Mindfulness means paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, infused with qualities like kindness, curiosity and acceptance
I am looking out to the North Sea from the beach at Frinton in Essex with Bettina. My hands are cold and so are my feet and I am squinting because the wind and sea spray (not to mention the rain) is blowing in my face. Yet, for me, this is as close to heaven as you can get. I am with Bettina.
Yesterday Joyce (my wife) said that Bettina had touched Joyce’s jaw to move it in time with Bettina’s speech; “beach tomorrow with Dad”. There was not going to be any negotiation with Bettina on what she wanted to do on Saturday. I couldn’t wait!
I had had a tough week with lots of driving across the country; being on my feet (a lot) whilst delivering training and presentations so I knew what was coming from spending a morning together – peace, elation, tranquility and contentment. All of these emotions felt by just spending time with Bettina on a deserted beach on a winter’s day.
So many people who have been part of Bettina’s life have described the effect she has had on them just by being in her presence, so it isn’t just her proud parents who feel this way. We have described her as being “spiritual” without coming up with a profound understanding of what this means and what it is that she gives out. Until now!
I had heard of ‘Mindfulness’ without really knowing what it was, until I saw the agenda for the next Managing Directors Meeting for my organisation. We have a presentation on Mindfulness so I thought that as I am the current Chair I had better read up on the subject beforehand.
Reading these chapters, I thought this is Bettina! Crikey, I reckon she was a Buddhist Monk in another life and this is why I always feel peaceful, elated, tranquil and contented when we are together – especially when she is doing something she loves.
So how does Bettina act with Mindfulness?
- Bettina lives in the present in an enjoyable way. There is no past or future for her, only the here and now
- I often observe Bettina standing or sitting quietly thinking. Recently there was no noise coming from her bedroom and it was very quiet. We are used to hearing noise, usually laughter, so we were worried. Bettina copes with epilepsy so had she had a seizure? Joyce asked if she was ok (from outside her bedroom) she responded with “I am thinking”
- Experiencing Nature. She explores her life with the intention of experiencing the unity of life: the sky, earth, trees, grass and flowers and the whole sense of life. With her ears she experiences the sounds of nature, whether it is birds singing or the breezes rustling her hair (which she loves).
- Bettina demands nothing from this world. I believe this reveals to her an extraordinary dimension of wonder. She practices to be content with what she has. It is a sign of her inner wealth
- Bettina expresses her creativity through her body in so many ways, such as music which she moves to and I think gives her inner peace and which she finds uplifting and affects her mood. Bettina is also at one with the harmonious movement of Tai Chi which she loves and practices to a high level every week.
- Walking mindfully. I don’t think Bettina is thinking about her destination when she is walking. She is in the moment as she walks. Bettina feels the breeze and enjoys the steps she makes and feels the sensation on her feet – that’s mindfulness. Bettina’s mind is in the moment meditating as she walks.
So how does Bettina transform my life through her Mindfulness?
- Changes my relationship with daily life so that I feel more in tune with myself and others
- Leaving behind and not worrying about the future. Being happy and content in the present (previously I have been obsessed with things and events, past, present and future). I make the intention to stay calm and conscious throughout the whole day
- Instead of hurrying from one thing to another, trying to do too many things at the same time, I now focus on the activity at hand. This is what Bettina does.
- Just as I have learned from Bettina, I too practice being content with what I have in my life. I feel so fortunate and have a sense of appreciation.
- I practise achieving stillness. I have observed that when Bettina is waiting to go out with her Personal Assistant, she sits still therefore not expending any energy. She is calm. I now try to be like Bettina not fidgeting, changing position, crossing and uncrossing my legs or fiddling around with a pen. This will help me before my next Board Meeting!
- Developing an Attitude of Gratitude. Please see “taking the time to be grateful and showing gratitude” on my blog. You are grateful when you’re aware of what you do have rather than what you don’t.
- I carefully select music in my car on my journey to an important meeting, or to deliver a workshop, that is spiritually uplifting. I choose music that will give me waves of positive energy as I approach my destination and music that provides my inner peace after the event
“That doesn’t surprise me about Bettina – that focus on the here and now and thing in hand is I’m sure what you see Bettina being great at every day. She has something to teach us all” Karen Boyce – Dawson
A person’s ethics are known through spending a long time with that person and through not being inattentive.
A person’s fortitude is known through the way that person handles adversity.
A person’s wisdom is known over a long time through discussing with that person matters of importance. The Buddha
Bettina is a woman who copes with Learning Disabilities, Autism and Epilepsy. Just like her big sister Jennifer, she is as beautiful on the inside as she is on the outside.