It was an impossible ask, though it had sounded easy enough when it was first suggested by Terri. Cath shook her head in irritation now, knowing that if she didn’t follow through on what she had committed to do, Terri would know. Terri had a way of seeing right through any verbal sidesteps that Cath took in their sessions, which made Cath want to do a quick Google search on tips on lying convincingly. But that would take as much work to learn as doing the “assignments” that Terri set her each week.

It was all part of Cath’s “new year, new me” approach. She must have been talking about needing to make some changes, as her three sisters had chipped in and paid for a dozen sessions with Terri, a life coach that they knew. This had been a surprise, but Cath had faked her appreciation on Christmas Day. Terri asked Cath countless questions in the first session about her life, her goals, and what she wanted to change for the year ahead. The assignment for week one had included a mission statement about the kind of person Cath could envisage herself becoming. This would include the creation of a vision board by the fourth session. That was a fortnight away, and Cath regarded this as a future problem.

The immediate obstacle was caused by a flippant remark Cath made at the last session about wanting to be able to relax and enjoy the moment. Terri’s face had lit up at this, and she had talked through various strategies, including meditation and mindfulness. Cath had arranged her features in what she hoped was her interested expression. Her mind had raced off in a spiral about what a load of nonsense mindfulness was – what did it even mean, who had time for that, couldn’t she just download an app and tick it off her list? It was only when Terri asked for a commitment from Cath for the week ahead that she snapped back to attention.

‘So for our next session, you’ll be able to share at least one example of how you took the time to have a mindful moment, being present rather than worrying over the past or fretting about the future?’

Cath had nodded, flicking a look at the clock behind Terri’s head and standing up, glad that the session was over for a week.

But, as usual, the week had passed by in a blur. All she had left was an hour before she’d have to drive over to Terri’s. Cath headed into the back garden and sat on a bench seat under the maple tree. How hard could it be, this mindfulness caper? She closed her eyes, thinking back to the last session and trying to recall some of Terri’s suggestions. Focus on one thing, such as the breath. Cath wrinkled her nose, but she knew that she had to at least try.

She opened her eyes and breathed in and out steadily, resting her hands along her thighs. As she relaxed back into the chair, her breath slower now, she spotted a cloud moving across the sky. She resisted the urge to look up the types of clouds, something which had not occurred to her before this moment, and kept an eye on the cloud while breathing in and out, in and out. Her mind still chattered away, but it was as though the volume had been turned down a notch. Cath watched the cloud as it subtly changed, its shape shifting in ways that were beautiful to behold. Her breath was deep and calm, and she could feel her body relax, her limbs heavy as a sense of peace flowed through her. As the cloud finally moved beyond her vision, Cath smiled and wriggled her toes before getting to her feet. Maybe Terri was onto something after all.

I’m participating in this blogging challenge for the month of January, which supports starting the year on the “write” track. You can find out more about the challenge, join in and read other posts here.

Photo: relax pillow