The first mindfulness course I ever took coincided with my youngest going away to university for the first time. It was an emotional month. Her absence made me notice my son’s absence more; her noise and bustle had previously disguised it I suppose. Now the house was quiet with the dog’s claws clacking against the tiles as he traipsed forlornly from room to room wondering why there was no one there. And the silence made my question louder, “What now?”
If you’ve been following my blog, you’ll know that I had also given up my teaching job at this point, needing a change in direction, and that change in direction came in the form of mindfulness.
I set off on the train for Barcelona on the first day of the mindfulness course, feeling nervous but excited. It was strange to travel anywhere out of school hours and I felt as if I was viewing the world through a new lens. There was life outside the classroom! I had arrived early allowing for the morning rush hour, so popped into a nearby cafe for a coffee and croissant before joining the group. This in itself was a novelty; I couldn’t remember the last time I had been for a coffee alone.
The first mindfulness session was about stepping out of automatic pilot. This was something that I desperately needed as I had spent the past 15 years teaching at the same school following the same routine. As we began the first sitting meditation, becoming aware of the sounds around us and then connecting with any tensions in our body, I realised that was the first time I had been truly still and connected to myself for years. I was surprised to discover how much tension was in my shoulders. When we lay down on the floor for the body scan which involved focusing on each part of the body in turn, it was so relaxing that some people fell asleep.
The techniques I learnt over the 8-weeks helped me to connect with the present moment. At home, instead of focusing on the fact that my daughter was no longer there, I was able to enjoy little moments – a cup of tea in the sunshine, really noticing the colours of the autumn leaves. The quiet house was ideal for my meditations and her empty bedroom the perfect place for it. I invested in a meditation cushion which became a haven.
When emotions overwhelmed me I was better able to deal with them – allowing myself to sit with the feelings rather than run from them. That aching heart at my children’s absence no longer caused distress, but rather proved my love for them.
When my mind raced with worrying thoughts about their safety or the future I calmed myself with the breathing techniques that I had practised each week.
I am so grateful for mindfulness. Mindfulness has allowed me to reconnect with myself, to view things from a more positive perspective and to enjoy the present moment.
Give it a go!