How mindfulness shifted my mind: the 14th of March

The past twenty years, my teenage and early adult years have been extremely difficult for me and my family since my Dad tragically passed away from cancer in 1999. He was only 47 years old. Over those years, I managed somehow. I got by. Additional struggles, to do with school and work arrived. Being constantly judged, being told that you are good but not good enough is not helpful when you are trying to make sense of living. But I managed.

I moved to another country, started from scratch and got two degrees. Got jobs. Made friends. I was not happy. I thought that life will never be as good.

Having left my previous job as I realized that it was not for me I was, emotionally, in a difficult place. This time, the Universe really did me a massive favour. I was referred by my GP to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and attended full eight sessions. Then, as a long term patient of Centre for Integrative care, I was referred to Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy course. Even though to attend the course I had to travel for over two hours each week, I decided that it would be worth it. I have been doing some yoga since a very young age and practicing regularly for the past 12 years. I have also been doing some meditation. But my ‘here and there’ ad hoc approach to yoga and meditation was not enough to shift my mindset. The requirement of this course was to, where possible, meditate daily for twelve weeks. And I did that. This was crucial to success.

Each week, we practiced a new form of meditation. We were also required to keep a diary and describe what worked for us and what did not. I really enjoyed giving my mind this special time every day. I learned how to eat mindfully when we did the Raisin exercise. I love good food but I have always been guilty of eating too fast. Additionally, when I was a teenager, after I lost my Dad I also often engaged in comfort eating, which resulted in eating humongous portions. And now, I definitely appreciate raisins more than I used to!

I also learned how to give my body this special time, via practising The Body Scan. After each session of the Body Scan, I felt amazing. I really felt how the negative energy I held in my body disappeared as I breathed from the top of my head, all the way through my body and through my toes.

The course involved a silent session which for us took place on the 13 March. During the session, we had to remain silent during the preparation for the session, which involved setting our space for relaxation. We also had to remain silent during the mindful walking in the garden and during the tea break. Normally, during the tea break, we shared our experiences from the morning session. I believe that this silent session was the exact moment that prepared me for what happened the next day and truly shifted my mind.

The next day, on the 14th of March, I was working from home ( I already had a new job by this point). The first news I heard that day was that Stephen Hawking died. Not long after my mum came round and told me that my Grandad passed away. I did not cry. I could not cry. I did not want to cry either. I did not cry even when I went to his funeral a few days later. I was ready to have a panic attack during the funeral. My Grandad’s grave is located right next to my Dad’s grave, so I thought this will be it, all the memories from my Dad’s funeral will come back. However, the exact opposite happened. I remained completely calm during the ceremony and after and I did not cry. Of course, I was sad that Grandad passed away, that he is no longer here. But mindfulness taught me to accept life, to take it as it comes.

Today is the 14 March again and the circle of life continues to spin around as I am awaiting the arrival of my baby. While waiting, I painted the below artwork.

Abstract artwork

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