How many things in your life do you “not want to talk about”, often pushing these backwards and locking them in a little box where you hope they will never come out? I do not know of anyone that doesn’t have something they are yet to deal with, I did for years and this is how I dealt with it!
My aim with this Blog is to be honest, to tell you what I learned to accept and see that it was part of my life and the reason I am here now.
Quite often we experience things that others may not understand so we have to make sense of these situations ourselves. Making sense of something cannot be found in the consumption of Alcohol, Drugs or excessive exercise. It is found through accepting that these events happened, that we are in control of nothing but our own thoughts and should always ask whether the situation is affecting us right now!
We have the opportunity to grow from our experiences, be stronger and help others through it or we have the option to let it ruin our lives. I chose the first!
When I returned from Afghanistan I was 20, it took me years to process certain things I had seen and answer question’s, which didn’t make sense at the time. I then joined the fire service and witnessed people burnt to death, a plane crash, multiple car accidents, drowning’s, body retrievals and fatal incidents at homes as well as the ‘usual’ traumatic incidents. I will be honest none of this is great to see but it is what happens and it is what you sign up for … to be there when people need you the most.
I cried when I lost friends knowing I couldn’t share any banter with them again and I would constantly replay the image of a 13 year old boy with his legs blown off who’s skin was falling off in our hands as we carried him to the extraction point. I came home after some incidents and couldn’t talk to people about the things that had happened whilst serving in the fire service as I did not want to burden them with this as well. I would feel angry for no reason and take it out on myself and those who were closest to me. I then added to this by throwing myself into road cycling covering up to 300 miles a week and spending hours on the road on my own in the hope that these thoughts would make more sense (this was only a temporary fix). I also added HIIT sessions into my routine via Kettlebells and bodyweight training … I was very fit for fitness but not “fit for life”, because of this I wasn’t “fit for purpose”. Only now looking back can I see that my body was tight, holding stress, I couldn’t relax and my breathing was shallow and vindictive of a survival stress response. I needed to find a way of channeling this … but I didn’t know how to!
I started martial arts under the guidance of GM Angelo Baldisonne around 8 years ago when I left the military which started the process. Martial arts was a way of becoming present and beginning the journey towards finding a void in my consciousness where I could be completely present in that moment, this was experienced whilst I was practicing. I soon realised that the practice was essential for my mental and cognitive function.
Yoga was a later addition to the process around 2012, then heading to Samahita retreat studying under the guidance of Paul Dallaghan I began to integrate basic breath-work which made me realise that I was storing shtuff (sh*t stuff) and lots of it! I was told “The breathing exercises (Kriya’s, Simple breath work and Pranayama’s) combined with the physical practice of yoga asana may ‘bring stuff up” … and it did!
I learned that we store tension in our tissues, it’s a survival / stress response that almost locks experiences into our muscle memory as a way of saying “don’t let this happen again” … or if it does start to happen again … “don’t worry I remember this”. The practice of “yoga”, is not found entirely in the movements (which definitely has its purpose) it is about retraining the mind to also find a ‘void in your consciousness’ which all points towards a meditative practice. This can then be applied to anything, as ‘felt’ within a martial arts practice. The addition of yoga to my life retrained the way I went about fitness, as a reminder to constantly tap into my internal processing rather than ‘thrashing’ myself for the sake of it. I still push myself but in a more intelligent way maintaining awareness throughout the session rather than pushing to the point I become numb!
As mentioned at the start, my aim with this blog was to be honest, I was told that the best way to process things is to help others through it. You haven’t had to experience a full-blown trauma to trigger the same stress processes as we are all different and this is the amazing thing about life. The thing to remember is although we are all different due to our experiences we are in fact all the same, we undoubtedly came from the same place millions of years ago and it is in our interests to develop as a race whilst respecting the world we live in.
All mindful processes begin with the ability to make sense of and channel your own thoughts, which undoubtedly allows us to be able to see how incredible life is. Whatever you have been through has built your past, it can therefore affect your present and also your future … if you let it. What you need to decide is “Is it improving my life or placing limitations on my life.” Our future is a projection of the present, the past no longer exists but via the thoughts that we hold in our mind. Ease yourself into a practice that allows you to step back and observe what is really going on internally. The internal processing will change the ‘external’ and therefore the whole world you live in.
I regret nothing in my past, I am here today and could be gone tomorrow but that in itself I see as a constant reminder that … everyday I wake up I have life and for that I am grateful.
Thank you for reading