I just wanted to drop in and share something with you that has been phenomenally important to me living with MS.
I have SPMS, diagnosed about 5 years ago, but realistically going on for about 8 years. Back then, at the time of diagnosis, I was frantically trying to ‘do’ something in the face of this seemingly all-powerful monster. I started the George Jelinek program for people with MS (you may be aware of it). I started implementing his lifestyle changes: diet first, then exercise. As I integrated these into my life, I set about the next lifestyle change that was something completely alien to me: meditation. I had absolutely no idea what meditation was about, so I picked up a book that was recommended to me: 'Wherever You Go, There You Are," by Jon Kabat-Zinn. This book changed everything. Jon Kabat-Zinn is the person who brought mindfulness meditation to the west.
As I was reading the book, it all seemed to make so much sense to me, so I started meditating. It was really patchy and sporadic at first, but after a while I noticed that I wasn’t feeling so angst-ridden and fearful as I was before. At this point I knuckled down some more, and made my practice more consistent: 30 minutes every day. The benefits just built and built from there. It’s an amazing thing; it really is. Ironically, the self-wisdom that mindfulness brought about in me made me realise that the strict diet was not something that I could sustain and be happy at the same time, so I ditched it.
I still have MS of course, and that is never going to change. Each day brings with it various difficulties, as I’m sure you are aware of, but my whole attitude to life has completely changed. The difficulties are so much easier to handle now that I have trained my mind to work differently with meditation. Mindfulness has got me functioning so much better as a human being, that I have managed to make a return to work (looking dodgy at one stage) and sustain that for three years (so far). I am just starting to use a wheelchair, but I’ll eat my hat if the progression hasn’t been slowed by the reduction in stress levels that I’ve seen.
I’ve been so moved by mindfulness that I have started a website about it.
There is also a Twitter account that goes with it, which is doing quite well:
Come along and take a look. There is a forum attached to the site where you can ask questions about mindfulness; you can always find me lurking there.
Thank you for listening. I hope that MS is treating you well today.