The Fear: A Mindfulness Journey

buddah representing my mindfulness journey

One of the questions I get asked is why I like mindfulness and how did I come to want to bring it to the masses. Like many people, I came to mindfulness after a mental health crisis. It will take a little explaining, and hopefully, the story won’t bore you too much.

Years ago, I decided to use my head as an emergency brake in a bowl. This is not a technique I would recommend to be honest with you. At the time, I did what all my peers did and just shook myself off and carried on until a headache forced me home. In retrospect, this was one of the worst ideas I have had in my life. I shouldn’t be too hard on myself as I was undoubtedly concussed at the time.

I’ve now spent years trying to overcome the issues this crash has brought me. I’m deaf in my left ear. I lost my sense of taste and one that I can’t decide if it’s good or bad, my sense of smell. I’ve also lost most of my life’s memories and have memory issues to this day. Then there are the mental health issues that came with it.

I’ve had issues with depression and severe anxiety since the accident. I managed to follow this up with being in a highly toxic relationship, which I should have left years before. It led to me trying to commit suicide to get away from it, which brought me more attention from mental health services.

Mental health crisis

It is one of those bitter pills to take that you can’t get help from mental health services until you are at a crisis point. I will go out on a limb and say that earlier intervention is preferable. Like many people, I had been asking for help. But, resources were so stretched that there was no way to get the help I needed until something happened.

Now, my mental health decreased from this point and got worse for the next few years. I was stuck in a feedback loop, which is the way I feel about it now. I was getting stronger and stronger drugs. It was making me feel like I was losing who I felt was me. I’d go to therapy. After, I’d then just get a new prescription. I’d think in some ways, and it justified me in feeling like shit.

The mindful revolution

It allowed me to wallow in self-pity. I was justified in this. Mindfulness was offered to me, as much as I wanted to pretend it wasn’t. It was, but it was in groups, and at that point, there was no way I’d go to a group setting. I also felt that mindfulness was just part of some crazy Eastern philosophy.

My thinking here was affected by my university education. My studies centred around philosophy, and my teachers were sceptical about the Eastern traditions. I never read anything about them, as this felt like a waste of time. Allowing others to direct your thinking without any research is not clever. I wonder what other things I have not experienced due to being conditioned against them.

Eventually, I was tired of just getting new prescriptions and a pat on the back for trying. To be honest, I didn’t feel like I was trying. I began to cycle more, and I asked for a reduction in my medication. The time was right to start exploring other ideas. I looked at mindfulness. Which on Instagram just seemed to be people in yoga poses selling what looked like scams. They probably were, but slowly I started to read more.

The skatepark epiphany

The moment it all clicked was at the skatepark. I was looking at a vert tombstone. A block of rock on top of a ramp, essentially. I’ve never really bothered with it before. It’s always given me the fear. Today I was going to have a sesh on it.

In the past, when I was doing something “gnarly”, I would have put headphones on and pressed play on something fast and aggressive. I went with something mellow this time, some smooth jazz if you need to know. I took a minute and focused on my breathing. Negative thoughts came, and I accepted them rather than shooing them away.

I then told myself today was great, and this will be the icing on the top. Following this up, I told myself how many people I had seen successfully tackle this beast and how great it would be to ride away. In and out, in and out. I rolled towards the tombstone. I rolled away but wasn’t successful at what I was going for. The second try was closer, and the third try was a make.

Then it hit me. I was elated at not dying and making something gnarly. I used mindfulness and overcame my negative headspace. It works. It actually works. Going home that night, I was floating on a cloud.

So, simply I want people to experience this feeling.

Leave a Reply