Meditation, motivation and a mountain!
So it’s been a while! Over a couple of months in fact - I’ve been so busy with work and life. Aren’t we all though, I hear you say!
I told you I was going to do a few challenges and get myself fit. And indeed I did! I only climbed up Snowdon!
It was horrendous and beautiful at the same time. I’ve walked up Snowdon along the Llanberis track (the easy route!) a few years ago and didn’t find it too taxing. I was a bit lighter back then ;) This time I went up the Pygs track and back down along the Miners track.
The morning of the walk was probably the wettest of the year L. I actually questioned whether it was wise to even get out of the car at Pen y Pass let alone start walking up Snowdon. However the car park was full so others were venturing up and I wasn’t giving up before starting, that was for sure!
The Pygs track is in fact the shortest walking route up Snowdon, but certainly isn’t the easiest. It is steep and rocky and requires the use of your hands in several places! The torrential rain beating in my face, poor vision and the slippery surface made it challenging to say the least . At certain points, I felt as if I couldn’t carry on - I was soaking wet, freezing cold and couldn't see the peak at all. Every now and again the rain would subside and I would stop to appreciate the view and the vastness of the mountain range. This is what made it all worth while. It’s truly breathtaking and humbling. After several words of encouragement, I reached the top and it was such a wonderful feeling of pride and achievement. Coming back down the Pygs track and joining the Miners track, I really just wanted to get back down and have a coffee and a bite to eat! The thing about Snowdon for me is that it pulls at all your emotions. When you are completely fed up, you turn a corner and see the most beautiful view. I reached lake Glaslyn, took a breather and appreciated my surroundings and felt so lucky .
On the exercise front, I absolutely love it! It has become something I look forward to and I haven’t missed a single class since I started. I’m certainly fitter and stronger than before - but much more than this, I’m happier. It has given me a new found lease of life. Although I never felt lonely as such before, maybe, if truth be known, I was stuck in a rut and had isolated myself into a routine that I thought I couldn’t change. The classes are sociable and fun and I always feel proud and energized when I leave. It gives me a buzz and a headspace that I never thought it would. They say that exercising is good for the mind and I really believe this to be true. Looking back, evenings were always spent attending my children’s activities and doing chores - like all parents I’m sure. Having an hour out of this routine three times a week has made me think of me again (although my boys come with me, and go into the computer room to wait for me!). It may sound selfish but I think it makes me a better mum and also teaches the boys that everyone deserves time out. I’ve met new people from different walks of life and everyone is so, so lovely. I try my best and Julie, the instructor, is dedicated, knowledgeable, warm and friendly. I forgot to mention I also laugh a lot!
I do feel blessed that I was able to change my routine by making the decision to change it. I also know that for unpaid carers it’s not quite as simple. However, the Social Services and Wellbeing (
) Act 2014 should be making it easier for carers to ensure their own personal wellbeing outcomes are achieved. ** I believe strongly that we should all consider our own wellbeing from time to time, instead of always putting others first. Wales
In October, I also took it upon myself to exercise my mind! I’ve had an interest in mindfulness for quite a long time and have tried to meditate mindfully on more than one occasion. For those of you who think it’s a load of rubbish, perhaps a good read for you would be ‘Mindfulness for the Frazzled’ by Ruby Wax. Here’s an extract just to give you an insight.
“When you use mindfulness, you learn to accept things the way they are without trying to change them. It is the gateway to the ‘shit happens’ school of enlightenment. Everyone wants things to be better, but they mostly aren’t, so what are you going to do about it? Have a hissy fit? This is a hard one to swallow, but swallow it you must if you want to go to sleep at night. As the observer, you witness the good, the bad and the ugly without giving a running commentary on whether you like what you’re seeing or not. Once you start doing that, you’ve lost your seat on the sidelines and will be sucked back into the crossfire of words.
Here’s a little metaphor to help you understand your thoughts. Picture your mind as a bottle of clear water with sand at the bottom. When it’s agitated by thoughts or feelings, it’s as if you’ve shaken the bottle: the sand disperses and the water is now murky. When you hold the bottle still, the sand settles, just as your mind settles when you watch thoughts rather than reacting to them. As I said, you can’t think your way out of an emotional problem; the effort it takes to find out why you feel the way you feel always makes things worse. It’s like being trapped in quicksand: the more you struggle to get out of it, the deeper you sink. You have to accept that you can’t stop the thoughts, but you can stop what happens next.”
I think everyone can relate to this. We sometimes go through life at a 100mph because that’s the only way to cope. I do this and when it’s time for my body and mind to calm down, usually at night, I have a hundred things rushing through my head and my to do list gets longer as the night gets darker. In October I made a mindful decision to meditate every night and I stuck to it every night. It’s much harder than you think. Thinking about nothing is hard. Concentrating on one thing is hard. Mindfulness meditation isn’t easy but it’s good for you. Just as I’ve been exercising my body in the fitness classes, meditation has been the gym for my brain.
I’d also read that it’s really good for kids (in the same way as it is for adults), contributing to reduced stress, improved sleep quality and heightened focus. I asked my youngest to give it a go with me one night. and at the age of 9, he wasn’t buying into it and talked all the way through!! It made me think that it should be introduced to them in the classroom in a way that they are so unaware that they’re doing it and I know of certain schools that do this with great success.
I urge you all to give it a go. The beauty of meditation is that it’s free, can be done anywhere and can be achieved in 10 minutes a day, everyday. This lifestyle change doesn’t require much and therefore I would go as far as to say that anyone, really anyone can do this.
So I hear you ask, do I look any different? - not in the mirror perhaps!! The healthy eating is proving to be more challenging! I have been eating relatively healthily but I definitely haven’t nailed my diet. As they say you can’t out train a bad diet! The office is such a bad place for me, eating wise! It’s so commonplace now to reward ourselves with food. We certainly do it in the office. If it’s been a particular stressful week, someone will bring in cake, if it’s Friday someone will bring in cake, if it’s payday, we may have cake!!! On the weekend, after a long week, we feel that we deserve a treat. I’m slowly and not very successfully trying to change my mindset. I’m also a bit scared that Christmas is upon us, another reason to eat too much.
Me at the beginning!
Me at the end of October!
All in all, I’m glad I’ve started my journey and I think I was silly to give myself only 6 months to do this!!! What I have taken from this experience so far is that the changes I’ve made, I want to keep. I think this is why I’m struggling more with the diet aspect. I don’t want to do another fad diet. I want to change my eating habits for the better but I want the changes to be ones that I will incorporate into my daily life long term and therefore must be sustainable.
My friend told me yesterday, you’re more joyful these days; you’ve got your sparkle back. That was a much nicer compliment to me than if she had said you look good in your size 8 jeans! Not that I am a size 8 by the way, in case you were wondering J
**Social Services and Wellbeing (
) Act 2014 recognises that carers undertake a voluntarily role and and now have the same legal rights and privileges as those they care for. Wales
New duties have also been introduced by the SSWA 2014 and local authorities are required to offer to offer assessments and services to meet the needs of carers, if the person ‘may’ have a need for care and/or support. Such assessment must include
How able and willing the carer is to provide care.
What personal and wellbeing outcomes a carer wants to achieve.
Whether providing support could contribute to those outcomes
Whether the carer wishes to work and whether they would like to participate in education, training, or leisure activities
Please contact Carers Outreach Service on 01248 370797 for further information.