You don’t get to choose how you’re going to die. Or when. You can decide how you’re going to live now.
Joan Baez
OMG. So true.  I know how precious every single moment is, and knew then, ever since after my car accident, that left me with a severe traumatic brain injury.  At any second, everything could change- so we need to live life to the fullest every moment that we have.  Why spend another day at a job that you drives you crazy while you could be actively looking for a new one?  [But I’m not looking, I’m taking a little “sabbatical” from work while I figure out what it is that I’d like to do]  Why hang out with ‘toxic friends’ that influence and contribute to bad behavior?  Why live in a dangerous neighborhood, in a house that you do not especially like?  [I wrote the previous before I attended a ‘Trauma talk’ group today at Fairfax Hospital speaking on Mindfulness, to help reduce anxiety.]
 MINDFULNESS is the practice of being in the present, the practice of getting yourself centered by setting yout intention for the day, what you are trying to accomplish and thinking about the world around you, what is happening NOW.  Focusing on these things also improve your ability to interact socially with other people.  For example, today my husband and I went to a girl’s house that I met through my support group for a cookout.  I was nervous, not knowing anyone else there, and ate too many gummy bears.  By listening to my breath and calming down, I could have felt alot less stress in the whole situation, allowing me to more socially competent, and to enjoy the afternoon stress-free.  I had a great time there anyway, meeting new people and playing with the adorable dogs, eating delicious pulled chicken with a few too many cupcakes and the first football game of the season. [Sorry, Redskins, maybe we can get a win next time]***
Back to the meditation… Most often this type of meditation is practiced in yoga, the clearing of the clutter in the mind, in order to get yourself centered.  Forgetting the negative self talk that we so often tell ourselves in our head.  Getting away from the “would have, should have, could have” way of thinking; my Dad used to say “Woulda, shoulda, coulda, woulda ain’t never done nothing.”  Which is a way of saying don’t dwell on past, (which we so often do, and often wishing we could change our past).  And mindfulness is not thinking about the future, and what COULD POSSIBLY happen.  It’s going to happen anyway, no matter if we upset ourselves about it or not.***
Mindfulness is about keeping your mindset in the present; the past is behind you, why dwell?  The future will inevitably happen, why worry?  Instead, concentrate on the present, and how you can accept what is happening looking at the situation objectively and hopefully positively.  Mindfulness is simply a thought process used to calm a person down, and not a religion.  Although it is practiced in Hinduism, mindfulness was around long before that religion originated.  Hinduism practices yoga to an extreme, in which they believe that there is nothing but the present, the here and now.***
Mindfulness teaches us that we should be fully in the present, appreciating every moment that we have right now.  You never know how everything will turn out.  Your life could change in the blink of an eye.  When I was 16, I thought everything was great.  I was a cheerleader, ending the year of lifeguarding at the pool, and my biggest concern was what I was going out to do that Saturday night.  Little did I know that everything would change drastically in just a second.  I didn’t appreciate what I had until I didn’t have it anymore.  In just a split second, my entire life had changed.  Thank God I don’t remember the details of the car accident that morning (I don’t really remember anything for the next 2 months).  The car accident that I was in has left me with a Traumatic Brain Injury requiring me how to learn EVERYTHING all over again.  That Saturday morning, I was just trying to pull off my back handspring, and when I awoke from my coma, I was trying to strengthen my muscles to sit up in bed.  I didn’t appreciate the freedom I had before, the freedom to get around by myself, being independant, and I certainly didn’t appreciate the simple things like standing up.***
I could tumble (just barely), run around, jump, all while being captain of one of my cheerleading squads.  I could remember the words to cheers, I could remember formations and the stunts for my all-star squad, and in a blink I couldn’t do any of that.  I took advantage of being able to walk, write and read even being able to apply chapstick to my lips.  I recognized people, I just couldn’t remember the details (or I had a selective memory).  I even took advantage of my memory.  One thing that most people would not think a second about- most people except the ones who have had a TBI.***
Life is not a given.  You can’t be sure of what tomorrow holds. So appreciate the now and what you  do have currently.  In this moment, work on being in the present and appreciating everything, before you don’t have it anymore.   We need to be aware of your surroundings, and to be thankful for the blessings that are bestowed on our backs and the experiences that we are going through in the now- even if they are not the best experiences.  Try to learn from the hard times and be thankful for all the traffic on the road for teaching you patience, instead of getting frustrated and honking your horn.  I have learned to even thank God for having this car accident happen to me.  [Ironic, I know] Without this awful car accident, I would not have turned into the person I am today.  And I like the person I am today.  This car accident has taught me patience and compassion for interacting with other people; I remember how difficult it was to do everything quickly or even correctly.
Mindfulness, like yoga, meditation and the act of being is simply a state of mind.  And isn’t it all just a state of mind??

About Danielle!

A young professional Longwood University alum, with a traumatic brain injury having previously worked in the Therapeutic Recreation field with the elderly at nursing homes in Fairfax, VA. Now as a TBI advocate, trying to help others learn more about TBIs is involved in support groups, as well as very involved in my church, child care, and working part-time at a library
This entry was posted in inner reflection, Traumatic Brain Injury, yoga and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Mindfulness

  1. Danielle, this is very insightful thanks for sharing! I too have a traumatic brain injury due to a stroke, and have found mindfulness to be essential in furthering my recovery. Check out the article I wrote about mindfulness, http://fightstroke.com/mindfulnessmeditation/

  2. Pingback: Giving up | Inside Danielle's mind

  3. Pingback: People pleaser | Inside Danielle's mind

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