Since being diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (or M.E. — Myalgic Encephalomyelitis) in December 2017 I have been on a never-ending journey to uncover anything and everything which could be of benefit to me and improve my situation, with the hope and belief that I will ultimately recover. One thing that kept cropping up every time I spoke to someone or ran a Google search was the art of meditation and mindfulness. The evidence showed that the practice of mindfulness has the potential to be life changing, so—albeit sceptical—I began my quest to learn more and see what it was all about. 

My initial attempts at meditation consisted of an abundance of anxious thoughts that I wasn’t doing it right because I couldn’t ‘clear my mind’ of the negative thoughts. This usually lasted approximately two minutes before I threw the towel in and gave up. I was thinking about thinking instead of letting my mind rest at ease and allow the practice to come to me (if only I knew that back then what I know now!). 

Until one day I was attending a yoga class at the Manchester Buddhist Centre and noticed a poster for a meditation course specifically for health, run by Breathworks. This seemed ideal as it was clear from the poster that the course was aimed at everyone, from beginners to more advanced meditators. I contacted Breathworks the same day and spoke to Stanter, who was running the course. She was very warm and welcoming over the phone and after a quick chat I was signed up. 

I joined my first session and was immediately made to feel welcome by Stanter and the rest of the group, and after the first two weeks of home practice I was beginning to reconnect with my body again and notice things I had been oblivious to for a very long time. 

Over the following weeks as we progressed through the course material, I gradually learned how to embrace and accept all aspects of myself and my situation, and begin to let go of the negative stories I’d so desperately clung to and had made an identity out of. I was beginning to make peace with myself, make decisions based on my intuition and feel at ease in myself for the first time in years. 

Needless to say I have continued my practice since completing the course and now sit to meditate twice a day. What I once saw as a chore (in an attempt to regain health), I now thoroughly enjoy as part of my daily life. In addition to sitting, I also actively apply mindfulness in every other part of my life, whether that be going for a walk in nature or cleaning the dishes. I no longer allow myself to get lost in those consuming storylines and unconscious patterns. It’s safe to say my senses have been reignited thanks to this course and I am now aware of the world around me in all its glory. 

Although I am not fully well yet and I still have a way to go with my practice, this course has been pivotal in winding down my nervous system and allowing me to become the observer (I never understood what people meant when they said that before), and I am positive will have acted as one of the springboards to my recovery.

Ben Grindrod

Find out more about the Mindfulness for Health Course here