatic patterns or ruminative thinking take control. I am no longer defined by my pain. I am fully (re) connected to my consciousness, my true self, that is aware of the pain, and I am able to step back and observe non-judgementally.
The difference I am most excited about however, and wanted to share today, is the compassion I feel towards myself. Self-love is something I have never had in abundance anyway, and, which virtually disappeared as my health declined. I feel a kindness towards myself and my circumstances I could never have dreamt possible a few years ago.
I did manage to take my children swimming today. It is important to me that I spend quality time with them during the school holidays. I watched their faces, full of joy in the water, and I was totally engaged in the present moment. Not letting my fears and anxieties cloud the Now. I have had a lovely afternoon and despite everything, feel a contentedness with my life. I will have lots to put in my Gratitude Journal tonight.