George Jelinek reveals that, despite overcoming MS for 18 years, even he finds himself losing his self-care radar sometimes.

Many people think of experienced OMSers and meditators as somehow completely having things together and that they never suffer the difficulties of the average person with MS... If only!

Being mindful of my self-care

I am approaching the end of my 18th year of overcoming MS and, despite being symptom-free and pretty relaxed and grounded most of the time, like everybody, I find that I lose my self-care radar from time to time.

Life can be so good and the opportunities so exhilarating that the temptation to do more and more can just snowball. So I've been taking on more and bigger projects, because it's such an adventure!

But then one day you wake up at 4 am and realize that your mind is actively going over half a dozen different things simultaneously and that there is no way that you will get back to sleep. Letting go... simply letting go... just doesn't work. Focusing the attention on the breathing... but in seconds it's back to problem-solving, weighing up pros and cons, examining alternative strategies, even working out budgets! And then of course, even for someone who has had very stable good health for a long time, that little part of the mind raises its head. You know that stress and lack of sleep is harmful.... what if it triggers a relapse? One would have thought that these sorts of mental gymnastics were long gone for me, but like everybody else, I have a mind that just loves to range around the place and jabber like a mad monkey! Monkey lost self-care radar

The practise of letting go

So what to do when the inevitable arises? Well it sounds easy, but often it is not. Get back to basics; re-visit the concept of accepting difficulties without resistance, practice letting go, observe the thoughts rather than jump on the train, meditate more, take some time off.... and so on.

For me, this meant doing a 45 minute meditation this morning instead of 30 and repeating that tonight. It meant directly addressing one or two of the seemingly insoluble issues in front of me by starting to actively do something about them rather than just let them run around and around in my head.

And of course, reconnecting with my senses and nature, being observant on the walk to work rather than lost in thought, noticing my bodily sensations more, listening to the birds.

And reminding myself where work sits in the context of my life, as inspirational people like Shannon Harvey remind us. But above all, to accept these things as quintessentially human. That we all find ourselves here from time to time. And that with patience, acceptance and compassion towards ourselves, we regain our calm and our balance.

George Jelinek 

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