As I sit at my iPad wondering what to write, I thought I would just start and see what emerges.
Over the last 3 months; like many of you my world has taken on a different flavour. It is interesting to reflect the phases I went and am still going through as I get to grips with what is a new normal. First there was the panic and anxiety I couldn’t put my finger on. Why, despite all the practices of mindfulness I have incorporated in my life was there this feeling- surely I should be able to cope and manage? It wasn’t before long I noticed what a judgment that was on my part and kindness was not in the frame at all. The thoughts flowed fast and furious; some not even completing themselves:
- what was going to happen with work?
- should I go and pick up my son from Uni before lock down?
- how were we going to live together 24/7?
- was there food in the house?
- where were we going to get our next lot of toilet rolls from as we really were running low!
- did we have paracetamol in the house?
The temptation was so strong to go and ‘sort things out now.’ However, I resisted; I sat and practiced. Made It simple - by finding my feet on the floor, grounding myself and allowing as best I could for the breath to breathe itself. It didn’t help that I was getting over some seasonal flu bug and had a cough - but not dry; felt weary - but no temperature and that my right ribs felt tight whenever I tried to breathe gently into the space.
It didn’t arrive straight away; however, after a few periods of practice I realised my body had taken me back to the utter panic and anxiety I felt when I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer in November 2014 and throughout that journey the never ending return of panic and anxiety whenever there was an appointment or some sort of intervention required - even it was only to take my blood pressure! Just getting in the car to drive to the hospital would set my heart beating, my teeth chattering and my arms shaking. Had no idea at the time it was my body going into fight / flight mode.
Instead of doing my usual self talk of “don’t be so stupid, you’re over it now’- I took the time to share this discovery with some who I knew would be receptive to hearing me. I chose those people carefully as I knew I needed to be heard. It was of an amazing comfort to be heard and for my real fears and anxieties to be acknowledged; even though on the surface I was ‘fully functioning on automatic pilot.’ Even now as I write this I can feel the slight constriction in my throat - my amazing body’s signal to me that I need to take care of myself and not get caught up in the story.
So my practice continues and am so supported by all the opportunities I have had to practice with others via the medium of necessity - Zoom! If anything; the silver lining of this period has strengthened and enriched my practice. The stunning weather we have experienced has allowed me to spend much of the time outdoors tending to the garden and nurturing the growth of new plants - whose fragrance and colour make my heart sing each morning as I take my walk around the garden barefoot on the grass, come rain or sun.
Even though there are still moments of Groundhog Day, lack of physical contact with those I want to be with, lack of work - there is a richness to my life in appreciating that no matter what; I always have my practice to turn to as a safe and kind friend who never lets me down if I allow myself to pause and listen even in the hardest moments of my life.
As I finish, I am minded of a poem I wrote during my period of dealing with the fallout of chemo and now seems pertinent to share this here:
Bless the soles of my feet, the palms of my hands
Have courage, strength and belief in the practices I know.
May they work in harmony for the greatest good
May I know
Aliveness, Peace and Joy.
Help me through,
See the fear in me, hold me, reassure me
Be with me as I take the next part of my unknown journey
Hold my hands and guide the soles of my feet.