What a wonderful gift it is to find a more unconditioned way, the way of a child, with the added benefits of almost fifty years knowledge to draw upon…
Can you recall back in the time when you perhaps sat on the sidewalk, or played in the fields or hedgerows, sun on your back, alive to the world around you, not a care in that world?
If you can remember, you might also come to recall the lack of concern and interest in what went on before that moment in the sun while you played, or of what may follow. No worries, you might say!
Maybe as recently as two and a half years ago, I would awake, concerned that I hadn’t ‘worried’ about the possibilities of the day ahead. Had I covered everything yesterday?
Ugh, hardly refreshed from the broken night lamely called ‘sleep’! Never mind, jump up, run as much crap through my mind as possible, attempting to cover any unseen threats to the day, the bills, the family, the work, something that need fixing in the house or garden…
And I would continue to feed this maelstrom of mental mayhem whilst brushing my teeth, bathing, ‘inhaling’ breakfast and a drink…all those things that come so easily, automatically, without conscious thought or effort. How clever was I?
While aged forty seven and a half, I knew just how to function automatically, that was one less worry then! So ‘useful’ – because it allowed me more space…to worry!
Just prior to my rebirth, or awakening if you like of my ‘real’ life, I started to research “stress” – and what was available to help relieve the symptoms I had experienced since I was a teenager. I had over the years sought help from various physicians, therapists who offered counselling, hypnotherapy, and one who was very highly accredited and who offered me cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT). I told them all, I just want some peace…in my mind…from my mind!
I think the best that one particular therapist managed was to (helpfully) “empty my emotional bucket,” as he coined it. I liked him, and that phrase…summed up my state really, allowed me to get back to being, uhm…just what I was before.
So I was somewhat disillusioned with what had been a number of attempts over many years to help me find some peace; there had also been a few episodes of disabling depression too!
I was sitting in my emergency response vehicle, a paramedic and ridiculously busy manager of so many other aspects of the operations associated with keeping a 24/7 service and staff going. The performance improvement aspects, staff, administration, the projects…the list was endless.
I was very, very busy doing…doing! It would be a couple of years on before I realised I needed to be…being, just to be a human being!
And whilst on emergency ‘standby’ – and thanks to the Smartphone, I was able to access the internet and search the term “stress,” whilst waiting for the next call.
“Eureka…I found the key! I didn’t know it for sure at that moment, but this guy, Willie Horton, had something, something of use to me, something that just could empower me to come home to myself, and to find some of that peace of mind…
This man had provided something that resonated, created interest in me with his weekly video’s and ezines. Willie introduced me to Mindfulness – living in the present, the here and now, the only place we can ever really be! It was to lead to everything I had ever needed – peace, harmony and balance!
So now, having gone to bed and practised a little light meditation, perhaps just a body scan to ensure I’m in touch and all muscles are truly relaxed; that I’ve watched my breathing and run a short non judgemental video of the day passed, I sleep…soundly.
I awake, gently, and watch my thoughts are they arise, and let them go. I meditate for a short while, simply watching my breathe, observing in my mind the air as I inhale and exhale, the abdominal area rise and fall…and steady my mind before gently rising to my feet, and mindfully attend the bathroom stuff.
I am now aware of the toothbrush, the paste…the sounds, taste, colours, feel and smell and as I am using my senses, in that moment, I can be nowhere else, those mindless ruminations and anxieties are where they belong…
I shower or bathe mindfully, appreciating with my senses the water, soap, etc. I meditate informally when showering and often imagine the water spray washing away the previous day’s challenges…I dress mindfully too!
Breakfast is appreciated with mindful awareness. Using all my available senses, eating mindfully changes everything about the food you enjoy. The sight of the meal, the colours, the taste, of course, the smell and sounds as I chew one spoon or fork of food at a time. This ever so automatic thing we do so mindlessly everyday robs us of a present enjoyment and appreciation of that which we can truly savour. It also aids digestion; I eat less, feeling full earlier!
A lot of work perhaps?
Maybe you enjoy being a victim to rumination, anxiety…of being everywhere but in the moment that is fact, of memories and thoughts that are no longer reality in that moment!
Now – the family interactions, the drive to work…the work itself, are all appreciated mindfully.
And this is how I became me, truly me. After forty seven and a half years I found peace and presence of mind that allows me to ‘see’ with clarity what is. My performance has improved in my new life and my healthier work choices. My creativity has been discovered and life’s challenges are still there of course, but they are seen for what they really are, and then consigned to the past.
We really do have choice to exercise much of the time. It really is unnecessary to live a stressful, unfulfilled life a victim of circumstances. Mindfulness requires no religious affiliation, and yet is accessible regardless of your religion, or if you have none. I wish you every peace.
Photo credit: Bob Brotchie
Bob Brotchie was an emergency paramedic for almost two decades. Having retired and re-trained, he now operates a successful private counselling service – angliacounselling.co.uk – in East Anglia, England, confident he can identify the uniqueness of the clients he works for, and guide them through their challenges with counselling and principles of psychotherapy and CBT!
He is the founder of the ICE – In Case of Emergency campaign launched in 2005 – and still today globally accepted as a means to identify the unconscious casualty – and notify the loved ones.
Bob, your wonderful story reinforces my belief that a more peaceful life is awaiting my attention and that I already know all the fundamentals to experience it. I am finding that through practice, appreciating each moment becomes just a little bit easier. I now plan to appreciate my toothbrush all the more! Thank you for this story.
Thank you David, it’s lovely to hear how my story is resonating with yours.
I wish you every continued success in achieving that paradox of ‘non-striving’ – to be ‘here, now’!
Thank you for sharing.
yes indeedy Bob – be in the moment. Great piece and thanks
Thanks Earla, appreciate your kindness. Take care…
The Bipolar Project
I like your story Bob. I’m into ACT which incorporates mindfulness into it, but I’ve not practiced mindfulness meditation really. It’s something I plan to do. But I keep putting it off….
Thanks for your thoughts @TheBipolarProject. I know just a little about ACT, and from what I have read and heard It’s pretty good stuff! You know I’m sure that if Mindfulness meditation is to be a part of your life…it will in time.
Great to hear from you, take care.