A Chichester woman who was bed-bound for five years while suffering from Lyme disease is taking on a 791km walk across the north Spain to raise money for two charities.
Mindfulness coach Kate Delaney started her trek along the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route last Wednesday in St Jean Pied de Port in southern France, and will walk across northern Spain to Santiago de Compostela and then on to the Atlantic Ocean at Finistere over the next six weeks.
At 24 years old, Kate had just completed her PhD when she experienced chest pains and debilitating weakness on a return flight from New Zealand.
The symptoms worsened until she was having frequent seizures and unable to leave her bed.
Kate spent five years completely bed-bound, unable to walk, talk, read, write or even listen to music, and experienced overwhelming feelings of sadness and fear as a result.
She was introduced to mindfulness during this time and found it enabled her to cope with the impact of the disease on her life.
She said: “Whilst confined to my bed mindfulness taught me how to quieten my mind and free myself from painful thoughts and feelings.
“I couldn’t change the situation, but mindfulness enabled me to experience a sense of peace despite my circumstances.”
Kate was finally diagnosed with advanced neurological Lyme disease six years later and started receiving the antibiotic treatment which eventually led her back to full health.
As she started walking again she took great comfort from taking her mindfulness practice into the outdoors and experienced many benefits from quietening her mind and reconnecting with nature.
Kate is now a mindfulness coach and mentor and uses the techniques she has learned to help others find a sense of calm.
She believes mindfulness is an accessible tool for everyone, regardless of circumstances, and should be taught to children in school from a young age so they have a tool for life.
She said: “I want to spread the word that mindfulness can help you cope with even life’s greatest challenges.
“As we learn that we are not our mind and that we are not responsible for the thoughts and feelings it generates we are truly free, even when we are experiencing adversity.”
Kate is raising money for Lyme Disease Action and the Mindfulness in Schools Project.