In late May 2016 I suffered a breakdown and after being judged by my GP to be suffering from high achiever anxiety & depression with a side of perfectionism I was referred to iCope – who gave me psycho therapy sessions.
After those sessions came to an end my therapist mentioned the Stress Project and its mindfulness drop-in classes. I attended and in a word, I found them "invaluable". My husband and friends noticed after just a few weeks a different, calmer, less self critical and more open woman emerge from the shell of worry, self disgust and fear that I had been cloaking myself in. A person who's smile reached her eyes, eyes that cried less and now held hope.
The casual drop-in nature of the classes, their free availability and ethos - both literally and theoretically, not only encouraged me to give them a try but to delve further into the subject of mindfulness, and take the 8 week course offered by the Stress Project. I am delighted I did. It has opened up new ways of thinking, of approaching life, of responding rather than reacting, and of self-resilience and happiness.
I now find it easy to remind myself that all things change, in the same way every breath is similar but different. Acknowledging that it´s ok to feel sad about something and then move on. Just the same as it´s ok to feel happy about and delight in something, and move on, which is something I find very freeing. For example, the ability to concentrate on the delight of water and toothpaste cleaning my teeth to quieten those nagging voices of preoccupation that sometimes come into my head is ace.
I’ve learnt that self-acceptance and compassion, linked to an openness to experience the undoubted challenges that living in a world in which not even one life giving breath stays the same, is just one of the big pluses I have gained from practicing mindfulness - both in group sessions and individually as a routine daily exercise.
I continue to attend the weekly Drop-in sessions each Thursday afternoon, when I can both as a participant and now a facilitator. After training, I have also given several taster mindfulness sessions at events. This has boosted my confidence and has helped me in my mindfulness practice.
I’m not only keen to share the peace which mindfulness has helped bring me but to ‘give something back’. I’d encourage anyone to give the practice of mindfulness and learning of self-compassion a go, whatever their current state of mind. For me it has been a positive, if at times, challenging experience.
For more information on mindfulness at the Stress Project please visit www.stressproject.org.uk/mindfulness
The next course starts on 20th February and there is a FREE drop-in class every Thursday from 4-5pm.