Chris: In our mindless rat race, overtime, I have lost sight of what I really wanted in life. Stress and pressure were like adrenaline rush pushing me to do more and more. I just wanted to achieve as much as possible in the shortest time frame. The question is, to achieve what, and for whom? I was always in a hurry, irritable, and impatient. Finally my body gave up. I was hospitalised for a week. That was a wake up call. It started me on a journey to better care for myself. Eventually, I quit to join my then girlfriend who was working in Japan. I have been ‘unemployed’ ever since. But never been happier. I now realise what I want in life is very simple - to be healthy, happy, and to bring love and joy to those important to me, amid with a certain level of material comfort. However, there is something still missing. Maybe it was the years of stress that altered my brain, or maybe I was born like this, no matter what I do, however hard I try, my mind is always churning, ruminating with endless self conversation. My anxiety which I had always thought to be normal simple nervousness was causing my medical condition to flare up. It was also wreaking havoc with my brain and my ability to handle situations. I was introduced to breathing exercises and daily morning walks which really helped. It piqued my interest for a more comprehensive formal system which I found in MBSR. Amongst the many types of mediation, I preferred MBSR for its secular based approach backed by firm scientific basis. It seemed like a perfect fit, the last piece of the puzzle in my pursuit for happiness.
MiMo: Tell us about your experience in the MBSR program.
Chris: It was a great learning journey. I was looking forward to our weekly session and the 1 day silent retreat was especially beneficial. After each session I felt recharged and calm at the same time. It was a great way to end the week and start the next. Erin was very supportive and knowledgable, providing a safe and comfortable environment for us to share and express any concerns or queries. Each session moved according to our pace, never too rush, never too slow.
MiMo: How has mindfulness contributed to your personal well-being?
Chris: I feel more calm, less anger, less anxiety, and perhaps most importantly, I am able to better control, sometimes even stop, the endless ruminating thoughts/conversations in my mind. I feel a lot more in control of my thoughts and emotions. I’ve learnt and realise how I can either allow myself to be upset and angry, and then exhausted, or to simply notice the antagoniser and not engage it or allow it to affect my emotions. I think one of the few more immediately obvious example, for me, is when I am driving, I am no longer as bothered by all the impatient inconsiderate drivers on our roads. I’ve learnt to let it be and not engage it and allow them to affect me. Driving has become a lot more peaceful.
MiMo: How has mindfulness supported you in your professional work?
Chris: I have chosen a very different path from many others. Being different brings about many self-doubts. Did I make the right choice, am I on the right path, will I regret later. All these doubts are further amplified when my peers have all progressed so much, climbed the ladder so high. It is not so much of envy, but the fear of regretting, especially when it is increasingly becoming too late to turn back. All these self doubts take precious time away, it affects my concentration, lowers my productivity. With mindfulness, I am better aware of what my mind is up to, and how I should handle it. The various exercises I’ve learnt are very useful in bringing my focus back to the present. Now, when I am tired, distracted, procrastinating, or simply just bored, I try to either do a short sitting or movement exercise. It helps to reset and refresh my mind.
MiMo: How have you incorporated mindfulness into your daily life?
Chris: I am slowly making mindfulness a part of my life and routine. I try to start and end my day with a sitting exercise. During the day, when I sit too long in front of the computer, I try to incorporate mindfulness into simple yoga stretching exercises to loosen up a bit. Whenever I am tired, stressed or anxious, I will do a short sitting exercise. I try to squeeze in some form of mindfulness whenever possible, like when I am walking or when I am on the bus. The only mindfulness practice I still have problem doing is mindful eating. That is still a bit of a challenge for me.
MiMo: Any words of advice for people who are thinking about learning mindfulness?
Chris: I would say give it a try with an open mind. Some might accept everything without any problem, others might have many questions. For me, I have many questions for which I am slowly seeking answers for. Having questions is not a bad thing. It merely signifies the start of your journey into mindfulness and meditation. I started wanting to learn how to meditate using the MBSR approach, along the way many questions came about. Erin patiently explained as much as she could. There are still many areas I do not quite understand. Truth is, the course might not be able to answer all your questions. I don’t think it is meant to do that. It is merely to start you on a journey and equip you with the questions which with practice and time, one will hopefully find the answers.
In servitude as Chauffeur, Personal Chef, Nutritionist, House-keeper, Holiday-planner and Investment Consultant to my wife. In between down time, I try to make some spending money trading the market, and selling stock photos since I do not get much allowance. When time permits, I revert to my primal self - nua-ing (lazing around) and stoning. I can be found staring into blank space almost anywhere. Now I will do it mindfully.