Tuesday, 6 September 2011
Blimey - That's a Bit Deep!
Maintenance of daily formal meditation has been appalling recently because I've been too tired to keep to my early morning spot. However, the mindfulness principles underlying the practice now seem to be firmly ingrained in my psyche. This was demonstrated after waking up after a planned appendectomy with the blooming thing still in place and a band of puzzled doctors around the bed who hadn't the faintest idea what was going on. You can imagine that a lot of viable hypotheses about what might be wrong were popping up in my head, some of which would have had devastating consequences for myself and my family.
What mindfulness practice allows me to do is let go of this unhelpful thinking, which could easily have set my anxiety response to a level consistent with that expected during a loop-the-loop attempt in a fighter jet. Aaaargh! Instead, I brought myself back to the present by re-establishing contact with the present, my breath, sensations in the body and what was going on around me and although this process had to be repeated each time my imagination started to run away with me, it was predictably effective.
I consider myself so fortunate. The diagnosis when it eventually came means that there will hopefully be no long term disruption in my family life but of course things could have been so different. Had they have been so, a focus on the present in a more catastrophic situation might have reduced the distress caused by 'going off on one , giving too much importance to those automatic thoughts that might serve no purpose but heightening distress and discomfort. By acquiring this skill, which I admit is easier said than done, more headspace is freed up. This allows decision making that is undoubtedly needed at times when life-changing things occur to be given the full attention that they warrant.