For most of my adult life l have considered myself to be honest and emotionally straight forward; l would often become frustrated with other people when l felt they were being evasive or avoiding confronting difficult emotions because l thought everyone should be doing what l thought l was doingl One of my lightbulb moments on this journey came when l realised that l was in fact communicating the emotion l WANTED to be feeling, rather than being authentic. I was denying the truth by dressing it up as honesty; in essence l was running from myself.
This laid the foundation for the transformation that Mindfulness has - and is - bringing about in me.
I 'stumbled across' the Now Project retreats as a 'last resort' in 2014. I had been experiencing chronic pain for a couple of years by then and had truly had enough. I was taking a concoction of strong medication and didn't like the way it was affecting me - l felt like l was losing myself and was aware enough to see that l wasn't fully present in my own life because of the impact of the pain and the drugs. When my consultant told me they had reached the end of the diagnostic road for me and the only 'solutions' the medical profession could offer were a full hysterectomy "in case" it made any difference to my pain levels, or long term morphine prescriptions, l became desperate to find another way: that other way was Mindfulness.
I attended my first retreat in June 2014 and l can hand-on-heart say it changed my life.
Within a weekend of teaching and coaching in this safe and nurturing environment, something incredible shifted within me: my body released trapped emotions l wasn't even aware l was carrying. This was a hugely significant experience for me, marking a fundamental turning point in my journey.
I still experience episodes of pain but l no longer see it as "my pain" - l don't define myself by it or allow it to get into my head. I am learning to break the 'pain-anxiety-increased pain- more anxiety' cycle by accepting the pain as it presents and being with it.
Practicing mindfulness has impacted every aspect of my life from my parenting to my relationships. I am learning that this is a journey of 'unbecoming' and that TRYING hinders - rather than helps - the process. As l learn to let go of old habits - which in turn enables old programming to come undone - l become open to whatever presents itself, and my old limiting version of who l am, disintegrates.
Now that l am able to see this alternative to living in a self-made reality fraught with anxiety, stress and suffering, l am humbled by the opportunity to share my experiences and support others in their journeys in whatever way l can.
Volunteering for the Now project is a true privilege - the team are an incredible bunch with a huge range of skills and approaches but with the powerful unifying gift of presence. It really is something which has to be experienced.