My Background in Mental Health
I initially got into meditation and training my mind because I always found myself carrying around a sadness inside. Even when things were going well, I always had a mild sadness, anger or agitation within my mind and body. Sometimes this sadness became stronger; for example, if I were ill it would increase.
This affected my entire life, especially my relationships. It became so bad that I struggled to train my own dog due to impatience and not accepting reality. Couple this with an ego, being very introverted and an attitude of “it’s everyone else’s fault and not mine,” I felt disconnected and didn’t want to interact with society.
Another reason that I wanted to train my mind was because I have always been fascinated by people who, under insurmountable pressure, can remain calm, collected and in control.
Whether it was movie characters such as James Bond, Paul Newman in Cool Hand Luke and one of many roles played by Steve McQueen (for the younger reader, you may have to Google some of my film and music choices) or real life figures such as Chris Ryan or W Mitchell.
W Mitchell was a former member of the US Marines who returned after being severely burnt and then later survived an aircraft crash. Although he survived the crash he lost the use of both legs and is now in a wheelchair for the rest of his life.
Another key driver that attracted me to meditation was that I always wanted more. A constant feeling that I had something to do, something to prove and something to achieve.
Sometime during the 1990’s I saw this humongous guy with big white teeth on the TV, advertising a programme called “Get The Edge.” He promised to help with succeeding in all areas of life. The guy’s name was Tony Robbins and he was, and still is, one of the biggest and best motivational speakers of all time.
At that time I didn’t take much notice, it wasn’t until a few years later when I really felt that I needed to change my life. I managed to obtain a copy of “Get The Edge” and listened to it every day. Soon after, YouTube became popular and things started to flow from there.
YouTube introduced me to people like Jim Rohn and Les Brown who are great motivational speakers. I came across Buddhist monks and spiritual teachers. I learned about the mindset of Special Forces operatives and how martial artists use their breath in training and combat. I consumed anything that improved my mind and I still do today.
Mental Health In My Life Today
I have always been a minimalist. I don’t like unnecessary fluff. Anything I learn, I break down into easily digestible, practical guidelines so that any technique can be applied to everyday life. My philosophy is to get as much bang for your buck as possible.
Some people like detail; if that’s the case, I always let them know where I got the technique from so they can go and do their own research.
I’m now a personal trainer who has branched out into teaching mindfulness classes and workshops to the general public, local councils and universities.
It has taken me twenty years of my working life to finally figure out what I want to do, and now I know: TO HELP PEOPLE HAVE PEACE OF MIND.
I wanted to share my story because I don’t want people – especially the younger generation – to fall into the trap of negative thoughts and stories which can often be so harmful. I want you to know that there is always a way.
A while back, I read a book by Ryan Holiday called The Obstacle Is The Way. The title basically outlines the books theme which is – you can use any obstacle you are facing in life as a path to move forward. If not, go around the obstacle. Do not let obstacles in life stop you!
When you overcome an obstacle you feel stronger and more confident in yourself. My obstacle was my mind and my own negatives thoughts, belief-systems and the actions that followed – taking a leaf out of Ryan’s book: “how could these obstacles be the way?”
At first I could not see a way forward but once I started training my mind and using various techniques I started to see incremental results. My mind, thinking and belief systems started to become more positive which then resulted in positive actions. These techniques still have positive effects on my life to this day.
This was the way. My many years of learning about how to train, improve and work with my mind (not against it) has lead me to be passionate about teaching others; firstly, so they can bypass many years of negative, angry thoughts and secondly, so people can improve their lives and the lives of others. The obstacle became the way!
It’s worth noting that this is an ongoing process for me. It will continue for the rest of my life. There will never be a time when I say: “that’s it, I’m fixed.” My mind and yours will continue to race, hold negative thoughts and try to bring us down if we give it chance.
But now we have a tool… Through mindfulness we can observe our minds by detaching when we need to, avoiding a road of dread and darkness. Jim Rohn once said “stand guard at the doors of your mind” – he was right.
Through mindfulness we can stand back from our thoughts and make choices based on logic and not overwhelming emotions. This is especially applicable in negative situations, environments and when you are surrounded by negative people.
These things often drain you quicker than any physical task. There is a brilliant chapter in Jordan Peterson’s new book, 12 Rules for Life, which is called Make Friends With People Who Want The Best For You and this includes yourself and your own mind.
Do you want to listen to a negative so-called friend moaning, judging and running you down all day? Probably not; so why do we put up with it from these so-called friends and why do we put up with it from our own minds?
You have a choice of who you spend most of your time with and what your predominant thoughts are. These things can be changed!
I am not a doctor of any sorts but this is my very short view on medication for mental health…
Although there are benefits to being medicated with pills, I believe they are given and accepted too freely.
For a quick fix solution, some people can benefit from them but mental health is often not a problem that you can patch over with a quick fix.
Sometimes quick fixes are necessary: if you are stranded in a raging river and about to fall over the edge to your extinction, then Freddie Kruger sticks his hand out to save you, grab on and sort Freddie out later!
That’s all I have to say on antidepressants. I haven’t researched them deeply enough to comment anymore.
I hope this has helped you relate to my journey of mental health issues and mindfulness practice. Your mind can find some very dark places at times and you don’t want to reside there for long or, if possible, at all.
There is always a way. Don’t give up because there are people who rely on you and who love you. If you find your “why,” you can bear almost any “how.”
Grab onto your why with both hands and hold on.
I don’t care who you are, you have a gift to share with the world and bring light to someones darkness.
If you are struggling and feel like you are slipping into a dark place, talk to someone; anyone: a friend, doctor, partner, coach, even me! Talk to someone; you are not silly and you are definitely not weak.
Some of the greatest warriors in history used mindfulness or meditation practices of some sort: the Spartans, Samurai and even Marcus Aurelius. The great Roman emperor wrote his thoughts which have been collated into a book called “Meditations.”
If it was good enough for those guys then it’s good enough for me!
Death smiles at us all. All we can do is smile back.