Where are you looking?

This week the newsletter is coming to you from glorious Cornwall (as far South West as you can get on mainland England).

It’s still pretty busy here as the schools aren’t back until next week. So we escaped all the humans and dogs and headed for a walk which avoided as many of both as we could. And that meant heading for the hills. Thankfully this one had a beach at the bottom where we could cool our heels (literally!) and admire some unspoilt views before making our way back up the hill.

Whenever I climb a hill, I’m always reminded of a trip years ago to the Atlas Mountains in Morocco. At the time I was a pretty fit 20-something, but the mountains really took it out of me. I will always remember sitting on a rock gasping to catch my breath and watching a local Berber villager approach me and then pass by, breathing as if he was merely out for a Sunday stroll.

He’d quite possibly been climbing this particular pass for decades, which might have accounted for some of his ease. But that was not the only reason. As he climbed the mountain he ignored the track we had taken that headed straight up. Instead, he zig-zagged his way up the incline, crisscrossing the vertical track multiple times. But that still wasn’t the whole reason. He also walked steadily and with intention, whether he was zigging or zagging. I can’t say for sure he was walking mindfully. I had no idea what was going on in his head, and he could have been thinking about a million different things. But the walk certainly looked mindful to me.

I always have this Berber man in mind whenever I tackle any incline. When you’re walking uphill it’s very tempting to keep looking at the high point that you are heading towards.

For me, all that does is emphasise how very far uphill I still have to climb. It’s not very motivating. In fact, it can be completely demoralising, especially when husband and hound are yomping out of sight!

Instead, I take a different approach. My first tactic is to take each step mindfully and intentionally, focusing on that step only, and not the thousands I still have to take to reach my objective. I enjoy the crunch of my shoes on the path, the buzz of the insects in the bramble bushes either side of me, the heat of the sun and the cool of the sea breeze on my arms and legs…

My second tactic is to look back from time-to-time and appreciate how far I have come. When we’re keen to make progress, we can become so intent on the goal we have not yet reached that we forget to congratulate ourselves on what we have already achieved.

We can approach our tinnitus journey in a similar way. Rather than focusing on the end goal (that cure we all hope will appear in our lifetime) we can invest our energy in trying to make each step there as enjoyable as it can be. When we’re having a challenging time with tinnitus (yes, we all have them) we can look back and remember how much of a difference to our life all those small, mindful steps have made.

What small, mindful steps can you make on your tinnitus journey this week?