A Skeptic Now Embracing Mindfulness
After 5 days of being bedridden from a migraine, I felt confident that mindfulness couldn’t possibly help. After all, at the time, I was spending more of my day with that migraine than not. I wanted drugs. I wanted surgery. I needed an out. And. I. Needed. It. Now.
Although I had all the information I needed to choose mindfulness, I opted not to practice mindfulness. As a researcher, I have heard or witnessed stories of how mindfulness practices help women who had experienced sexual pain for years finally discover intimacy with their partners. I had read the papers that demonstrated – quite convincingly – how well mindfulness worked on treating things like depression, anxiety, and the symptoms associate with cancer treatment. I had even been trained in mindfulness-based counselling. And still, I made the choice to put it off.
It’s not going to work. I’m too busy. I have better things to do.
Do these words feel true for you? If so, I want you to know that I get it.
My excuses came so easily, and my choosing to embracing those excuses may have only added to the worsening of my experiences surrounding that migraine.
The slow embrace
Eventually, after several years of managing my pain semi-successfully – walking and yoga had a big positive impact – I decided to try incorporating a mindfulness practice into my day, but did not have the hope that it would work. I had dabbled in mindfulness off and on before with no results, so I felt confident that something so simple and non-invasive wouldn't help me all that much. Instead, I tried it if only to be able to tell myself, honestly, that I’d tried everything. So, I committed to an 8-week program I’d found in a book. 15 minutes a day for 8 weeks...that felt doable.
And then, it started to work.
When I started to feel the impact, it was so subtle that I almost missed it. For example, one day, instead of my usual inner critic, I heard my inner voice say, "It’s OK Miranda, making mistakes is human."
Whoa! I’d heard myself say that to dozens of clients before, but never to myself.
Another day, an argument with my partner that would normally go on for a while shifted more quickly than it normally would to acceptance and finding a solution.
Doing the work
Today, I know that the 15 minutes I spend practicing mindfulness every morning is useful because even today, I overrode my typical Type-A self and went for a midday walk with my colleagues rather than saying, "Sorry, I’ve got too much work to do." And guess what? I still got all my work done.
I eventually turned to mindfulness, in spite of myself. These reasons made it easy.
- It’s free. If you want to try mindfulness, there are a bajillion resources.
- You can do it anytime. 5 minutes at work. In the car. Part of your morning routine.
- You don’t need to rely on anyone or anything. It’s a solo kind of thing. No strings, no props, and no excuses.
I’m not the boss of you. You’re either going to try it or you're not. But, if you feel like you connect with any of my experiences and are considering trying mindfulness, know this: You’re probably not going to be very good at it in the beginning. Actually, there are likely going to be days where it feels like a waste of time. That’s because mindfulness is a muscle. It takes practice. You wouldn’t expect yourself to be able to drive a car perfectly on your first attempt, would you? Sometimes, it’s going to feel awkward and you are going to get distracted. Give it time. Part of being mindful is learning to shift compassion and acceptance toward yourself, like you might a friend. Just like you would if you were starting any new skill, get some advice from others who might have more experience. Read a book, listen to a podcast, watch a YouTube video. Over time, you will get better.
My mindfulness practice surprises me every day. If you appreciate the perspective of this nerdy Psychology Specialist, keep an eye out for my next article where I’ll get into what mindfulness does to our brains that makes it so effective.
Wildfire Women Contributor
Miranda moved to the Okanagan after studying at the University of Cambridge to reconnect with what’s important to her – big, beautiful, Canadian nature. She spends her free time working toward creating a sustainable, simple life. Last year, she learned to garden and make honey-wine.
In the meantime, she puts her psychology expertise to good use by guiding students on their educational paths. She brings to her interactions a lifetime of trusted and meaningful connection with people from around the world and a keen sense of where people are at to support those she encounters to find well-paced and meaningful next steps.
She is excited to continue to grow within this community.