Reclining in the dentist’s chair today I was struck by the power of sense of smell when it comes to memories. Sure the noise of a drill boring into my jaw was a little disconcerting, and I didn’t much enjoy the sensation of a miscellaneous liquid trickling down my neck, but this was nothing compared to the smell of fragmenting bone and my own blood mixed with minty mouthwash. Yes my friends, that’s my take home memory for today. Enjoy your dinner.
Escaping the chair, I was glad to step outside and joyfully inhale the sweet chocolate-scented air that is so quintessentially York. But this also came with the recent painful reminder from a friend that my breathing could be improved in an alarmingly large number of ways. Posture, shoulders, diaphragm, neck - all parts of the body I chat about on a daily basis, but who knew they all need a lot of considered work? Allegedly. Hmph. I've only really ever taken notice of my breathing when I've been 1)physically winded by my boisterous junior editors, or 2)attempting to make a phone-call whilst fending off a cold. Apologies to anyone who's been on the, er, "receiving" end of that. But starting to think more about this actually forms the basis of mindfulness, meditation, and relaxation, some of the alternative therapies that we utilise to help with wide range of issues such as anxiety, depression, insomnia and stress. As part of the climate crisis, the NHS is looking to reduce its carbon footprint, and that means reducing everything. Every item from the largest CT scanner to the tiniest pill has its own carbon footprint, and whilst medicines are sometimes vital, if we can also try to help people in ways that use non-tablet treatments, this is better for the planet.
This afternoon, as a grown woman struggling to swill mouthwash and correctly direct my own spit, the idea of being able to exert any control over breathing - which I had thus far assumed to be largely automatic - seemed unnatural and frankly unlikely. So it's no surprise that patients embarking on mindfulness frequently return saying it’s too hard or they get too easily distracted. However, with the right support, practice and perseverance, any of these techniques can be mastered. Just like taking up any new hobby, right?
5 hours later and the local anaesthetic has now worn off leaving a painful reminder of what being stabbed in the cheek and having a quick gum trim feels like. Eating hurts, I still can’t say "ssss", sing or whistle. So that’s basically my favourite communication methods gone. But when my face returns to its former glory in the next hour, I'll be back spreading my message about greener healthier living. Join me won't you? I'll bet you know someone who does yoga or mindfulness. Have you heard of the app Headspace? Prefer to try relaxing audio files to start with? Or a podcast from Wellbeing Radio? Perhaps you like to snuggle up with a book, if so then try this superb article. Or if you fancy a break, the Madhyamaka meditation centre in nearby Pocklington is very well reviewed.
Now I normally try to end these posts with a gag, but I've had plenty of unpleasant experience with that reflex today. Forgive me...