A short while ago I opened an opportunity for people to send me stories of mindfulness that can show the rest of us how it has had a practical impact on a particular event or their lives. I’m calling this column of Mindfulness and Psychotherapy, “Voices.”
A number of people wrote in with stories. If you have a story, continue to writing in and as long as there are good stories that teach the rest of us how mindfulness can work in our lives, I will choose from them from time to time to post on Mindfulness and Psychotherapy.
Of course those that get chosen can also send me a link that I’ll include in the post where people can learn more about them.
Here’s a truly touching story of mindfulness, grief, courage and healing by Mimi Handlin, MSW, Senior Certified ADHD Coach:
Here is a story about how mindfulness helped me heal long lasting grief. About twenty years ago, my husband went through intense chemotherapy for acute leukemia. At the time, I was pregnant with twins and had a 3 year old son. Many times, for various reasons, I would have to pack my son into his car seat and drive my husband to the emergency room where he was getting treatment. The ER waiting room had a big fish tank, lots of children’s books and my son, in his innocence, liked going there. He called the place “Daddy’s hospital.” A few weeks after our twins were born, my husband passed away.
Now my son is an adult in his early twenties. A few years ago, he developed an infection and the consulting nurse told him to go to the ER. It happened to be in that same hospital where my family spent so many hours. My son was in no condition to drive so, with trepidation, I told him I’d take him. I hadn’t been back to the hospital or even that neighborhood since my husband died.
When I walked into the ER, my heart sank. Everything looked exactly as it had twenty years ago, even the fish tank and the basket of books. While waiting for my son, I found myself feeling panicky – afraid of the pain I was sure I was going to feel. My first inclination was to leave and walk around the block. Or wait in the car. Or call someone on my cell phone.
Instead, as I had just finished an 8-week Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) course, I chose to sit and just focus on my breathing. To stay in that moment and allow whatever was going to happen, breath by breath. As I tried to relax, I looked into the open door that led to the exam rooms. With no effort or intention, I saw a clear image of my husband following a nurse down that hallway. I just kept breathing and then saw my son as a three year old, pointing at the fish. I felt the solidness of him in my arms, in his OshKosh B’Gosh overalls that I hadn’t thought about in years. I felt the coolness of the buckle as it brushed against my cheek.
As I let the images flow, I realized that there was no pain. Instead, there were feelings of warmth and fondness. I found myself almost reaching for the memories. It was such a surprise! If I had left that ER out of fear and assumptions, I would never have had the opportunity to experience what was real – a deep and final healing.
When we can learn how to “be with” the pain that’s there, life can surprise us. Thank you Mimi.
As always, please share your thoughts, stories and questions below. Your interaction creates a living wisdom for us all to benefit from.