The benefits of my disability part 2

Please take a look at the “about” page to see the circumstances that have encouraged me to start blogging again.

Have you ever had that dream when you try to run but your legs won’t move? Just after taking the “geometry” photographs that you can see in my previous post, I had that experience for real –

Green Buddha
Green Buddha (© Miles Pilling)

One of the ways being mindful helps me deal with Primary Lateral Sclerosis is by helping me pace my activities.

This is something I learnt to do on the eight week Mindfulness for Health course. I now know that even with regular stops, using crutches and walking as slowly as I do, if I walk for too long I will suffer for days afterwards. So, after taking the geometry photographs, I reached for the pocket of my bag where my phone was to see if I needed to head back.

But my phone wasn’t there.

With an adrenaline rush, I remembered I had taken it out of my bag before leaving home, and it was now clearly on show in the front of my car. “Bloody idiot. It will already have been stolen” went the judgmental, catastrophizing mind as my body braced itself to hurry back to the disaster scene. But then I stopped dead. I couldn’t rush back because my legs just don’t move like that anymore.

3 years ago, I would have run back to the car in a few minutes with my heart pounding. The present reality was that I had a ten to fifteen minute slow, possibly painful, shuffling walk ahead of me. Small amounts of tension make my muscles spasm. When this happens, it’s very painful to walk. If I forced my legs to move faster than tortoise speed, they would cramp up, quite possibly pulling muscles and leaving me with days of pain ahead.

In my thoughts the phone was already gone, but the reality was I had no idea if it was even that visible to passers-by. I couldn’t rush, so I stopped, followed my breathing and made the conscious decision to walk mindfully back to the car.

When I got there the images of glass strewn pavement my mind had been projecting were just that: projected fantasy. The phone was safely where I’d unmindfully left it.

My disability had forced me to confront a lesson we were taught on the Breathworks, Mindfulness for Health course: “Thoughts are not facts. Even ones that say they are”. Because I have to do things slowly, I was able to respond mindfully rather than react unskillfully to those fictional catastrophizing thoughts.

The following day, I didn’t venture any further than my back garden. The picture at the top of this post is of our garden Buddha statue taken through very out of focus garden greenery. Hope you like it.

Words and pictures © Miles Pilling
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2 comments on “The benefits of my disability part 2

  1. Hi Miles, mindfulness is definitely the way. I am so happy that it is helping you to really enjoy a good quality life experience ( despite the difficulties that you are obviously facing). The practice of mindfulness, meditation and yoga have really helped and continue to support me in life.

    I will follow your blog with interest, your words are inspirational. thank you for sharing.

    Beth Cooney (ex BBC)

    • Thanks Beth
      Lovely to hear from you. Yes mindfulness is quite life changing isn’t it. Funny but you don’t appreciate how until you actually practice it.

      Thanks for your kind words.
      Miles

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