September has always seemed like a new year for me. As a teacher, September 1st means”back to school” to prepare for the new school year. It is also a date that symbolises the end of the long lazy summer days and is a call to action with a hint of autumn.
Until last year! This time last year I didn’t return to my teaching job as I had decided to forge a new path for myself. I had been teaching for 22 years, 15 of those in the same school as my children. Last year my daughter went off to uni, so we left the school at the same time. It was symbolic as she had been there since she started her school life and so we “graduated” at the same time. As she was going off to study in the UK and my husband was keen to spend more time in his UK office, it seemed like a good time for a change, freeing me up to visit her regularly and to go with him. It also freed me up to spend more time writing.
The day before I left school, I saw an advert for an 8-week mindfulness course in Barcelona. I signed up, eager to learn how to slow down and reconnect with myself after so many years of rushing around. The course was fantastic and I was hooked.
One of the hardest things at the beginning was sitting still. I had spent my teacher/motherhood years rushing from one task to another and as so many mothers do had failed to really take proper care of myself or even to be aware of my own needs. So, when we did the first meditation I noticed how rigid my body was, how tense my shoulders were and how my mind flitted from one preoccupation to another. The sitting meditation made me become aware of an aching back, I felt aggravated by the discomfort and constantly asked myself if I would ever be able to do this correctly. I was relieved to discover that all these feelings are normal and would pass with time if I just stopped struggling to get things right, if I just let things be and accepted the experience.
As the weeks passed and I completed the home practice things got easier because I stopped fighting. I slowed down in my daily life and was able to clearly observe what was going on for the first time in years. I realised with horror just how much of the small details I had missed during those busy years – I began to reconnect with myself and the world around me.
I began to use mindfulness to help not react so quickly to comments that people make. To enjoy my meals more. To notice the beauty of nature. When my mother was diagnosed with cancer I was better able to stop my mind from fast forwarding to a life without her. I was able to help her to get through each day.
I decided to train to be a mindfulness teacher to help others reconnect with themselves even in the midst of a busy lifestyle. And I have decided to not only hold classes locally but to hold classes online, giving individuals an opportunity for a tailor made course with one-to-one mindfulness classes in the privacy of their own homes.
It’s an exciting time – but I’m keeping mindful!