Mindfulness. What the fuck does that actually mean anyway? Well I could go and quote someone else so I absolve myself from all challenge, but I won’t. Why? Because if it wasn’t for what mindfulness means to me, and my interpretation, I seriously doubt I would be here to type this article. More likely I’d be locked up in the looney bin or would have long ago joined my sweetheart on the next leg of our journey through this universe.
As the partner, carer, support, husband and best friend to someone who was being ravaged by cancer, it was my job to hold my (and everyone’s) shit together. To be the voice of hope and positivity when inside I was terrified and powerless. To smile and soothe when I just wanted to scream and cry.
It was nothing compared to what Renee had to go through, something I would not wish on my worst enemy, but it was taxing to say the least. We spent 3 years living in a constant state of high anxiety, stress, hope and hopelessness. (most of which remain with me to this day)
With an incurable diagnosis, we were forced, thankfully, to focus on each and every day. To not project a life in an uncertain future. To not dwell on the past. We had no other option.
We really did have some of our best moments as a family after Renee was diagnosed. Plenty of our worst that’s for sure, but when you face the very real possibility that what you are doing right now, may be the last time you will do this, you absorb every minute detail. You remember every feeling, every word, laugh, smell, touch. And that, my friends, is something magical to have. Memories. Something no disease, no event, no person, can ever take from you. A simple picnic in the backyard becomes a treasured moment to remember.
But holding my shit together wasn’t, and still isn’t easy. What I learnt from our forced way of life was to shut my mind off from everything but the moment. No mean feat I can tell you, but utterly necessary.
It was this learned ability, to put all other thoughts aside, to focus on just one thing, that got me through the darkest of days.
So many times that exponential, chest tightening rise of anxiety threatened to overwhelm me. So many times the fear that she wouldn’t wake up would have me holding my breath with every pause of hers. And every time, the only thing I could do was to try to control my mind. Push aside the horrible invasive thoughts and just breathe. I would even repeat over and over “no thoughts, no thoughts”.
And it works.
I still do it now, whenever life gets too much, or the kids are shitting me up the wall, or I can’t sleep. Or just when I need to calm myself.
I have also found that taking time out on a regular basis to just “be” has an amazing knock on effect. I appreciate the beauty in our world. I stop and enjoy the warmth of the sun. I can recognise when a moment is one to remember and make sure I take it all in. I am more aware of my moods and how I interact with people.
In short, being mindful to me means being present in the moment. Feel, see, hear, touch everything of it. Live the moment with a concious mind, not on autopilot.
And this “being present in the moment” is the one lesson I took from losing my beloved. There is no guarantee of tomorrow. There is no chance to go back and relive yesterday. There is only now and what you make of it.
So FFS peeps – don’t waste this one shot you have by being too busy, or waiting and planning for happiness down the track. Enjoy the journey. Be mindful of every moment. Live consciously.