My Journey with Mindfulness 

Mindfulness journey

Only my thoughts with me on the train. They kept me company for a couple of stations and then it was only me and the silence. Beautiful silence. There was the rhythmic beat of the train’s engine, the metal wheels rubbing against the rail and the drivers’ announcements but I tuned in to my heart’s beat and the movements of my breathing. I had a moment of mindfulness and felt immense peace.

My journey with mindfulness started about four years ago. My initial introduction was through books, followed by a 8-week MBSR program. I’ve lapsed here and there but in the last few months my meditation practice has gained momentum again. I joined the mindfulness summit in October and it was very energising and I’m committed to keep the momentum going.

Mindfulness has a very strong impact on my anxiety. When I manage to maintain the practice I feel a much lower level of agitation in my mind. The problem is to keep the practice going consistently. You skip a few days and, at least for me, it’s very hard to pick up where you left off. But I feel I’m heading in the right direction now. I’ve embarked on trip to go nowhere, a trip to the present moment.

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My grandparent-less upbringing

Grandmother

My mum with baby Thomas

I was in a cafe the other day when an elderly woman set down at a table next to be. She reminded me of my mum. A few minutes later a mother with two children arrived. They greeted the elderly lady, gave her big hugs and sat down. They were giggling and chatting for about thirty minutes and finally left with the kids holding grandma’s hands and I was left holding back my tears. There was so much love among them and that made me think of my own grandparent-less childhood. My parents moved from Rio to the Northeast coast of Brazil when they got married, and travel was not as affordable as it’s today, so me and my siblings grew up without any connections with our extended family. We had relatives that came to visit here and there and as lovely as it was to have them around for a few days, they were  strangers to me.  I’m talking about the pre-internet age here, there was no Skype or Facebook. We knew very little about each others lives.

Kids that grow up with grandparents, aunties and uncles around are very fortunate. In fact, these children are happier than kids without grandparents. I was reading about a study that shows that “the emotional relationship between grandparents and their grandchildren can significantly affect the children’s academic, psychological, and social development.”  Another study found that kids that have a close relationship with their grandparents have less symptoms of depression and have better emotional health.

I remember from my own childhood feeling a bit jealous of kids that went to their grandparents home on the weekends or were picked up at school by their grandparents. I always thought it was exciting to have a ‘second’ home to go back to and if something happened to your parents, you knew that you would still have family to love and care for you. In addition to creating an extra layer of security, grandparents pass down unique life lessons and values that you don’t get from your parents.

Fast forward 30 years, history repeats itself. Like my parents, we also moved away, much further away. Thankfully my kids were born in the digital age, so even oceans apart, they know that their grandparents, cousins and relatives are just a click away. My mum and parents-in-law are now too frail to endure an ultra long-haul flight, so we keep going back to Brazil whenever we can. We probably won’t be able to leave a lot of possessions for our kids but they are surely collecting lots of stamps in their passports and memories that will last a life time.