I was in my final year of university, in an environment that I wasn’t so fond of. Juggling my sporting commitments, my final year project, a number of assignments as well as preparing for my exams. Oh and in the midst of it all, after months of testing I had been diagnosed with an autoimmune disease. It was a lot, and I was beginning to feel pretty overwhelmed. I set high expectations for myself and so there was no compromise. It was wake up, eat, uni work, eat, train, eat, revise, eat, revise and sleep (I really looked forward to the eating parts). I lived this robotic lifestyle day in, day out and there was no other way to describe it other than bland & boring. Don’t get me wrong I was managing and just knew it had to be done. I was simply going through the motions.
During my 2nd semester, we had a guest lecturer speak to us about Mindfulness. It was the first time I had ever heard about it! And I was intrigued. I thought wow this is an interesting way to navigate through life and it made me reflect on the automated way I had been living. She explained to us that Mindfulness is about paying attention to the present moment without judgement, it includes attending to your thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations and environment. I hardly, if ever paid attention to any of those. I was too caught up in completing the next thing on my to do list. We we’re presented with research evidence supporting the benefits of mindfulness in both the clinical and non-clinical population. She said “Mindfulness Meditation is a way to improve quality of life without making any significant outward changes.” That stuck with me, and thought I should really try this.
I downloaded an app, and it started with one minute meditations. Boy! I was in for a shock! Who knew that trying to keep my mind still for just a minute would be so difficult! Whilst meditating I thought that it was a waste of time and that I need to get back to revising. When I attempted to focus on my breath random thoughts would keep popping into my head, it was uncontrollable.
But I really wanted to persevere with it, so I tried everyday to meditate just for that one minute. It was usually before bed, as I wanted to wind down and I thought it would help me to get to sleep. Despite my efforts, it fell through. I had no time to be doing this mindfulness thing. I deleted the app and stopped meditating.
It’s been nearly two years since I’ve completed my degree and it has been total bliss. I’m home, I’m happy and in a better space to commit myself to being mindful. I have gone from not being able to keep my mind still for one minute to being able to meditate for an hour (the length of meditation isn’t the goal it’s more about the process; I just wanted to highlight the difference between then and now). It’s not only the act of meditation, I make a conscious effort to pay attention to what I’m thinking, feeling and doing throughout the day. Although, I still find myself lost in thought, the difference is that I’m actually aware of it now. I can act upon it, and I am developing the ability to consistently bring myself back to the present moment.
I’m controlling my mind as opposed to my mind controlling me.