I had always been what I thought was a ‘strong’ person. Stoic even. Carefree and able to cope with life’s pressures and get on with things no matter what was thrown at me. That was until quite a number of distressing events happened in a short period of time that really affected my mental state.
After living overseas I came home to New Zealand as my mother was terminally ill; I then found out I was pregnant with my first child, and on top of this I was a stranger to Wellington and knew no one but my partner, so it was difficult for me. My Mum was in Christchurch so I would fly down there to see her, often not knowing what to expect on the other end – this had me on edge, a lot.
Over a few months, my Mum passed, the Christchurch Earthquake happened and my wedding was a month after the tragedy. Then, when my son was around 6 months old, he became seriously ill and was hospitalised several times with Bronchiolitis – so for weeks, I was in and out of the hospital, exhausted and highly stressed. Eventually, just getting on planes, caused me to have panic attacks so I immediately blamed the way I was feeling on having a fear of flying. I set out to deal with this issue, not realising that it went much much deeper.
I saw a psychologist who pointed out that the life events I had been through were traumatic and even although I believed I was ‘strong’ the trauma has to manifest itself somewhere. For me, it was in my stress levels and in my breathing. I was hunched over, I was having shoulder and arm pain and my diaphragm wasn’t functioning the way it was supposed to, crushed under the weight of my body and the day to day anxiety I was experiencing. I was getting somewhere but I knew I needed more help.
I searched in Wellington for local places I could approach to improve my breathing. That was when I came across Andy and Empower Studio. I emailed Andy and he rang me back straight away and organised a consultation, which would then turn into me seeing him twice a week for sessions on mindfulness meditation. I have had 10 sessions with him so far and I honestly cannot believe the difference that it has made in my life. He has talked me through the principles of mindfulness and shown me that I really am capable of controlling the way I react to my own thoughts. He’s had some significant insights to share with me one being:
“The only thing that is real – is now”
This helps me to stop ruminating on the past, worrying about the future and creating problems that don’t exist. After only a month it’s not only me who’s noticed a difference, my two boys have and my friends have said that even my text messages seem more zen!
Andy has taught me to ‘step out of my own way’ and has given me tools that are helping me stay calm (and rational!), especially with my boys and my husband. The tipping point was when I took them to a climbing wall recently and instead of fearing that something terrible would happen, I was much more relaxed – they had fun and so did I. The process I am going through with Andy genuinely is changing my life and I am really grateful for it.
He is non-judgemental, personable and so passionate about mindfulness meditation that it’s hard not to be enthused with him. I admire his integrity and I think he really is invested in what he’s doing and who he is helping.
I’m going to stick with this, as I know it works for me. I’m so, so happy that I now can take a step back, that I’m more relaxed and that my anxiety isn’t getting in the way of me enjoying time with my family.
Thank you Andy, I’m truly a happier person since meeting you.