Some time ago I was driving into work and I noticed the left side of my face felt numb. In fact, as I sit and write this sentence, I can feel it going numb again – my brain has remembered! It’s ok, it will be gone by the time I’m finished writing.
As I pulled into the car park at work the sensation felt stronger. I parked my and went into my office and physically touched my face. It felt a little different, although I could feel hot and cold sensation there were dulled compared to the other side. I could hear, see, swallow and speak and my fascial muscles and arms and legs were all working fine, so I didn’t feel that I needed to see my Doctor, or better still to pop into the Neurologists office two doors down.
The numb feeling stayed for the day but by the time I was home in the evening the sensation had gone and my face felt normal again.
The next day the same thing happened.
I had been experiencing stress at work for some time. I had been exercising regularly and was using three minute meditation app to try and help, and it had but clearly not enough.
I had read plenty of books about mindfulness and mediation and reams of research papers about the neuroscience of pain, stress and anxiety and the benefits of mindfulness and relaxation techniques. I paid lip service to these commonly known helpful techniques to patients experiencing any kind of persistent pain, stress or anxieties but struggled to commit myself to following what I had read and learned.
I had been meaning to attend a mindfulness workshop or ‘learn the art’ of mediation in order to absorb it a bit more but I always had the age-old excuse of, ‘I just don’t have time’. I have always been a ‘doer’, squeezing every minute out of the day for something else and always burning the candle at both ends. Sitting down and just ‘being’, just did not feel right for me.
But my numb face didn’t feel right either, this was my warning sign. I knew that I learned best from a personal tutor, because that way I would commit to the process. I had already had recommendations from friends who professed how meditation had helped them through challenging times. One phone call later I was booked onto a course...the following week, too easy! This was a one-on-one 2-hour course for 4 nights. This seemed like a lot of time for me, but it was needed to start instilling the habit of twice daily 20-minute meditations.
Within a week my face numbness had gone, and I certainly felt calmer. I would still easily feel like I was getting stressed, but I could take myself back to my mantra (a simple word that is just a sound) to ground me, like an anchor holding a ship steady in a heavy sea.
I have been practising meditation now for some time. It has made a significant difference to my life. I still get stressed, don’t we all, but my expression of stress is reduced. I have better clarity of thought and I am more productive. Most importantly, my children notice they have a happier mother.
I confess to not managing to have sustained 20mins twice a day every day, but I will meditate at least, in some small way, every day. Alas, I have not yet turned into superwoman or the typical image of a ‘being’ embraced by Zen. I am on a journey, a daily intention of becoming a better, calmer ‘being’ and to be able to give my best to those I work, live and play with.
For me, this is the way.