Mindfulness and the Blessings of Grace

My body – its struggles and minor triumphs – has been teaching me some important things about life this year. Thankfully, the herbs that Wendy has prescribed for me are helping enormously. I have just had a short, relatively normal and almost pain-free period! Given where I have been of late, this feels like a small miracle. With Wendy’s support and knowledge, I feel for the first time in countless months that there is hope for me. I find it quite shocking that only a couple of months ago I was being handed leaflets about hysterectomy by the hospital and yet here I am seemingly improving. I have learned how easy it can be to be channelled down a particular route, one that might not necessarily be right and yet, once you are on it, has its own momentum. I feel incredibly blessed to have met Wendy at this point; it feels like a much prayed for reprieve.

Now that the difficulties I encountered with Implanon and Utovlan are behind me and the herbs are working their magic, I have been able to really enjoy my Yoga. Not only this, running is having a positive impact on both my physical and mental state too. Since quitting Implanon, I began a beginners running programme that mixed running and fast walking. Gradually and gently I have been building up the running and reducing the walking, the plan being to ultimately run for the full period.

It has been one of the hardest physical things I have done and yet, I am really loving it! During the worst moments of my Implanon experience I wrote a Blog piece about how living in the moment can become such a challenge when you find that those moments are dominated by illness and pain. How do we embrace mindfulness in a positive way when our bodies or minds are suffering? I am not sure that there is any one easy answer to this. However, what the ‘pain’ and effort of running are teaching me is that even when we feel ourselves to be struggling, focusing on the end point – i.e. when I will stop for that session – only makes running all the harder. When I stay in the moment, right inside the intense breathing, the heaviness of gravity weighing on my muscles, the tiredness, and stop thinking about it ending, it becomes bearable. I wouldn’t say it becomes easy – it isn’t but I can understand how running can be experienced as a form of meditation, its gift being that it brings you right here, right now, deep into the experience of your body. I am finding that running focuses you perfectly and teaches that wherever you find yourself, the trick is to be with it, become fascinated by it and it will transform the way you experience time and your ability to cope with difficulties. I am beginning to discover that there can be found a peace at the centre of that challenge. Not only that, having a good cardio vascular workout has the most glorious of paybacks: I feel high as a kite after! Those lovely, feel-good endorphins that pump through your brain and into your system post-exercise have a long lasting effect on your sense of well-being. Running can lift your spirits.

I suspect that my menstrual problems have been triggered by the hormonal imbalances that long-term stress can bring us; when the body and emotions are pushed so hard by life’s challenges – upended by too much grief and loss – we can tip over and find it hard to right ourselves on our own. I think in many ways this has happened to me and I needed a helping hand to get back up. I feel that the herbs are helping me to reclaim that balance again and my body and emotions are definitely feeling the benefit.

Last night, one of my Yoga teachers taught me the Moon Salutation Vinyasa (flowing sequence). I had asked her to do this so that I could combine both the Moon and Sun Salutations in my daily practice. I love the thought of honouring the Goddess and God with my body in this way, of using my body to acknowledge the balance of my inner and outer life; my own creative force and the source of inspiration that nourishes it. Like the ever-flowing energies that the Yin Yang sign so beautifully and simply illustrates, that balance is by no means static – it breathes, moving in and out of complimentary states; our spirits, our bodies, our whole beings are meant to breathe and move. When we get tipped off-balance, it is almost as if our spiritual breathing becomes congested, the flow blocked and the energy stagnant. It can make us poorly, depressed, blind to the beauty and wonder in life. I certainly have felt all of these states during the worst part of this year and to feel myself breathe a little easier again I am incredibly thankful for.

What I have also learnt is that despite how hopeless we might feel any one of us can encounter Grace. Meeting Wendy, for me, has been an act of Grace; it was completely unexpected and came at that point when all my options seemed at their most limited and grim.

And so…the world is still spinning and as always things are moving on and at this time of the year’s harvest, I count my blessings, I shed and I store.

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