What Being Disabled Taught Me About Mindfulness

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The World and How It Looks

The discourse surrounding disabilities is vast and complicated. There are issues most readers have touched upon before, or debated with others at one time or another. Legislation has been passed, laws made to be observed. Millions of children are born and live their daily lives with some form of disability or other and parents are often left to work to impart strength, and patience to their child.

My parents were not exception to this, of course. My mother worked daily to teach me to be patient, to be kind and to see my disability as only an obstacle to overcome rather than a limitation. But, the most important lesson she ever taught me was this: be mindful of what you have. That is, look at life in terms of what you can do, rather than what you cannot do.

It seems to be a simple lesson to learn and possibly common sense, but when you live in a world full of people who judge you based on what you are incapable of, it can be a difficult thing to remember. I vividly remember struggling with the concept as a child – when all I wanted was to be like other children. I wanted to forgo the doctors appointments, surgeries and braces. I would have wished it away in a heartbeat, if I had been able.

I was born with Cerebral Palsy, a condition caused by brain damage that affects balance, coordination and my ability to walk, as well as other things. My parents, as all good parents do, wanted to do all they could to give me the best care possible. I spent nearly all of my primary school years visiting specialists and one of these specialists was a physical therapist.

I remember very little of the actual sessions, but I do remember seeing other children with Cerebral Palsy, but far more severely affected than I was. My mother would kneel in front of me and say, “Do you remember seeing those other kids? How it is for them? I want you to remember that. I want you to remember how lucky you are.”

Life and What You Make of It

A simple thing: Remember how lucky you are. Those words planted seeds deep within my heart and they shaped how I faced life and it’s challenges. And while my disability has indeed been a challenge, it has been a gift in it’s own way.

My disability has taught me to celebrate everything that brings me joy. To be aware of beautiful things around me in my daily life and to never take them for granted. Every moment is precious and every day is a chance to experience something new and wonderful. It has taught me that I can choose how I face the world and how I look at my life.

I could choose to see it as struggles, hardship and pain given to me by chance. Or, I could choose to see it as evidence of everything I can overcome, if I put my mind to it. I could weep and mourn what I cannot do, or celebrate in everything I’m capable of.

Take time to consider how you see your own life. Is it from a positive point of view or a pessimistic one? Are you truly aware of the gifts you have been given and do you make time to be thankful for them? There are a great many things in life beyond our control. But mindfulness, taking time to be thankful for what is given to us, that is something we can control.

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Jordan Warren is a 24 year old college student studying German and Linguistics, with a passion for words in all of their forms. LGBTQA+ and Women's Rights hold a special place in his heart, as well as those of special needs children. In his spare time, Jordan enjoys studying history, modern languages and writing poetry and short stories. Writing for Next Generation Magazine is his first official foray into the world of non-fiction.
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