I remember those words like it was yesterday. Those two short words cut through me like a sharp knife as my youngest son blurted them out while taking a bite of his sandwich that I had just given him.

We were on our way to his fall soccer game in a neighboring town. The sun had just set and we were driving along the highway. After a particularly busy and stressful day at work, I had just stopped by a fast food restaurant and grabbed a chicken sandwich, fries and a drink for him.

 

Photo Credit: Oliur

While almost at the field I heard those awful words:  Mom, mayo!

I immediately realized that while thinking about the stresses of my workday and getting him to the game on time, I failed to special order his sandwich without mayonnaise due to his egg allergy. He instantly noticed how creamy the sandwich tasted after the first bite.

We pulled in the parking lot right away.  Because it was already getting dark, it was a little difficult to assess the situation.  We discussed how he was feeling, and decided to give epinephrine. I asked him if he wanted to self-administer. He had tried the year before at age 13 but was unable. This time he hesitated for a few seconds but then injected his thigh. Unfortunately, that night he ended up at the ER instead of on the soccer field because of my mistake, and I felt horrible.

 

AUTOPILOT

Woman upside down
Photo Credit: Tanja Heffner

My lack of being present caused my careless mistake and ultimately my son’s reaction. I was on autopilot. I had what felt like a gazillion things on my mind that evening and my mind was spinning.

Do you ever feel like you are on autopilot?  Do your days seem to be moving too quickly? Are you often ruminating about the past or worrying about the future?

For many of us, life is busy and seems to be getting busier each day.  We often try to fit more projects or activities into the day and may not be sleeping well. Many of us are multitasking while driving, cooking, and even while spending time with loved ones. Have you ever been speaking with someone only to realize that you don’t know what they said because you were not paying attention but rather thinking about something else?

“The most precious gift we can offer others is our presence. When mindfulness embraces those we love, they will bloom like flowers.” ~Thich Nhat HanhClick To Tweet

 

As a wife, daughter, physician and mother of two sons with life-threatening food allergies, I have been down this bumpy road. In addition to the traditional pressures of family and a career, the stress of navigating the world of food allergies can be difficult.  Wondering if I have sufficiently prepared my sons to advocate for and protect themselves as well as worrying about their safety while attending school, parties and driving alone can be daunting.

 

MINDFULNESS

Photo Credit: Verplaric Tokipukey
Mindfulness is awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally. ~Jon Kabat-ZinnClick To Tweet

 

Following this experience, I was introduced to the concept of mindfulness during a series of Mindfulness & Meditation Courses taught by Monica Jordan M.Ed. and MCMBT. Monica, who has a wonderful spirit, brought the concept of mindfulness to life for me and has helped me to reconnect with the peace within.

As she explains it, “Mindfulness is a subtle shift in the way you pay attention, a shift that will radically change your way of relating to yourself and your circumstances from the inside out. It is a way of being with and attending to your experience just as it is with awareness rather than judgment…Mindfulness is a radical act of self-compassion and kindness. It is about pausing and simply being rather than getting caught up in the endless “to do list” and forgetting who is “doing the doing,” and why.”.

According to Psychology Today, the practice of mindfulness can have many positive benefits such as  “improvements in immune function, reductions in stress and anxiety, increases in empathy and improvement in relationship satisfaction.”

During her course, Monica helped me to understand the effect detrimental stress was having on my body, how mindfulness could help bring me back in balance and how I could incorporate it into my daily life. I learned how to begin to control my thoughts and not allow my thoughts to control me. I practiced slowing down, quieting my mind, expressing gratitude and cultivating compassion particularly towards myself.

Mindfulness is a radical act of self-compassion and kindness. ~Monica Jordan Click To Tweet

 

REFLECTION

Following the mindfulness course, as I reflected on that evening driving to the soccer game, I realized that I was not present. I was rushing and my mind was preoccupied.  I do remember, however, feeling grateful that the medication had stopped his reaction and that we now knew that he could self-administer his EpiPen.

While hesitant, I shared this story on Facebook as a way to remind people to slow down.  Although I had little self-compassion, my Facebook community was very compassionate. They embraced me and many admitted to having had similar experiences.  The outpouring of caring and understanding as well as virtual {{{hugs}}} from family, friends and even strangers was heartwarming.

I have seen other social media posts by parents who have accidentally given their child something to which they are allergic. Again, there are often many comments about not feeling alone, that no one is perfect and others admit they have made similar mistakes. Interestingly, the person writing the original post may not be able to express that same degree of compassion towards themselves.

 

BRINGING AWARENESS TO MY EXPERIENCES

Several months later, my same son was diagnosed with pneumonia which we initially thought was viral induced asthma. Although it was difficult to watch him with the illness, I was so grateful that we finally knew what was wrong, had antibiotics to treat him and that he was responding to the medication.

During his recovery, my son and I were purposeful in our thinking by focusing on grateful thoughts and letting the negative thoughts float away. We were intentional about him taking his medicine and performing his breathing exercises. We expressed gratitude that he was improving. We both learned to slowed down.

 

Photo Credit: Lesly Juarez

I am still a student of mindfulness.

I don’t pretend to have this whole mindful practice figured out but I can see that it has helped me deal with stressful situations in my life so I decided to share my experiences with you in case you’d like to embark upon the journey with me.

I hope that you will join me and I hope that mindfulness will help you to successfully navigate your personal path.

Donna

 

Do you practice mindfulness?  Share with us below.

 

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How my distraction caused my child's reaction. The danger of being on autopilot with food allergies and a powerful free tool to help manage your journey. @FoodASC #Foodallergies#foodallergy#mindfulness#meditation#soccermom

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