I have been taking stock of my blogging activities over the past few days. And, I have been giving a lot of thought to what it means to be living a mindful life with Multiple Sclerosis. My name is Stephen Walker and, in blogging life and social media, I use the pseudonym Spoonie Blogger. Not, because I seek anonymity but because it is a far more memorable and searchable name than Stephen Walker.
I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis or MS in 1994. It feels like I have had MS forever and recent thinking may give credence to that line of thought. But, that will be a subject for a future post.
When you have a neurological illness, like MS, it is very easy to lose direction of your life. And, that is precisely what I am experiencing now.
However, I need to try and take back control. I espouse to being an MS Warrior, so it is high time that I started acting like a fighter. And, took the fight to the my protagonist. MS is due a bloody nose and I’m in the mood to deliver it.
Restarting Mindful Life
I have lost my direction in the battle with multiple sclerosis. I am finding myself starting one job, losing interest, picking up another task and then becoming completely distracted.
It is not a case of failing to move forward, I am going backwards at full speed. The inevitable outcome will be an almighty crash. And, I don?t relish the thought of being there when it happens.
The time has come for mindfulness. I need to adopt a routine of self-awareness. Life needs to have a purpose otherwise we are simply existing.
Furthermore, I need that purpose to be fruitful. My life has to mean something, not only to me but, to those around me. I am getting older and slowly becoming more infirm.
But, I am not prepared to accept that the only destination I have is on the scrap heap.
The last post I published on this blog was the Difficulty with Backlink Building Strategies for the Blogger and epitomised my desperate scrabbling for hope. This had not been me living a mindful life.
However, hope is central to leading a mindful life. I need to get my life back on track before I will be able to restore the hope that is so essential for leading a life of mindfulness.
Cheerfulness is not a commodity I am generally short of. So, leading a mindful life should come naturally to me. But, just at the moment, this life of peaceful tranquility eludes me.
I have the privilege of knowing some wonderful people who are truly an inspiration in the way that they live and breathe mindfulness in their daily lives.Milli
Mindset is going to be key to restarting a mindful life. Because I know that a positive mindset can deliver remarkable recuperative results.
Developing a Positive Mindset
However, cultivating a positive mindset is going to be that much harder while contending with neurological impairment.
Part of the problem, quite a large part, is the nature of MS. The brain lesions being caused by MS are slowing the normal thought processes. However, a sluggish brain is still capable of living a mindful life.
It is the same myelin damage that causes the chronic pain experienced by many MSers. Personally, I am lucky, my pain tends to be more infrequent. It is not the pervasive, relentless pain more normally characteristic of this chronic disease.
The brain is a fascinating organ and understanding the inner working of the mind is a topic well beyond the means of this humble blog post.
But, the Spoonie Blogger fancies himself as an amateur neurologist. Therefore, he recognises the amazing potential for repair the brain has. Yes, I know this post is about being mindful and that is more the speciality of the psychologist. Another area of medicine that enthrals me.
However, returning to the subject of multiple sclerosis is a bad habit that I would gladly break. But, to continue discussing brain lesions, it will be almost essential.
My diagnosis with MS came after I had an MRI scan that revealed brain lesions. This, as I have already stated, happened in 1994. An MRI is a magnetic resonance imaging scan that can reveal the structure of the soft tissue in the body.
In MS, this scan can show the position of lesions in the brain. A lesion is an area of inflammation or scarring in the brain tissue.
Multiple Sclerosis Prognosis
Interestingly, my neurologist at the time referred to the inflammation as shadowing and not as lesions. But, the prognosis was the same, regardless of the terminology used.
The main characteristic of MS is its unique nature in every individual. Therefore, there is no set pattern on symptom development or progression path.
At the time of writing this post, I have had MS for over 25 years. Multiple Sclerosis is a progressive disease which means that without intervention it will only worsen.
However, simple lifestyle changes can slow or even stop this progression. Can MS be cured? No, at this stage there is no cure for multiple sclerosis. The reality is that the medical profession know very little about why MS develops in the first place.
However, I am content in the knowledge that this is now my life. I have adjusted my lifestyle accordingly and still hope to rival my parents in the longevity stakes. My parents are both in their 80s.
This is one of the reasons that I focus on mindfulness. Living a mindful life is crucial in allowing my brain to utilise the neurological reserve to its full potential.
Learning is the key to a healthy mind
My understanding of mindfulness is that it is the ability to allow your mind to flourish and focus on your mental abilities.
Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we?re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what?s going on around us.Mindful
Every day, I sit down with my electronic tablet, to perform my Spanish language lesson. I do this to improve the clarity of my mind. Rather than to communicate with my friends in Spain. The latter is a very useful by-product of mental exercise.
Learning a new language benefits my mental agility by forcing my mind to build new neural connections. Living a mindful life will achieve the same mental improvement.
Who can lead Mindful life?
Anyone can be mindful. You don’t need to practice transcendental meditation or yoga. Although both can be useful for mindfulness.
You can be mindful. No special training is required. Even a spoonie blogger can be a relaxed, mindful proponent. Which is exactly how I intend to rejuvenate my blogging career.
However, in order to lead this mindful, relaxed lifestyle, I will need to make some changes. I need to change my expectation of spoonie life, limitations needs to become a word I no longer recognise.
As part of my acceptance of multiple sclerosis, I resigned myself to a lack of activity, to being relaxed in my life of boredom and to relinquishing my travel plans and business aspirations.
But, that is not a positive attitude. There are many things that I can no longer accomplish. However, being hopeful is not one of them. And living a mindful life is still well within my grasp.
Perhaps, the most important thing that I must do, is to organise my life. It is now quite a few years since I had to go out to “work”. And, I don’t miss it one little bit. I am now a blogger. An occupation that I love, but, one about which I still have a great deal to learn.
By definition, occupation is the thing you do to derive a living. But, in that sense, blogging is not fulfilling the objective. Sure, it makes me some money. However, the significant word here is some.
Running a Spoonie Blog
Many bloggers can and do, make a comfortable living by running a blog. If it can be done then I will find a way that I can do it too.
But, discovering the need to live a mindful life is providing me with a new direction. I have found peace and contentment and an improved lifestyle because of it.
The problem with running a spoonie blog is that I am a spoonie. What does that mean? Sadly, it means that my brain does not work the way a normal brain is capable of working.
It means that I forget what I am doing which makes it very difficult to be a consistent blogger or social media participant.
I spend many hours of every day in pain. When trying to broadcast a positive message of mindfulness and organised business, pain tends to dull the positive mindset.
The solution is to organise my days into manageable segments organised by ordered lists. So, that at any point, I can see what needs to be done. It further means, that when pain and brain fog subside for a few moments, I can carry on working where I left off with minimal disruption.
The Mindful Blogger
By being aware of my limitations, I can schedule my work at a rate that is consistent with my ability. By being suitably organised I can avoid unnecessary duplication of my efforts.
Furthermore, this level of organisation allows me to work steadily at a rate that does not overtax me. I can feel happy in the knowledge that I am still working. The mindful life blogger will find contentment in working at this new steady pace.
In addition to this contentment, success is far more likely to be within reach by working consistently.
One of the things that help me find peace when everything is going wrong. Is the hope that, by opening up about my difficulties, I am helping another spoonie make sense of their life.