The Mindfulness of Blue Blankets (or the Blue Blankets of Mindfulness)
By Sally Cherry, Aug 1 2016 09:25AM
When I first embarked upon my journey with mindfulness I could never have imagined what an impact it would have on my life and I certainly would never have anticipated the role that a cheap blue blanket would play on this journey.
I joined a Breathworks mindfulness course at a time in my life where I was almost overwhelmed with stress. Things were so bad that I literally felt that parts of my body were vibrating. I knew nothing about mindfulness but I was desperate to find something to help me. My course was at Birmingham Buddhist Centre where, not surprisingly, the rooms are well equipped for meditating. At the beginning of my first body scan I was tenderly tucked up under a soft blue blanket by the teacher and as I was lying there thinking “I cant possibly lie here for a minute longer”, it was only the care and love in the tucking up, symbolised by the blanket I was wrapped in, that kept me on the floor.
Being the kind of person that has to have a new notebook and pens for a new project I soon equipped myself with a mat, a cushion and a blue blanket (£5.00 John Lewis value range!), and to this day I almost always meditate with that blanket wrapped around me or over me and I love the soft warm feel of it even if my sit isn’t feeling soft or warm that day.
When I set myself up as a teacher and had to buy equipment, of course I bought more soft blue blankets. I always take care to tuck people up in them (and I often tell them my own early days story) and even if we are not meditating lying on the floor everyone has a blanket and people often wrap themselves up in them.
At some point the blanket collection took on a life of its own. I sent my daughter off to university with one, in the hope that even if she didn’t practice the mindfulness she had learned at least it would sooth and comfort her. In one year they were used to cover hay bales at my nieces lovely outdoor wedding and used to wrap up the guests at my daughters 21st Birthday barbeque on a cold August afternoon.
Recently my mother, sister and I looked after my father at home at the end of his life. In the last couple of weeks two of my blue blankets played a major role, They were used to keep him warm and comfortable, they were rolled up under his head when his neck hurt and under his feet when he was at risk of getting pressure sores. While we were looking after Dad together I sometime felt intensely mindful of the whole experience, sharing the experience with my mother and sister, the privilege of being able to give him the death he would have chosen and the loving care he and we got from our local hospice and district nurses. The lovely soft blue blankets became an integral part of this experience and I believe comforted Dad in his last few days. Somehow they came to symbolise the love and comfort that we were giving him and when he died he was tucked into his coffin with one of them and my mother has kept the other one.
Footnote: Due to my fathers illness I had to postpone one session of the course I was running at the time and cancel another. The participants on the course were lovely and kind to me. As a way of apologising for messing them about and thanking them for being so nice about it I bought them all a nice soft blue blanket!
Sally Cherry teaches Mindfulness in South Birmingham. She can be contacted at Sally@sallycherryassociates.co.uk or 07846 087647