Being awake in our life means so much more than just getting a good night’s sleep, opening our eyes and getting on with our day.
It’s tapping into an inner wisdom that exists in every single one of us. This inner wisdom is only accessible when we slow down, pay attention to our minds and bodies, embrace some silence, meditate and start using the right tools to build our self-awareness.
Do you find you go through periods in your life when everything feels pretty good? It’s kind of like those times when there’s nothing really significant going wrong and life feels, dare I say it? Complete. Maybe you just had a great family vacation, maybe you’re starting a new relationship, maybe business is growing, maybe you just published your first book. Basically - you’ve got it going on!
Life is GOOD.
And then, in what seems like a split second, everything changes.
One moment you’re on top of the world - and the next moment - your world starts to crumble and comes crashing down. It might not be some big traumatic event. It might just be getting stuck in 2 hours of traffic, or worrying about your weight, or having a disagreement with someone, or regretting your recent actions.
Life can change on a phone call, right?
Mine certainly did.
I wish my story were unique. That it was a story only I could tell. But it’s far from a unique story. I know so many people who can relate to it and have experienced many of the same things as me.
For most of my executive career I struggled to achieve any kind of decent work life balance. I allowed stress into my life and burned out more than once. My resiliency was so bad, I found it more and more difficult to bounce back from the regular day to day stuff we all go through. Most of the time I wasn’t aware of how stress was impacting me, or that it could seriously damage my health.
So, I chose to ignore it, because I was 'too busy' to pay attention.
TRUTH: I wasted more than ten years trying to beat stress and do battle with the day-to-day problems and adversities in my work and life.
I literally tried everything.
- I walked away from an amazing career in the UK.
- I left my family and friends behind and moved to Canada to start afresh.
- I started a new job with an outstanding firm in Toronto
- I met my husband here and started a wonderful family.
Life was looking GOOD.
I was convinced that the combined impact of all of these changes in my life would result in my achieving a perfect work life balance, and that I had finally outsmarted stress and adversity.
If only I could tell you that that’s what actually happened.
Before long, I dropped back into old habits and old behaviors. All those familiar stress reactivities began to re-surface and show up in my life again. And just like before, I kept going and going.
Do you remember the Energizer Bunny from the Energizer Bunny commercials way back? I don’t want to give my age away or anything, but that was me - well, except without the pink fur or long ears of course!
The mind has a clever way of tricking the body into believing that it can simply continue to operate at an insane pace indefinitely.
And did you know that most of us go about our day on a kind of autopilot mode? Research shows that the average person is lost in thought 47% of the time. It’s how we get through the ‘stuff’ that we have to do, while our thinking minds our elsewhere!
There was only one thing that could get my attention make me hit the pause button on the hedonistic treadmill I was on: a cancer diagnosis.
I realized early on, that it wasn’t just a cancer diagnosis it was a wake up call. I also realized I needed an entirely new way to handle this kind of adversity, because there was no way I could run from it. Let’s face it, a new job, a new house and a new life couldn’t fix this!
Now here’s the amazingly good news and the one thing that I wish I’d known all those years ago:
"It’s not the stressful events in our lives that are the problem. It’s our physiological response to them that matters." Kate Kerr
That’s how I found the evidence-based, science proven benefits of mindfulness and why I experienced an unbelievable wakeful awareness within myself. I studied, trained and practiced with the best doctors, experts and neuroscientists in the field of mindfulness and I became the CEO of ME and my health
It took this kind of experience to show me that we can’t run away from our adversities and fears. Because when we do, they always find a way back to us.
I discovered the only way through our challenges in life is to gently turn towards them and welcome them with a deep and intentional curiosity.
I’d never go back to my life before cancer. I’m living my best life now, fully cancer free.
Without that wake up call, I might not have discovered until much later in life (or never) that we all have access to a deeper level of consciousness. But I wouldn’t recommend it or wish it for you.
Just remember, you don’t need to go through a life crisis to be more awake in your life.