Rocking with the Reaper
3rd February 2021
written by Jayne Pigford
Wow, I’ve just written a book! Well, I say ‘just’ but it took me nearly 20 years; about ten writing most of it then another ten editing and ‘finishing’ it; I was terrified of actually getting it out there as my inner critic was harsh…‘People will think you’re a narcissistic nut-case!’… ‘Who do you think you are?!’…Having grown up in a pretty traumatised family in 1970’s working-class Yorkshire, criticism was more common than praise and we didn’t write books in my neighbourhood!
My habitual, self-berating ‘programmed’ thoughts were stopping me doing what I was desperate to do. After seven months in hospital aged 31 and twenty years of subsequent medical horrors, including being on kidney dialysis for a decade, I wanted to share my experiences of being a patient who had both brilliant and traumatic hospital care. I also wanted to try and connect with fellow-patients, people who, like me, can’t/couldn’t have children and those experiencing other deep struggles - including a fear of death! (How timely Covid is!)
My experiences had led me to mindfulness and I wanted to show how its beautiful philosophy and techniques have helped me to cope with my traumatic experiences and even taught me to dance happily with Mr Reaper!
I also wanted to write down what I feel privileged to have learned about we humans from my studies and experiences as a social worker, psychotherapist and traveller. I’d been brought up attending a Strict Baptist chapel which taught me that we’re born sinful, yet in my decade in Child Protection I’d never met an evil baby and none of my psychotherapy clients acted defensively for no reason.
Informed by attachment theory, positive psychology, neuroscience, Buddhist thought and my own experiences, I came to the conclusion that the great sense of love, peace, happiness, connectedness and awe which I’d felt on my death-bed is what’s at the heart of all of us when our egos and habitual, danger-focused thoughts get out of the way (being reduced to an immobile body on a bed with Death wandering about is a great ego-tamer!)
As I recovered from my close brushes with death, my ego slowly regained strength and by the time I’d almost finished my book it was on my case big-time ‘Don’t be silly, you can’t put a book out there, you’ll look ridiculous!...’ Yet my heart just had to tell people about the fact that we’re biologically ‘wired to connect’, that we release the happiness enhancing and body-healing hormone oxytocin when we’re giving and receiving kindness, or even just thinking kind thoughts. I wanted to shout from the rooftops that we have so much loving potential to change our crazy-making, cut-throat, earth-plundering, free market system and create a more caring and sustainable world!
My heart also wanted to share my Grandad’s poems. Arthur died the day before my fifth birthday but his tatty book of poems had been a big part of my life growing up; Mum used to read them out to my brother and I with tears pouring down her face. He’d had some published in the local newspaper but had always wanted to write a book; weaving them into mine has felt wonderful!
The emergence of some insane leaders further strengthened my heart’s calling for me to stand up and try and do something to try and counteract the madness but I think my real shift came when it really sank in that it was just my vain, self-centred ego and fearful thoughts stopping me from sticking my head above the parapet. Now determined, I rang self-publisher Sarah at Goldcrest Books and when she told me that she had three dogs, none of them with four legs, I knew she was the woman for me…
Accepting that there are going to be many more moments when Shame tries to annihilate me, that I may get scathing reviews and be considered weird by some people, I signed my contract, did a final final edit and threw my book off into ‘the river’. I’ve no idea who the river will take it to or how they and I will be impacted. I have no control. All I know is that in this moment I’m warm, comfy, my belly’s full and, globally speaking, I’m living like a queen. I have a miraculous body, live on a miraculous world - and my heart is peaceful, having done what she needed to do...
Link for reviews on Amazon and international purchases - getbook.at/RWTR
My website (PayPal required) www.mindfulnessnottingham.co.uk/store
Five Leaves www.fiveleavesbookshop.co.uk
Buy From Amazon HERE
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