"You must be the change you wish to see in the world" ~ Mahatma Gandhi
On a late sunny afternoon October 2nd 2014, I skipped out of my new Doctor's surgery feeling like a teenager. Having just received the news about my present state of health, I had every reason to radiate joyfulness and exhibit my delight and gratitude.
It was only four years previous that I had been regularly consuming two bottles of wine and happily mixing the alcohol with prescribed Prozac pills, eating a fast food diet like it was going out of fashion and living a stress fuelled life style. All the necessary ingredients which could have served me with numerous illnesses, including diabetes, a stroke, or heart attack.
So what had changed over the past few years for my midlife MOT to come back with such miraculous results? Apart from curtailing the obvious unhealthy habits, which somehow escalated from 'moderation' to 'excessive' during late 2009 and 2010, there have also been a number of other important factors that I would like to share with you.
1) I am no longer working for a company, or manager that was so target driven they gave very little concern for the well being and efforts of their work force. Where goal-posts and roles were changed frequently to supposedly stop any complacency within the team, again without any regard or thought for staff morale or welfare.
For months leading up to my redundancy I had strived to achieve their targets successfully, whilst at the same time sitting until the early hours completing monthly, weekly and daily reports, creating spread sheets and other reporting nonsense in order to keep a self-important boss smiling. Never once did I question my health, fatigue, or increasing stress levels.
Through my deteriorating ill health I finally accepted redundancy in March 2010, but for quite some time after, I believed my world had potentially come to an end. I failed to see beyond the competitive, results focused life style which had driven me for so long. Adding to my anxieties had been my own financial problems, though I realise now this was all sewn into the manner of living I had grown accustomed and believed was somehow the curator of happiness.
2) I have reconnected with childhood passions that were replaced by the pursuit of possessions and the only steps that I will take in my career, are the ones that feel right in my heart. It's not easy to be our authentic selves in a world where becoming second in a race is never quite good enough. Where it is instilled that being the best and having the most should be ranked on top of a list of goals. Where we have pillars of society glorified for their abundance of wealth, properties and material goods, whilst others are shamed and ridiculed for their lack. But how many winners can there be and how many losers suffer because of this increasing results driven mentality?
From a babe in arms we are taught and encouraged by the society we live in to take on this fear based thought process. Handed down via parents, families and schools, until puberty when we fall into the arms of the power-hungry corporate businesses, using their media marketers.
What a difference the world would be, if we believed failure is not to be feared but only to be learned from. And what a difference the world would be, if we listened to our inner soul instead of constantly seeking to impress others through possessions, status and wealth.
3) Becoming vegetarian was an easy choice for me to make. Red meat has been off the menu for quite some years, but my decision eight months ago to cut out all meat products has brought about some interesting results. My choice was largely fuelled by concerns for the increasing cruelty and lack of compassion continually being exposed in mass production and factory farming. My vitality and health in making this decision has certainly benefited, whilst meal times have become wonderfully varied and a lot less bland. Shopping-lists, shopping and cooking is now a pleasantly mindful experience, as opposed to simply being a habitual chore.
4) Daily mindfulness and meditation have certainly found their place with me. Since May 2012 I have been determined that both these practices, along with walking and exercise play a key role in enhancing my well being. From twenty minutes meditation twice daily and regular breath awareness, I have not only felt the amazing benefits within my mind and body, but I have also received testament to their powerful effects. My midlife MOT was the clearest indicator that what you give, you receive and not only to others, but to yourself too!
"God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference" ~ Reinhold Neibuhr