Mindfulness Blog – Week 1
WF Mindfulness Will Dekorte


 The positive impact of mindfulness in the workplace is increasingly clear, and we are delighted to be collaborating with Barry Lee to roll out a Mindfulness Programme here at William Fry. Will Dekorte from our IT team has agreed to share his personal experience of participating in the programme over the coming weeks. Read his first blog here.  



When I saw the email arrive in my inbox that the Firm would be offering a six-week course in Mindfulness I jumped at the chance, I don't think I have clicked accept so fast to something in my life.  The only things I am mindful of are materialistic things in my life and my relationship with my wife Joanne. I am mindful and obsessive about "things" mostly, keys, my phone, my wallet. I am mindful that my handbrake is on when I park the car every morning because I left it off once on holiday and the car rolled into a wall in Alicante, let's not go to deep into that story. The one thing I am not mindful of is the most important part of my life, my mind.  For quite some time I have felt that I should do something about it, I don't know; Yoga? Therapy? Tai Chi? (watching my neighbour doing Tai Chi in the lashing rain didn't inspire me). I wasn't all that enthused about any of those and when it comes to looking after my brain box, I (like many people I suspect) prefer to push mental health to one side rather than doing something about it.

I figure mental health and mindfulness go hand in hand. From what I know of mindfulness, (which is very little) I thought was about being at one with yourself in the moment. When I was 24 my GP gave me a CD on mindfulness techniques. I listened to it once and thought what sort of cod's wallop has this guy got me listening to? In hindsight I probably should have listened to it and not been so dismissive, but at 24 body scanning was not top of my agenda. I suffer from what you could broadly term anxiety, there are a couple of things in life that have contributed to it but in general I always remember being a worrier. I come from a long line of worriers on my mother's side. My mind is always thinking about or worrying about the next thing, I am never happy in the moment. In the lead up to going on holiday I worry for months about everything that could go wrong before I even get on the plane. Added to my general worrier disposition, over the past few years I have had a few things happen that have caused me to need be more mindful. 

In 2010 I had two strokes. In 2015 I spent two horrible years going through IVF with Joanne with no success and to top it all off I started having panic attacks last year. The panic attacks were the cherry on the top of it all. Since my stroke when I feel the slightest thing going wrong with my body somehow my mind goes right back to the moment of having a stroke. Having a stroke is not a nice experience, I would not recommend it. At the time I lost all feeling in the left side of my body, my speech was slurred, and I couldn't walk.  Not a barrel of laughs at all, but I came out of it pretty alright, I think. Last January I suffered my first panic attack, this time I thought this was the actual day, I had a bout of flu and was up sick in bed, and as I attempted to walk down the stairs when Joanne came home, I started to tremble uncontrollably like nothing I have ever experienced. The trembling got worse, and bang - I lost control of my speech.  My arms locked up like a T-Rex, I couldn't think, I couldn't speak, my head was swimming, no in fact it was drowning. I looked a right state, but the two paramedics were top notch, they were able to see it was a panic attack straight way, there was a lot of talking and oxygen that followed, after about an hour I was back to normal. In time honoured fashion my first thought after the ambulance lads left was to worry about paying the ambulance bill. I should have got help after this - I didn't. Same thing happened in Valencia on holiday last year, this time Joanne was able to talk me down and I got through it. I should have got help after this one - I didn't.

That is why I am writing this blog today, this is step one of being more mindful. The universe put the help right in front of me and I simply couldn't ignore it now. I want to take care of my anxiety, I want to be more mindful of what is going on around me, I want to stop for just a few minutes a day and appreciate the now.  Barry, the course leader started in a similar situation and now he is teaching others about how to be mindful. Mindfulness is something everyone's mental health can benefit from but when you slow down and gain an inner sense of calm that can also benefit the people around you.

This week's class was mostly an introductory session about what we want to achieve for the next six weeks. We also did a ten-minute body scan meditation, I certainly didn't picture doing this in a room of colleagues, closing my eyes and meditating. That ten minutes was the most peace I have had in quite some time, which sounds crazy but to achieve such calm in ten mins (while in work) was the breakthrough I needed. Since Thursday I have been trying to do my fifteen minutes of mindfulness at home and already, I think it is working. I will report back each week and by the end of the six weeks hope to achieve a new sense of mindfulness. Any progress will be better than where I started - I should have listened to the CD more than once, eh?