As I stood in front of Mark, I felt weak and tired. So much so I had to sit down during our (what was intended to be) brief chat. With all his positivity, the last thing I wanted to tell him was that I was struggling with my health and wondering if I had got all this wellbeing malarkey right if I couldn’t even sort myself out. But Mark is a wise, thoughtful and perceptive man and so kindly took the time to share some pearls of wisdom. The biggest of which was: Prioritise your health.
As I walked away from Mark, I remembered how only on Monday Gerad had said to me a very similar thing – ‘Why are you not putting your own wellbeing first Sally?’, he asked. ‘I am,’ I replied, but we both realised quickly I wasn’t. ‘I try to eat healthily, I really do. I try to get lots of sleep. And I meditate sporadically as and when I can. Cutting down hours is hard Gerad, it really is.’ He smiled and suggested first off I try to make a window of half an hour every morning and evening for me – to sit quietly, re-connect, slow my mind from its crazy, constant thinking.
So, I made a decision, a very clear one. My health will come first.
And this is what has happened…
The first day I set my alarm half an hour earlier. I got out of bed, found a chair from which I liked looking out over the garden and did a 20-minute meditation. My mind whizzed, and churned, I’m not doing so well, I thought. But I let go of the judgement, remembered the process and ran with it. I certainly felt better afterwards. Perhaps I’ll have a proper breakfast I thought. Eggs and avocado here I come. I wrapped up work at 6 (very early for me) and I read. I was out like a light.
Day 2. Back to my chair. This time it was slightly easier. May as well have a good brekky again I thought. On that note why don’t I get a food delivery so I can eat a little healthier. Wrapped up work at 6. Doing well.
Day 3. I now wanted to meditate. I couldn’t wait to get to that chair. Follow it up with my breakfast, a little inhalation to tackle the remnants of my chest infection. And before I know it 20 minutes of meditation in the evening again feels like a good plan. I really don’t fancy TV (yes I know I work in it!), no violence, no upset. I’ll pick up my book (other than holiday I don’t remember the last time I read properly). I’m asleep before I know it.
Day 4 – the delivery arrives. Healthy food here I come – with all this meditating I am actually looking forward to it. Salmon, veg and rice for lunch and a wonder-recipe from Rachel Kelly’s fabulous, ‘The Happy Kitchen” book for dinner. I’m feeling stronger.
Day 5-8 – I’m really on a roll. This regular meditating twice daily is doing me the world of good already. I feel calmer, I feel hopeful, I feel excited about life. Hmm, what else shall I try? WiFi off between 2100 and 2200, tick. Order some vitamins and supplements, tick. Remember that Neti-pot (take a look at this 15 second clip it’s hilarious!) – water in one nostril out the other to clear the sinuses (not a success initially, I admit). How about some slower, more calming music for my morning routine (my favourite, Gregory Porter), tick.
Day 9 (yesterday). I genuinely feel different. Really different. Admittedly, I have now decided to get up 45 minutes earlier every day to incorporate my new routine (some yoga stretches this morning). And it’s been, at times, a challenge to finish work early (once it was 1930, but twice 1700!). I remind myself my health is my priority. I try to go to bed earlier (2300) and stick to a bedtime routine, waking up to a light clock instead of my mobile’s fog-like horn of an alarm.
So, as I write this blog today, it’s Day 10. I’m on the early part of my journey, but I know it’s working. For me the meditation is the key. Nothing feels daunting, or disastrous as it did before. I’m calmer, slower, but I’m achieving more. I’m not getting so easily distracted. And I’m relishing in ‘looking after me’.
There’s so much research out there verifying the benefits of a regular meditation practice, from improved physical health, reduced anxiety, better memory and greater creativity, to name just a few.
“Meditation is not a way of making your mind quiet. It is a way of entering into the quiet that is already there – buried under the 50,000 thoughts that the average person thinks every day”
Now, I am a bit of a throw everything at the problem gal, so I wouldn’t recommend necessarily doing what I did. But what if you just chose one of my list of things? Or found something that works for you? What if you prioritised you for even just 10 minutes a day? But every day, and regularly. My guess is your stress levels would drop, your happiness would rise and if you’re brave enough to use a neti-pot you’d get a good lot of salt water up your nose and down your throat!