Mindfulness can be a way to cope with challenging year

Mindfulness gives us the tools with which we might deal more effectively with those poor hands we have been dealt. | Getty Images

Q: As much as I love my wife I am very tired of her trying to get the two of us into couples counseling where, presumably, we will learn about something called mindfulness.

This is a therapy that is supposed to help me feel better. But how do you feel better in the middle of a drought?

The few clouds we have on the horizon do just about anything except bring us rain. You can meditate or pontificate all that you want — the bottom line is when you open your eyes from whatever meditative exercise you are practising, you cannot help but see starving crops, a desolate wind and that caked earth desecrating the land where once were trees and sloughs and even little rivers of water.

Nothing changes. Neither do those pesky reminders from the creditors that payments are due. I am not sure how we are going to keep up.

I know that even if we make it this year, which we probably will, next year will be another challenge. It has got to be better. Otherwise we are through, finished, lost in the labyrinth of circular financial mazes with no possible exit, no way out. Even bankruptcy, which is more of a possibility than it has been for a long time, is out of reach. The rules themselves to declare bankruptcy are overwhelming. It is almost as if they are designed to prevent bankruptcy, not to protect me, the farmer, from certain financial despair.

So when my wife goes off to her weekly yoga class, or spends 20 minutes in silent meditation every morning, I wonder if she understands the gravity of our situation.

Breathing through a mantra does not change the print on our monthly financial statements from red to blue. I wish that my wife could see this and quit bugging me to join her.

Here is the bargain I am willing to make. If you, Mr. Andrews, can help me to see some light, in all of this mindfulness stuff, I would be willing to sit with my wife daily and exercise some kind of spiritual calling. If you can’t, she will keep her mindfulness journeys to herself and not bug me about them. Deal?

A: Sorry, I don’t make deals. But I am interested in mindfulness and I, like your wife, think that a few ventures into mindfulness might help everyone survive what has been a devastating year.

We are getting all of it this year, aren’t we — a worse drought by far than what plagued our foreparents in the Dirty Thirties, a universal pandemic that seems to mutate its way out of every antidote and forest fires and prairie grassland blazes fogging up what is left of our atmosphere. It’s tough.

In so many ways we are helpless in the face of whatever nature or the disrespect of the human condition has left us.

The call for mindfulness is not necessarily going to spring fresh showers to our morning rituals. It is not going to resolve the pandemic and it is not likely to snuff out all of those devastating fires. Most of the resolutions to our problems will sprinkle forth from either Mother Nature or whatever is your spiritual drive. Mindfulness gives us the tools with which we might deal more effectively with those poor hands we have been dealt. Remember, we are dealing with prairie farmers here. They are within themselves a character known for its creativity, its intellectual determination and its productivity.

The problem is that for some of our neighbours the stresses and tensions brought on by the drought or the pandemic are running interference with those natural abilities each of them has to better think through their problems and figure out those needed mechanisms to survive and even to grow a bit. Mindfulness, the ability to look inside our inner selves while passing no judgment, opens the door to personal creativity and perhaps even for developing new strategies for beating this, the year that was. I hope that you will join your wife for her early morning meditations.

Jacklin Andrews is a family counsellor from Saskatchewan. Contact: jandrews@producer.com.

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