Practising mindfulness is a process. It’s not about trying to get something, but about living and being, allowing the practice to unfold just as life does. There is no end point but that doesn’t mean we don’t make progress. Every so often, something happens that makes me realise just how far I have travelled. It’s a moment to acknowledge, to explore and to celebrate.
I had one of these moments last week. I received a phone call from a hospital I am under; could I attend a three month inpatient neuro-rehabilitation programme with less than two days notice? I have been on the waiting list for the last eighteen months. It’s the only treatment available in this country that I am yet to try. Places are like gold dust.
But two days notice to up and leave daily life for three months in hospital is a tall order for anyone. Factor in the extra challenges I face with my disability, the length of time it takes me to get things done whilst managing my condition, and it’s a tall order indeed.
I didn’t know what I would decide, but I felt surprisingly calm. I was able to take time to explore my options. I could look from different perspectives. I drew upon the broad, stable awareness I’ve cultivated in practising the open heart meditation. I maintained my grounding as I allowed thoughts and feelings to come and go. I was able to look in on the situation and see it for what it was, rather than flapping about in panic, which would have been understandable but unhelpful.
As I thought it through clearly, the reality emerged that I would have less than twenty-four hours to get ready. I knew that wasn’t long enough. I asserted my needs, requesting the weekend to prepare and make arrangements, and I left it in the hands of the hospital, comfortable with my decision.
This time it wasn’t to be. Although my treatment would have begun no later, the bed had to be filled. I continue on the waiting list, not knowing when the next call will come or how much notice I’ll be given, but I now feel confident that it will feel like a ripple in the water, rather than a wave crashing down on me. With the help of my mindfulness practice, I can respond rather than react.