I very frequently apply the insight from my donkey story to whatever life experiences I am currently facing. This is a story about research conducted with two boys. One was placed in a room full of toys and the other was placed in a room full of manure and they were left alone for the day. When the researchers returned, they went first to the boy with all the toys and as they neared his door they heard him crying, when they asked him why he replied that the toys were broken and he was bored. As they neared the boy with the manure they expected it to be even worse, but at the door they heard whistling and singing and scraping sounds, intrigued they opened the door to see him busily digging away. ‘What are you doing?’ they asked – ‘With all this manure’ the boy replied, ‘There must be a donkey close by, and I want to find him!’ The moral of this story is that life may give you a big pile of manure at times, so dig for the donkey; there always is one if you look carefully!
Recently I experienced my very first hospital visit and major surgery and this was scheduled to happen while my husband was away in Australia for four weeks. I started to look for the donkey (donkeys) in this situation and I found several. May I introduce them to you, with the hope they may also serve you at some time in your life:
1. The power of future planning
I thought it could be quite easy to slip into worry, dread and fear of the impending operation, especially being on my own. Each day, as I did my Mind Chi Basic 8 minute routine: http://www.mindchi.com/mind-chi-basic-8-steps/ I really concentrated on Step 7 – Future 24 hour planning and how to BE for the things I had to do. What are the most helpful emotions in such a situation? For me it was trust in the medical professionals, knowing everyone wanted me to be well, curiosity at this new adventure, maintaining my sense of humour, keeping open and receptive and seeing myself well and thriving.
Not only did I do my Mind Chi Basic 8 several times a day, really focusing on Step 7, but if EVER a doubt or fear crept in, I quickly replaced it with what I wanted. I did this for a week. Even on the night before as I was alone, I was very pleased to discover that I was feeling fine. A friend dropped me at the hospital and I sat waiting on my own for the five hours as people came in and out to get me prepared, I was delighted (and a bit surprised, I have to confess) that I felt no fear or apprehension. I was open, curious and involved right up to the moment when I was excited about going through the theatre doors (as you see on TV) but slipped unconscious just before! That attitude was maintained all through the hospital stay and the 11 days at home alone and to this day.
Donkey # 1. – Have you found that you may ‘know’ something and then an experience allows you to get to ‘know’ it at an altogether higher level? The potency of future planning your emotional state for the next 24 hours is incredibly empowering. Donkey # 1 is going to be a well treasured and worked donkey as I employ this emotional muscle!
2. A new time perspective – be a mono-tasker!
I am usually a person of fairly high energy levels from waking to sleep, I have several things on the go and practice time and motion, carry two items, rather than making two trip and now I can’t!
I must listen to my body and rest it quite frequently. And I do. What was fascinating (to me!) is that I consider more what needs to be done and how it would best be done BEFORE I leap in to do it. Then with concentration I do just that one thing.
To my surprise, as I toted up what I had achieved at the end of a day, it was impressive – AND it felt gentle! That was an eye opener!
Donkey # 2. – I KNOW that multi-tasking is a poor use of your brain’s control and leads to several jobs being done in an inferior way, now I also know it saps your time and energy and you will be far MORE effective, relaxed and energised mono-tasking, not multi-tasking! Donkey # 2 will help me to remember to be more gracious in my time use – I shall have ‘Donkey time’!
3. There is always a way!
Success – I had made myself my first cup of tea at home, great! Problem – I can’t stand for long and I can’t carry a cup with two crutches! Solution – put a rucksack on my front and slip a lidded coffee mug into the front pouch!
This was my first time to manage on crutches and I suddenly realised how difficult many simple jobs become. The whole day was riddled with simple tasks that I would normally do without a second thought, suddenly nearly stumping me. And IF it could fall on the floor (I may not bend) it seems it WOULD do so!
However, one by one, I was able to work out a solution and do everything I wanted or needed to do. Donkey # 3. – It is good to be challenged. Sometimes life becomes a little repetitive and it is all worked out from previous experiences, so to be faced with many different situations was interesting. I looked at each like a game at the fair – how can I win the prize with THIS one??!! And my prize was even better than a teddy bear in that it was the feeling of satisfaction you achieve when you have solved the problem. Donkey # 3 showed me that there is ALWAYS a way!
4. Heightened appreciation
Probably because I am going a little slower, I find my appreciation of nearly everything is greatly enhanced. A shower feels amazing; when the lovely ladies from the ‘Re-ablement’ Service came to assist me (what a super program, shout out for them) and were drying between my toes, I discovered how ticklish I am, we were both roaring with laughter- great way to start the day! The wonderful friends who visited, helped, chatted, sent flowers and cards and supported me was deeply touching and appreciated. That cup of tea, sitting in my garden, even sitting up in bed looking out at the trees waving in the breeze – heavenly! Most of all, life itself, all the opportunities that stretch before me, how thoughtful and considerate people are, very refreshing when the media makes you sometimes feel otherwise about human-kind.
Donkey # 4. – Mind Chi Step 8 is one minute of Gratitude, so every day I do have at least one minute, plus just knowing that you will have that minute helps you to focus and remember all those little (and big) things you may wish to recall. Well, now I have to extend that minute (and as it is the last one, I just drift into a happy, grateful reverie) so I may pack in all my gratitude’s. Thank you Donkey # 4 you are on my Gratitude map every day.
By Vanda North – The Changemaker Group – email: email@example.com