Wellbeing notes: tiny plant, giant teachings

03/05/2021 at 10:12 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments
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One regular walk takes me over the old canal bridge. I passed over it not so long ago and took a photo of a tiny clump of moss that grows there. Small details from nature such as moss make for excellent meditation subjects. You can give yourself a few minutes of quiet, close your eyes and imagine the tiny plant in sensory detail: the green, textured cushion; the slender stalks supporting spore capsules no bigger than a grain of rice. 

When you notice that your mind has wandered, you simply remind yourself that you are here to meditate, and you focus again on your chosen subject – in this case, the moss.

We meditate in this way to pause the relentless chatter of our thoughts. It’s impossible to empty the mind completely; focusing on one subject is the next best thing. Doing this regularly can help us become calmer and less stressed. We can become more self-aware and may enjoy physical benefits, such as better sleep and decreased blood pressure. 

Yesterday I returned to the bridge. I was taking a longer walk than usual and although I did pause to take in the view, I hurried on towards my destination. It wasn’t until I got home that I realised I hadn’t even noticed the moss that grows on the bridge. And I realised a simple truth: what we focus on is what we see.

My invitation to you is to choose mindfully what you focus on today. 

From brain surgery to book publishing in just seven weeks

11/02/2020 at 3:09 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Comments
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The universe has given me a major challenge recently. In the first week of January I underwent 10 hours of neurosurgery to remove a benign brain tumour – an acoustic neuroma. In the last week of February my new book, ‘This One is Special’, will be published. It’s a challenge because post-op I’ve had to relearn everything from walking to writing by hand. Book signings are a wobbly prospect!

I’m thrilled that this story of parenting my profoundly disabled son is about to be more widely shared. I’m relieved that a personal health condition that has dogged me for a decade or more has finally been sorted. And maybe the two events together are teaching me a valuable lesson.

The lesson is that we are not meant to struggle on alone. Over the past few weeks there has been a huge team of surgeons, anaesthetists, nurses, therapists and other medical staff helping me to better health. I feel deeply grateful to them all – and to the family and friends who have supported me throughout.

As a parent-carer of a young person with profound and multiple learning disabilities I know that statistically I’m a candidate for greater stress and ill health.

No one knows why I developed a tumour. It happened very slowly, rather like the pearl in an oyster grows incrementally in smooth layers around a grain of sand or some other irritant. Maybe it was genetic, or just ‘one of those things’. I choose to believe that it was my personal reminder that illness doesn’t discriminate – we are all candidates for something.

In my family, Tim has been ‘the poorly one’. He is the one who has spent over 100 days in intensive care, and has had investigations in a bewildering number of hospitals. Maybe it’s someone else’s turn. If so, I’m not sorry it’s been me. Brain surgery has consequences that mean I’ll never be the same. I still feel as wobbly as a foal. But compared with Tim’s experiences of critical illness, my surgery has honestly not been that bad, as I hope you can tell from the pic below, taken just five days after the event. Here’s to a healthy 2020!

You can pre-order ‘This One is Special’ here.

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