Let me tell you, I am not one of those people who discovered mindfulness and meditation early in their lives and have been practicing ever since. It was in fact quite the opposite. The concept of meditation was rather strange to me. I always had the conception of meditation being something religious or even esoteric.
When my firstborn was a teenager and felt stressed out, I was looking for some relaxation techniques for her. I then came across something that called ‘autogenic training’ this is a relaxation technique based on self-hypnosis. It works with gravity and temperature in the body and is proven to reduce stress symptoms. Autogenic training is very popular in Germany. But I never felt that this is what I was looking for.
A year, or two later my daughter developed a chronic headache disease, and we started a long journey of seeing different doctors, going to hospitals and trying all treatments available for her condition. During that time not only, she needed to learn to live with a condition where there is no cure for but also, I had to learn to live with a chronic ill child and to care for her.
During this time, I was looking for ways for her to cope with her condition and more importantly to enjoy the time when she is free of pain and isn’t worrying when the next attack would come. This was when I stumbled over mindfulness. I found an 8-week Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) training near us and signed up for that.
Practicing mindfulness and meditation changed me a lot. Of course I am still the same person, but I feel a lot better about the whole situation and also about myself. It is so much easier to recognise my needs and difficulties that, most of the time, I manage to not step into the vicious cycle of feeling not doing enough, doing more and still feeling it’s not enough. I can sit with my emotions and thoughts, whether they are good or bad, and don’t have to identify myself with them.
I think that this skill set of not letting thoughts and emotions controlling your entire physical and mental health is so important that I’ve decided to become a MBSR trainer myself. I then certified with the CVM (Centrum voor Mindfulness) in Amsterdam, and train people in what I am really passionate about.