In the home where I live, pink is king. In the room where I sit and type, no matter how we try (which is not that hard) we fail to sweep away every sparkle of glitter. And, there is a lot of singing. The summer holidays have infused my universe with three little girls perpetually humming or singing whilst drawing, twirling, cartwheeling or otherwise expressing their emotions or themselves in some way.
I lay in bed last night thinking about why I want to teach mindfulness. As I explored my feelings & memory files, there was a persistent background song from the Disney movie "Enchanted" called "How do you know?". In the movie, Giselle, the princess-to-be is banished from her fairytale world and is thrust into a cynical and hard edged city called Manhattan. The princess is curious and open to her experience and joyful and in that way there is possible metaphor for mindfulness, but that wasn't where I was going with this. It was just the title of the song that I decided to pay attention to, seeing as it was so determined to distract me! 'How do I know' that Mindfulness will help others? I know because of the thousands of peer reviewed research papers? True, but I think that I mostly know because it helped me.
Mindfulness has radically transformed (I like this expression) how I relate to my experience, others and myself . Four years ago I was an overwrought mother of three very small girls. By the time my third daughter came along, I had not slept properly for four years (like a lot of mothers or carers) and was compensating by drinking too much coffee. Jumpy, edgy and tired of being yelled at by a trio of egomaniacs, I was reaching critical mass and barely keeping it together. I was also writing a thesis on using MBCT to prevent depression and anxiety and the research was the final push I needed. Something had to change and between the research and the book "Full Catastrophe Living" (Jon Kabat-Zinn), I decided that Mindfulness was part of that change.
Pre-kids, I had done Hatha yoga three times a week and meditated as part of that practice. I thought that I could learn all about Mindfulness by reading about it. 'I didn't need a class'. There I was again, striving and forcing and lacking the self awareness to realize that I was already struggling. I needed to reach out for help. Eventually, I let go of my ego. I found classes. I went on retreats and slowly but surely I began to stop falling asleep during guided meditations. I looked forward to meditating. I missed it when I was out of my routine. I began to enjoy my babies again, rediscovering the exquisite joy that I was fortunate to experience when I brought home my babies. I also found the space within myself to be (occasionally :-)) crazy in love with my husband once again. I was gaining the capacity to understand my mind's impulses and I was becoming skillful at stopping before I reacted in a negative way. Instead I was able to respond in a calm or kind or maybe even compassionate way. I also found the space to become aware of the areas of my life that were not working for me and to take decisive action to change what I could.
We live in the countryside now and the girls are growing like the weeds in the garden, singing and making mud pies and potions. I am grateful for Mindfulness, I could wish that I found it earlier but that would be looking in the rear view mirror. I am in this moment alive and grateful. Next week "Let it go" from the movie Frozen :-).