Tracy’s Story: Mindfulness
Mindfulness is allowing me to Be and not Do – because that’s what we are. Human Beings. Not Doings!
Tracy is 30 and works for a charity in Manchester. She came on our mindfulness course in May 2019. This is her story…
I’ve struggled with stress and stress-related mental ill health in the past and had two periods of stress induced sickness in the past year, so I was looking for some practical ways to manage stress for myself and also to perhaps be able to share that with the people I’m working with. I seem to have had a pattern of dealing with stress by just getting on with it, and keeping going and driving myself until I get to the point where I crumble and crash. When that happens, I crash into a depression and then I can’t function at all. I seem to push myself too far, take on too much, don’t pace myself, and my needs go out of the window and other people’s needs are more important. So then I break, am forced to take care of my own needs and have to take time off work. It’s a painful cycle to be in and I just have been seeking ways to break that cycle as well as to slow down, and take care of myself and my inner world and still be able to do my job.
I was in quite a good place mentally when I started the course, and I think it was a really good time because I had recovered from my last bad time and was very focused on preventing that from happening again.
I was struck by how instantly accessible things felt on the course, and how great the other participants were. The accessibility of it has been very important for me, the way it was presented and discussed and reiterated in a way that really helped us to experience it rather than just thinking about it. It’s practice. It’s an experience. It’s not something you can learn by reading about… it’s only helpful if you do it.
I did do the meditations at home in between the sessions. I experimented a bit – tried doing them after work, sometimes that worked but often didn’t, so I tried doing it in the morning instead. I didn’t do it every single day, but I usually managed about five days a week. I wanted to make the most of the opportunity and that was another thing that was helpful [about the course] was the accountability of it. So on the Tuesday I would be sitting with the group and we’d be discussing our experience and if I hadn’t done the home practice then I wouldn’t have anything to share, so I knew that if I was going to get anything out of the course then I would have to do the home-practices.
After a few sessions, I did start to notice that my pace of life (and my walking!) slowed a bit. I was more aware of what I was doing and more aware of the unsustainability of some of the ways that I was organising my working day. I’d notice if I hadn’t done a meditation, my day would somehow be different; I’d feel a bit more stress or be a bit more irritable, certainly more impatient. So if I was having a bad day, I started to be a bit more aware of maybe needing to slow down or be nice to myself rather than punishing myself to go faster or do more. The other thing I noticed was the body awareness, things like just taking a moment to feel I’m sat on my chair, I can feel my bones, feet on the floor, taking little moments to do that, especially if I could feel myself spinning off into thoughts.
I now have some tools for dealing with and managing stress and also know myself a bit better; my own limits, and boundaries. It’s become a bit non-negotiable for me to do meditation in the mornings. I know if I’m having a really tough day, a short meditation could take five minutes but really shift things up. Mindfulness is allowing me to Be and not Do – because that’s what we are. Human Beings. Not Doings! And I think that it’s quite difficult to describe but there’s a quality of being in touch with that, which is really liberating and quite freeing.
Our next Mindfulness course starts in February. Find out more here