Mindfulness Revisited

Mindfulness.

The latest ‘it’ word. Everyone has been talking about mindfulness for a while now, but why has it lasted so long? The latest craze tends to come and then fade out, but mindfulness hasn’t done that.

There’s good reason:  it works!
For all kinds of mental health concerns, it is the act of being rushed away by the onslaught of one’s own thoughts that tend to perpetuate the negativity. From anxiety, to OCD, to psychosis, the running thoughts tend to be what keeps one stuck inside the mind.

Mindfulness, on the other hand, invites us to focus on what is going on right now. To stop, and look around and breathe deep, and find the now.

Several suggestions on how to do that can be found in this previous blog: Mindfulness Beads Activity Suggestions

If you’re looking for a definition of what mindfulness is, try this blog: What is ‘Mindfulness’?

How have I personally used mindfulness?

I’m going to be completely open and honest here — I have a diagnosis of Psychosis NOS (Not Otherwise Stated) and things had been completely under control for years, but I had a really rough past two years after the death of a partner. It all culminated this past holiday with a psychotic break from reality. I spent two weeks over Christmas as an inpatient at a local mental health facility.  They had lots of great programming and they mentioned mindfulness and goal-setting a lot of times, but it wasn’t until very recently that I sat down to talk to a friend, and fellow Reiki practitioner, that things finally started to fall back in to place for me.

One of the things that really hit home for me was his mantra “I am in control of my thoughts”. At the time, it seemed like such a simple thing to think, but the more I started to use it, the more profound I realized it actually was.

When my thoughts start racing, I often feel like that is something I just have no say or no control over, it takes me along for a wild ride. But after that conversation with my friend, I started throwing that one simple phrase at these racing thoughts. “I am in control of my thoughts.” I’d repeat it over and over again like a mantra:  I am in control of my thoughts — I am in control of my thoughts — I am in control of my thoughts…. And the more I repeated it, the more it became true. My racing mind slowed down and I was able to think only those words I was repeating. It felt like I had a shield between me and the parts that I felt I couldn’t control. Only now, I realized I WAS controlling those parts. I was allowing myself to let my thoughts run.

Please don’t think with these words I’m saying that I was at _fault_ for the racing thoughts in the first place. Mental health is a tricky beast and taming it is even trickier. So, if you try this technique and it doesn’t work for you, know that you haven’t failed, just that this isn’t the one that will work — you WILL find the one that does, if you keep searching!

Another mantra I have used since then to help me get through, after I’ve got my thoughts under control with the first one, is “I am love.” I just repeat it over and over again:  I am love — I am love — I am love…. And I find that it combats all the negative thoughts that I have, especially when I’m worried that people are looking at me or whispering about me or worse yet, laughing at me.  If I am love, then of COURSE they would be doing those things, because I am beautiful and interesting and full of joy! So it no longer matters whether they are or they aren’t.  (One thing I’ve realized over time is that generally speaking, other people are much too worried about themselves to take much interest in a stranger, or even a friend … so those fears are generally unfounded!)

Once I’ve gotten the racing thoughts under control, then I like to ground myself with some specific mindfulness acts, like something from the Activity Suggestions. The one I use most is #1: Take note of 2 thins you can see, 2 things you can smell, 2 things you can hear,2 things you can touch, 2 most prominent thoughts right now.  I find that this activity brings me down into my body by connecting with all of my senses. I find it very calming. And it also roots me in my current situation, whether that is standing in line at the DMV, or at the beach with family, or out for the night with friends.

Being present and aware is the best way to enjoy any experience and it is also a good way to get through moments you don’t want to be a part of — be present, experience them and then move on.

See if you can practice any of the mindfulness activities suggested in the earlier blog, or if you can find a way to make the mantra I suggested work for you, or maybe you have found your own already? I’d love if you shared in the comments below.

Here’s to being mindful in all we do!

A blessing

May you awaken to the mystery of being here and enter the quiet immensity of your own presence.

May you have joy and peace in the temple of your senses.

May you receive great encouragement when new frontiers beckon.

May you respond to the call of your gift and find the courage to follow its path.

May the flame of anger free you from falsity.

May warmth of heart keep your presence aflame and may anxiety never linger about you.

May your outer dignity mirror an inner dignity of soul.

May you take time to celebrate the quiet miracles that seek no attention.

May you be consoled in the secret symmetry of your soul.

May you experience each day as a sacred gift woven around the heart of wonder.

— John O’Donohue

A new leaf for a new year?

We start each brand new year with sayings like “this year I’m turning over a new leaf!” or “out with the old, in with the new” but the problem is, we’ve spent so much time investing in those old habits it is so hard to just sweep them out the door, we instead sweep them under the rug, so we can pull them out when no one is looking and wrap ourselves up with the comfort of them once more! Continue reading

Soul-baring and New Beginnings

My thoughts are jumbled.  This blog is quite different from the previous and most certainly of a more personal nature.  I was about to start this post off with an apology. To say that I’m sorry for the disorderly nature of my writing, and ask you, the reader, to bear with me… but the truth is, if you want to, you will and if you can’t be bothered, you wont, regardless of my apology.  I apologize too often. I take on the guilt and shame of actions that have little to do with me or my control. I seek permission for things that are at the same time both my right by virtue of being alive and not within the permission-granting domain of whom I am seeking it from.  If that makes sense, then maybe you know where I am coming from.

My journey of self-discovery has shown that much of this stems from abuse in my past and that which still plays out in my present.

puppet-masterIt is about Power and Control.  Who has it, how will they gain it, and how can you keep it?  If I am asking for your permission for something, am I manipulating you into believing you are in control (like, say, an End User Agreement? As though you ever really had any choice but to agree in the first place?)  If I am apologizing, am I stealing your reaction to my action, attempting to justify what maybe I knew better than to do in the first place? And where does that leave you in the end?

But I am off topic.

I wanted to write about today. I also wanted to write about the past several months. I’ll start chronologically and work my way up to today and why I started this post.

Back in August 2013, I began a journey. The truth is, I took the first baby steps in November 2012, but through red-tape and bureaucracy, it wasn’t until I took a very bold step in July and forced the issue, that in August I was able to begin an OHIP covered weight-loss program. I’ve struggled with body image issues and weight gain for most of my life, but certainly all of my adult life. I started the specific diet portion in September, along with an increased activity plan — I was walking every night, a minimum of 2km (for me, that was a VAST change). By November 2013 I had lost 40lbs, just over 10% of my body weight.

In December, things started going awry in other parts of my life, both within my relationship with my partner, and with my daughter’s mental health.  As a result, my own mental health took a downturn and I lost my drive.  My WILL remained, and I even joined the YWCA gym the first week of December.  As things progressively got worse with my daughter, they culminated in the last 3 weeks of her being physically ill (a flu turned into a lung infection, and even as I write this, she is coughing in her sleep in the other room.)  Needless to say, with the stress and the holidays, I let my diet and exercise routine fall by the wayside. I have yet to step back on a scale, but I wouldn’t be surprised with a 10 or 15lb weight re-gain in the last one and a half months.

This brings us to the events of today.  I have been primary nurse-maid to my daughter, home from school, since December 27th and my edges are beginning to fray, nay, perhaps come apart at the seams entirely. This evening I set down a top-heavy bottle, which toppled over and knocked a bowl of dry cereal off the counter, to scatter across the entire floor and I cried. Later I went to close a bag of potato chips (see, totally off the diet!) and grabbed it from the wrong end, upending the bag across my lap, the couch and the floor; my eyes moistened again.  Later still, I set down a drink and bumped the table it was on, only to have it spill all over. This time I didn’t tear up, but I was so completely DONE with being clumsy and fumbling.  Yes, okay, two days ago I was up until 3:30am at the hospital with my child. Yes, okay, last night I was up until 2:30am rubbing her back while she brought up her stomach contents. Yes, okay, I’m stressed for numerous other reasons and I’m feeling lost and alone and the immediate circle of the world I live in is changing around me in unpredictable ways and I’m scared and frazzled. But enough is enough already!

Today, 15 minutes ago, I got out a box and started going through my kitchen cupboards. I removed all the unhealthy snacks and foodstuffs I have been accumulating. I reorganized my diet-related items and put them in easy reach. I filled my 7-day vitamin holder and resolved to once more take them every day (it’s been about 3 months since I did that on a regular basis). And I made an action plan.

I am going to take back my life.  Yes, my daughter is still ill and I am for the most part still house-bound, and the weather SUCKS anyhow.

But I have things I can be doing in my home — decluttering and downsizing of items I no longer need. I can donate and recycle much of them.  I have projects I honestly don’t want to get rid of, but which I will catalogue and date — if I haven’t started them within the next month, out they go, too.

I will re-start my at-home fitness routine, with the reflex tubing and the body-weight reps.

They say it is easy to have a spurt of drive, but maintaining the energy level and willpower required to keep going is where most people falter.

And that is why I take to the public forum.  I am writing to you here and now, stating my intention, putting it out to the world. I will take back control of my life. I will once again focus on the healthy lifestyle I want to live for my daughter and myself. I will no longer allow despair, depression and negativity to cloud my judgement. I am better than the junk I have been feeding to my body and I am bigger than the lies I have been feeding to my soul.

I can do this and you will all be my witnesses.

2014 belongs to me and my true intention.

Intention.

Getting involved in your own transformation

Mindfulness is such a large and yet simple concept. It works on the micro and macro scale.  Being aware of the feelings inside your body; being aware of the feelings across the planet. Looking at how you decide to travel (by foot, bike, automobile, train, plane…) and how that affects your body, as well as how it impacts the planet… or looking at how you decide to vote (whether you do at all, whether you CAN at all, whether your party has a runner in your riding…) how that impacts your thinking, and also how it might change your Country.

Mindfulness is more than just your own self interest. Intention never ends at your front door. Our actions are carried further and farther than we ourselves can realize. Continue reading

What’s in a spell?

What are spells?
Spells are a vehicle for materializing our own will. All magic comes from tapping into the energy that exists in the world around us all the time, for everyone. Never let anyone try to convince you that you must be ‘special’ or ‘different’ in order to tap into this energy; that only they have “the Power” or that they are “more Powerful” than you. This simply is not the case.

Each and every one born on this planet has the ability to harness the energy here. Continue reading

Thank-you!

Along with Mindfulness, another important step is Thankfulness, or Gratitude.

Being more than just aware of where we are and how we got there or where we’re going — when we take time to focus on who has helped us along the way and pay thanks to those people, we are actually enhancing our own sense of joy in our lives. Continue reading

It wont happen over night…

“Things are not always what they seem; the first appearance deceives many; the intelligence of a few perceives what has been carefully hidden.” ― Phaedrus

Mindfulness takes time.

However old you are today, if you have lived a life thus far without actively participating in Mindfulness activities, then you have learned to cope in various other ways. These ways have become habits and habits are hard to break. Continue reading