Monday, 24 February 2014

Mind Choice: Seize the day

Today's post is the second post written by Clare McLusky who provides us with an insight into her experience with cancer and the popular practice of Mindfulness. 

Clare has a Masters degree in Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy from University of Oxford and teaches Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy to people living with cancer. Clare is also a qualified Occupational Therapist, Yes to Life Helpline volunteer and one of the founding members and facilitators of Oxford Sangha, practicing in the tradition of Thich Nhat Hanh.

January was a real struggle and it took me practically the whole month to recover from Christmas and to feel alive and focused again.  The festive period combined with the school holidays is frequently a time when I find myself becoming scattered and depleted.  The culmination is that I drift along feeling tired, eating more, meditating less and becoming increasingly unaware of where my attention is and consequently making less choices in the moment, for example, about whether or not to follow a train of thought.  I am more reactive than responsive to life.  This vicious cycle keeps going until I have a deadline that can no longer be put off.  I then do the necessary to feel alive and focused again in order to get the job done, which for me is a return to healthy eating, exercise, meditation, journal writing and setting intentions.  Thank goodness for deadlines!

This year what really helped was buying a rebounder (a mini trampoline) not only has it made me feel physically alive and vibrant but has brought energy into my meditation and increased awareness of my physical body, which like following the breath, immediately makes me feel more grounded or anchored in the present.  I bought it through Jason Vale (here) and follow his medium bounce workout at 6.30 am most mornings.  It is an incredibly uplifting start to the day.  I love it.  I am giving my heart a terrific workout and fully oxygenating my body and stimulating my lymphatic system. 

Getting a sense of the body as a whole comes naturally exercising like this but we may choose to pay attention to the feel of the body whatever we are doing (stretching to reach something, driving, sitting in a chair) by noticing the sensations of the weight of the body, of movement, of the touch of cloth or the coolness or warmth of the air against the skin and the movements of the diaphragm and belly as the breath moves in and out of the body.  And doing this with an attitude of acceptance, maybe even smiling to the body we become grounded in the present moment.  And it is here that peace and stillness reside.  

I love walking in the countryside during this wonderful weather with its sunshine, winds and showers.  There is an old wood, with tall, thin trees that sway and creak in the wind and yet when I stand and watch, the stillness is palpable.  I wish, just like the trees with whatever is thrown at them, that when I am irritated or depressed I would remember that deeper, still place within where I could just watch these experiences come and go.

As I become more aware in each moment, I feel more in the flow of life, noticing beauty all around and frequently feeling filled with gratitude.  Humorous coincidences happen.  The most thrilling one (a while back now) was receiving an e-mail from my cousin with the words ‘carpe diem’ and I couldn’t remember what it meant.  A matter of moments later, I received an e-mail from a lovely person I had spoken to through Yes to Life, sending me a recording of a song he had written.  I listened to it and there it was “carpe diem, seize the day” I laughed out loud. 

It is a beautiful song featuring Mari Wilson and Mr Hudson, you can listen to it here.

To read more of Clare's Mind Choice series please click here.

To find out more about Clare's work, please visit her website.

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