“You need heart valve surgery.” “What??!!”
Life is full of surprises and this was one I’d prefer to skip. I hadn’t expected to hear my lifelong prolapsed mitral valve now required surgery. Ok… I knew it was inevitable but after years (and years) of A-ok’s I got seduced into thinking my dedication to health and fitness would somehow spare me.
My Cardiologist delivered the news factually (supported by data), in a direct no nonsense way, “we have to fix this now” ending with…..“Do you have any questions?” “Ahhh……nooo?” I say. Of course the questions had begun and started to breed and multiply as soon as he left the room.
By the next day…well… where do I start? It took almost a week to digest the news. Then the big one…how will I approach this? I saw 2 options… 1) fearfully (which is how I was feeling) react to things only as they happen, think (maybe) this will go away, adopt an attitude of what I don’t know can’t hurt me or 2) fearlessly say thank you and see it as an opportunity to grow, strengthen and evolve.
I consider the options, decide 2) fearlessly and take a deep breath.
When I look at myself I see a classic Type A — energetic, get-stuff-done kinda’ gal. It would be gold star material if it wasn’t well documented that Type A behavior does not encourage longevity. On top of that my mind is always active, leaving little space for true peace and in stressful situations I’m a breath holder which triggers the body’s fight or flight response and produces anxiety. These are distinct challenges for option 2!
I can see the first piece of business is to still and quiet the mind which is currently multi-tasking. Second thing is to learn to breathe. It strikes me that this may also be an opportunity to ASK-for-help since I’m in totally foreign territory.
I’ve tried meditation before but my list making, thought generating mind has always run the show. This time it’s different I want and need the peace and calm it can bring to mind and body. I ASK-for-help from meditating friends (easier than I thought) and was immediately cocooned in love and showered with amazing resources to create a daily meditation program. I was blessed.
Today, I’m 2 months into my plan for Fearlessly Dealing with Curve Ball and happy to say…I’m getting it! I can settle into long, slow meditative breathing and feel a sense of centeredness and calm. I’m encouraged.
Here’s the biggest surprise …the fear I felt 60 days ago has been replaced by gratitude. Grateful I’ve been given an opportunity to cultivate more peace in my life. Grateful I am supported by the love of family and friends. Grateful for the joy that fills my heart.
I will stay on this path.
reACTION [to change in the response to stimulus]: calm the mind
If you are a breath holder like me take a look at this. It has simple breathing strategies that could be a segue into a mediation practice.