School of Movement Medicine - Mindfulness in Motion

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Issue: September Newsletter

By Bernadeta
This is a story of addiction, of choices, of a struggle, of a dancing warrior, a fool and a wise elder all related to financing my Movement Medicine Apprenticeship with the money I saved when I stopped smoking. Why awakening? Because I feel it was the beginning of a real change of direction in my life. Its now nearly 10 years later and so much has changed since, purely because I have made the first step, and a commitment to myself, that I will not live an unlived life.

I was 29 and it felt like I was going nowhere with my life. I had been smoking tobacco since I was 17, and I had been smoking Marijuana for the past four years almost every day. I had just celebrated yet another birthday and I was afraid. No purpose. No perspectives. Not knowing. What I knew was that I am addicted and that I can’t carry on like that any longer. I had two attempts in the past to stop smoking, not strong enough impulses though. Each time after three months I was back to rolling my ciggies.

I had times when I smoked more, times when I smoked less, but nonetheless, I still was a smoker and I was spending a fortune on it. That very morning after my birthday I woke up at my friends house. Her daughter was getting ready for school and the TV was on. Half asleep I was listening to a morning program and what they were talking about – the side effects of smoking tobacco, especially for women. I was listening and feeling tightness in my stomach as if they were talking about me. I had images of me getting older, my skin being grey, my teeth yellow, my lungs and blood clogged up with poison. And I knew this is not how I see myself in the future. I used to think I will smoke till the end of my life, that I will be dying with a cigarette or a joint in my hand. That morning changed that vision. It became clear to me, it’s time to stop smoking. Now.

I felt I can do it this time. Maybe I didn’t know who I am and what is it I want to do with my life, but I knew that I don’t want to smoke for the rest of my life. The day went fine, no cigarette, no problem. I was busy, I didn’t even think of smoking. Until the evening. And the internal dialogue started: what about one last cigarette? hmmmm, last wee one? Well, but if it’s a last one, that means I will never stop because there will always be another last one. Try to have a day without a cigarette then. And see what happens tomorrow. Step by step. Day by day. You don’t have to decide now that for the rest of your life you will not smoke ever again. But try one day with no cigarette. The temptation was huge but I was resilient and stubborn. I yearned for change. I wanted it. I was strong. I felt inside, now is the time. And it was my first day without tobacco for a very long time.

I was in Poland visiting my parents at that time. I thought, well well, what’s going to happen when you get back to Edinburgh? Both my flatmates smoked. And there was my favourite painkiller – weed. I used to wake up and to cheer myself up, had a wee tiny joint. I decided to deal with how to be smoke free in Edinburgh later, when I am back. On my return to Edinburgh I felt tobacco free. No temptation for tobacco. No temptation to have a tiny wee joint in the morning, what’s the point of getting lightly stoned if I don’t smoke tobacco? .... What?! I was beginning to understand that it was tobacco I was really addicted to, not Marijuana. I didn’t need to smoke it in the morning because I wasn’t smoking tobacco. It was an eye opening. I didn’t stop smoking weed at that point but I stopped smoking it during the day. I was busy, I had things to do, I had so much energy, I didn’t need to be stoned. Weed came to be only an evening relaxant from now on, unlike before, all day.

Slowly, taking it day by day for the first time I could see myself without a cigarette in the future, beyond those three months, which were the critical point. First time I could imagine myself that I will not smoke ever again. The decision to stop smoking came with another one. The money I used to spend on Marijuana and cigarettes didn’t exist, it was puffed away at the end of the day. Now it had to go into a savings account. I knew how much I smoked and that I can save a lot of money and that one day there will be a reward waiting for me in my bank account and it will take me on a trip around the world or something else. Whatever!

A bag of weed costs £20, tobacco around £7. By then I smoked The American Spirit because it was a ‘healthier’ choice, expensive though! So you can imagine. A bag of Marijuana once a week, that’s £80 a month (in the old days sometimes even more) plus I can’t remember how much I was spending on tobacco. And now after I stopped smoking, that money didn’t ‘exist’ for me!!! I was religiously paying it into my bank account.

Did I smoke since, yes, no point to lie to you:)

After my mum passed away in 2011 the only way to cope was to smoke, but never on a scale like before! My flatmates were supportive and shared joints with me. I smoked a little over those two years and then I noticed a red light… you are slipping back into the old habit – stop, you have achieved so much, stop!

I stopped. I don’t say never again. I am not rigid. I still like the smell of Marijuana. If I meet with an old friend, I wouldn’t say no, but I will not spend any more hundreds of pounds on tobacco and weed.

A year after my mum died, I went to a 5 Rhythms class. I discovered the dance, I discovered that I can move and that however I move, it’s okay. Dance made me happy. I’ve been meeting amazing people, new community, no drugs, no alcohol… so different to what I used to know. In the dance I met my boyfriend who opened my eyes wider onto this practice and mindfulness. I felt like I knew nothing before. Two years later Susannah came to Edinburgh and I fell in love with her work. I didn’t know Movement Medicine will be my path, but I knew it’s powerful. The seed was planted. I started dreaming and meeting people, dancing with the gorgeous Catherine Wright, going to workshops and there was the Movement Medicine Apprenticeship! And I had money!!! because in 2009 I had made the decision to stop smoking!!! My old bad habit turned out to be my saviour! And it was the first time that I realised I am grateful for the fact that I used to smoke.

Where am I now? Who would’ve ever thought, I’ve just completed my first module of the professional training. Not everything was financed by the savings from not-smoking, but a lot. Once I had made the decision to go on to the Apprenticeship, there were still all the prerequisites… but someone whom met on the path had said to me, if you really want it, the money will come…

And it did! I am not talking about an easy money as I don’t have a wealthy granny nor rich parents (who are no longer physically with me and didn’t leave me a nice big inheritance) and I don’t play the lottery:) nor do I have a financially rewarding job. However… When I made the decision about the Apprenticeship, an opportunity came… my flatmate was moving out and I was dreading a new permanent flatmate. So I asked my landlady if I could do an Airbnb (which wasn’t that popular 5 years ago yet) and she said yes!!!

This was and is a huge help but it was a risky and a brave step, one of many, which brought me closer to where I am now – a Movement Medicine Apprentice Teacher in Training, yay!!! And soon I’ll be celebrating my 38th Birthday. What a gift! Many gratitudes!!!


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The views expressed here do not necessarily represent the views of the School of Movement Medicine. Roland Wilkinson, Nappers Crossing, Staverton, Devon TQ9 6PD, UK Tel & Fax +44 (0)1803 762255 http://www.