The Quest for Mindfulness: FEELING UNCOMFORTABLE

Like any quest I am in search of something.

At times the thing I seek is clear, but most times it is nebulous. The thing I search for ‘the present moment’ is an elusive creature. I see it hiding in shadows, but most times I feel like I am navigating a foreign space in the dark. Recently I veered slightly off course, with a host of excuses, but the truth is I feel uncomfortable at the moment.

I find the pursuit of mindfulness challenging. I brush off this uncomfortable feeling with ironic comments or satirical observations. Don’t get me wrong, they are equally valid, but they are tools on my quest and not smoke and mirrors, with which to hide behind. At times the pursuit of mindfulness means I need to take on board truths about myself that reflected back at me that don’t always sit well.

Last week I delayed the submission of yet another light-hearted piece for the blog series, because I was feeling anything but light-hearted. Within the span of two days I had found out:

  • I have diabetes
  • A good friends parent is grievously ill and in hospital
  • Someone I was connecting with recently had died all of a sudden.

I felt nothing.

Not true, I felt ashamed. I remember being more upset when accidentally running over and killing a rat with my bike three weeks earlier returning from yoga class. What the hell was wrong with me? Had I allowed myself to be distracted to the point I no longer had an emotional vocabulary that extended past humorous anecdotes?

Don’t worry, I’m not a clinical narcissist or anything; of course my heart broke for the families of the respective people affected by this devastating news. I also reassured my mother that diabetes was not a big deal, I mean I’ve dealt with worse, and we researched ways to manage the condition together. Nonetheless I could not access how ‘I’ felt.

I don’t do earnest well at the best of times, so instead I just felt and continued to sit with a feeling discomfort as I went about my week.

Following the news, I had an inkling that something was bubbling away in my subconscious, as I was permanently tired and falling asleep at 20:30 every evening. I could not for the life of me keep my eyes open past 21:00. When I did sleep it was littered with weird restless dreams.

Approaching it mindfully, I accepted I was tired and I went with it.

I noticed that anytime I was engaged in yoga or physical activity that required hip or chest openers, I felt nauseous.

Approaching it mindfully, I accepted I was nauseous and I went with it.

I also noticed that when going for a run, it was hard to breathe. Why? The week before I had ran the same distance, even longer and was fine. Why was I wheezing and feeling so weak?

Approaching it mindfully, I accepted I was having difficulties breathing, took a puff of my inhaler and I went with it

Today, I realised why I was tired, nauseous, and breathless. I was sad.

Sadness is a strange emotion to me, as it tends to come escorted by other emotions like anger, frustration, powerlessness, injustice etc. This time it snuck in the back door and came alone. I hadn’t even noticed it was sitting there the whole time just waiting for me to stop and acknowledge it. A lot of people shy away from it I guess, worrying it might indicate weakness or be inappropriate, but its just sadness, no more no less. Like any other emotion, it simply needs to be acknowledged, no more no less.

At the end of most yoga and meditation practices Tatjana asks us to dedicate our practice to someone. I always thought it was a nice gesture, but effectually a symbolic rather than an active one. This week though I realised it is actually an active deed. The last few days I have been taking the opportunity to dedicate my practises whether yoga, running, writing etc. to those families suffering at the moment with illness or loss. How is this active? Because being mindful means being present and being present means making choices that are authentic and respect where you are at now. Hopefully those choices will then lead to action, which is intentional rather than consequential.

And so the quest continues…