#Mindfulness..My Personal Journey and not a “Dreadlock” in sight!

I have always been one of life’s worriers, many times worrying when I didn’t have anything to worry about. My head would be constantly filled with movie reels playing out scenes from disaster movies mixed with what shopping do we need, have I got time to do the hoovering before I collect the children from school and what shall we have for dinner!

I now look back and realise that I have lived a life in a constant rush like a hamster on a wheel, never taking time to enjoy all the good bits and allowing my head to focus a lot on the bad bits…divorce, death etc…lots of life events that we all sadly have to go through that some of us manage better than others.

My life changed for me four years ago when I was diagnosed with a bowel disease. It came completely out of the blue, just when life was picking up “wham” I was faced with an illness that wouldn’t ever go away, one that would change my day to day life forever and not only effect me but my family as well.

I have never been an “alternative” sort of person. Brought up in a generation where you went to the doctor, excepted whatever they told you, walked away with a prescription that may or may not work and that was it.

At one point I felt so low I decided to visit the local GP surgery.We had just moved house, which hadn’t helped, as it meant going to see a GP that I had never seen before. I felt so miserable it was my only hope…or so I thought!

Looking back I should really be grateful now for the response I got from the GP as I would never have considered another approach to managing my problems. I duly went in sat down and burst into tears. I explained why I was there, he grunted a few words without even looking at me, then asked me some questions from a computer about how I was feeling mentally and did I want to kill myself?

To be honest I had never thought about killing myself I just wanted some help in accepting my fate, maybe a few warm words of support but all I got was “Well the computer tells me you are suffering from severe anxiety and depression, here, take this prescription these tablets may or may not help you and oh by the way, don’t bother to make another appointment to see me I am retiring next week”..Goodbye…

I climbed back into the car and sobbed…I often wonder if I had been really thinking horrible thoughts would this persons lack of any sort of empathy for me have pushed me over the edge..luckily it didn’t, but it did make me realise that however bad I was feeling it was up to me to search out some help for myself, and yes, maybe it was an act of defiance but I never took the anti-depressants I was given!

I may have been born into the 1960’s but the “Hippy” era of “Love & Peace” and” Knit your own yoghurt” never entered my world. The nearest I got to being a bit “Alternative” was an afghan coat and a ban the bomb badge, and, much to my parents dismay a passion for walking around barefoot and a love of rock bands…I was so “Rock & Roll”

Meditation was not a word I really knew anything about other than there always seemed to be a group of “Harry Krishna” wandering around town in the most amazing pink coloured outfits and funny haircuts chanting “Harry Krishna” and banging a drum. I guess back in the day they were a strange thing to see where you just walked past and never questioned who or what they were all about.

Mindfulness has been a buzz word for the past few years with newspaper articles and news reports praising it’s effectiveness for many health problems and as a mental therapy. I read various articles about it and still didn’t really know what it was all about. It all sounded too good to be true to me and a bit weird and alternative and “New Age” and I could never imagine how anything like that could help me and my problems.

Three weeks went by after my horrible trip to the doctors and I swore then I would never go back there and as childish as it seems now I wished nothing but a miserable retirement to old Grumpy Guts…(not proud of myself)

I knew that my health and wellbeing was in my hands only when I decided to “Google” Mindfulness in Taunton area. I was desperate to take back some control of my life so contacted Karen at Mindfulness UK about a course they were advertising called Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction.

I must admit I was a bit horrified when I saw it was eight weeks!!! Eight weeks, I only needed one session to get an idea of what it was all about surely? How wrong I was.

The Friday arrived and I parked the car feeling real trepidation. Wondering if by this time next week I would have to have dreadlocks and flip flops to be part of the Mindfulness “Scene”. My normal clothes would I am sure seem really out of place.

I rang the bell and walked in…I breathed a big sigh of relief and soon realised that all my worries about my appearance had been unfounded and that actually everyone there was just like me!

We were a small group and all sat there very nervous but it soon became clear that we were all there for many different reasons and had all read a little about Mindfulness but no-one knew exactly how it could help them.

After the first session I was hooked. To sit and be still with my frantic mind and to actual enjoy the moment and time peacefully was life changing. I never realised that something as simple as taking time, enjoying the present moment, could carry you away into another place where nothing else matters be it pain or anxiety or worry…

Mindfulness is a practice. It is something that you have to nurture to help it grow. I soon realised why the course was eight weeks and couldn’t wait for each week to arrive where we learn’t new techniques and reasoning why and how Mindfulness can help and how it is a wonderful tool to have to hand and how it empowers you to take control of your life and to enjoy it.

I have been practicing Mindfulness  for about four years and I can honestly say hand on heart it has changed my life. The cd’s given on the course are downloaded to my phone and wherever I am I can sitl quietly, shut the world out and listen in.

There have been many studies on how mindfulness effects the brain and how it trains you to think differently. I am no scientist, I just know it works and could never imagine my life without it now.

So four years down the line and not a dreadlock in sight! I hate knitting so knitting my own yogurt was never going to happen. I still of course have my health problems but with the help of my friend “Mindfulness” we manage things really well.

I would always advocate you to start your mindfulness journey with people that you can trust. People who have vast experience at teaching this amazing practice and can guide you on your journey with knowledge, leadership, compassion and sensitivity and Karen and the team at Mindfulness UK have it by the bucket load….something a book alone can never give you!