It’s one thing to read about mindfulness, but clearly another when tested … to put it into practice …. under difficult situations.
The week before Christmas was my test in caring for my elder and frail father who was transported by ambulance at midnight from one hospital to another two hours away. I followed the ambulance in my car not knowing what would happen. He had two vascular surgeries in hopes of preventing loss of his toes and possibly his feet. Those were long days and nights for me with him. I was relieved for a day and half by another brother, and then back I went to the hospital two hours away to stay with him for three days.
The Sunday before Christmas I was to return to the hospital. In the morning I wrote in my diary the following passage in preparation of being with my father:
“Dear God, help me to see this time as a loving time with my father, never to happen again. Help me to be present to his suffering and fears without myself being buried by it. Pace myself, take breaks, find quiet time and exercise so that I may have energy to withstand and respond to what life will place at my feet.”
My practice of mindfulness was integrated into those three days. It didn’t happen because I read about these mindful practices. It happened because I’ve made these practices a part of my daily living
- conscious of finding quiet time,
- mindful meditation of focusing on my breath,
- acceptance of things I have little control over,
- self-aware of my anxiety so that I respond with loving intention rather than reaction driven by judgment,
- swim every other day, and
- trying to focus on one thing at a time, to be in the moment.
I was deeply tired upon my return home two days before Christmas. But, I was grateful for the time I was with my father. I felt no remorse for those days with him which were not what I hoped for nor expected. I recognized then that I had received a gift, and it wasn’t a present to be found under a tree.