When I started my MBSR Programme with Donna Curtin in January 2016 I never thought I would be able to sit longer than 5 minutes without doing something. I was always doing something! And even when I was sitting still my mind was always someplace else. If I wasn't thinking about a concept for a new logo or an ad campaign I was thinking about what needed to be done at home, or where the kids needed to be next or what I'd pick up for my friend for her birthday...there was always something on my mind besides just sitting still and allowing myself to breathe.
So I honestly thought that meditation was something I would never be able to do. I thought meditation involved sitting for hours in a dark room or something you only did on a retreat. I, like most people had so many preconceived ideas about it that I just thought it was something that wasn't for me. I never just sat there...that was completely alien to me so I remember the first time that Donna asked us to try it on our own at home I struggled. I can remember hearing the ringing in my ear from my Tinnitus louder than normal and getting very irritated with the whole experience. I couldn't wait for the bell to ring to tell me it was over to say "Yea, I did it and it did , I tried it, box ticked".
Acceptance is Key
While Donna constantly reminded us that this wasn't a test, it wasn't something we HAD to do, like homework. It was something she asked us to try in a non-judgmental way, I still struggled with feeling I had to do it as I wanted to prove to myself I could do which is the very reason why I wasn't enjoying it. I was forcing myself to like it instead of just letting go and seeing what happened. I can remember Donna asking us how we got on the following week and when I told her my experience she asked "what if you welcomed the tinnitus? What if you allowed the ringing in your ear to just be there" and I remember thinking "seriously? The very noise that drives me crazy?!!?...Welcome it?" I honestly couldn't imagine doing such a thing. But after a few weeks of taking what Donna had said on board I slowly started to realise that what she said made complete sense. What if I just accepted the tinnitus? Allowed it to just be there, become part of me like my rods were part of my back? That's when it all started to change.
From that moment on meditation became easier, it became something that I even was starting to enjoy. It felt good to just sit or lie there and listen to Donna's voice guiding me through my breath. Actually feeling myself breathe and realising that it was perfectly okay to just sit and be without my mind running away with the next thing I had to do or pondering over the last thing I did. I found for me that doing a 10 minute meditation was something that I was more likely to stick as it was something that I thought i could fit into my life no matter how busy I was.
After a few months I really started to notice a change in myself. Meditation combined with all the things I was taught over the 8 weeks on the MBSR Programme made me see things more clearly. It helped me make decisions easier and not react to situations like I would have done in the past. I felt calmer. And what's even more amazing is my family noticed a difference.
Finding My Headspace
Like anything in life we try and want to keep up, routine is key so I decided to set my meditation space at my desk at the same time every morning as I knew that this is a place that I could sit uninterrupted (once switched my phone on aeroplane mode). This place worked for me and sets me up for the day ahead. I also decided to download the HEADSPACE App a few months ago as it gives me a daily reminder on my phone at the same time every day to let me know when it's time to meditate. I have also set a place up at home - just a chair in my bedroom - it doesn't have to be a place that has Buddah statues, incense and candles lighting everwhere (alothough I have to say that would be lovely!) but just a space that you feel comfortable in that you know where you won't be disturbed. When you think about it you wouldn't go to the gym without your runners so to meditate the surroundings have to be right.
Just 10 Minutes A Day
Now, do I meditate every single day? I wish! Bust like any working mum will understand some days finding 10 minutes feels impossible but when you think about it 10 minutes is such a short time to allocate for yourself in 24 hours but there still those days when I don't manage to find those 10 minutes. But that's okay. Once again, it's like anything in life, there are going to be days for one reason or another you can't find the time - but what I have discovered is that the days that I don't I feel different. I don't have the clarity or calmness in my mind that I have on the days that I do.
I have found the HEADSPACE App really works for me as it is very easy to use and Andy Whitcombe's voice is extremely relaxing and pleasant and I have now found myself saying "Thanks Andy!" at the end of each session. Like I got to know so many people on my journey so far, really lovely people who all have different stories but are on the one journey to better their own minds through mindful living and meditation, I feel Donna and Andy are just two more people who are helping me along the way.