My interest in yoga started over 10 years ago when trying to manage the pain of auto-immune disease and hypermobility, and hand in hand with yoga goes meditation. However as much as I tried I just couldnt grasp the point of meditation. why would doing less help me do more. I felt I was already pretty good at sitting down and doing nothing, after all my biggest self hate mantra was making jokes about how lazy I was.
As I started reaserching more into Kundalini yoga in my early 20s meditation came up again – I was quite happy doing chanting during yoga practice but once again when it came to meditation with no movement I became restless and couldnt stop my mind running over the thoughts of how pointless, time wasteing and simply ridiculous the whole thing was. I wanted my mind to work faster not to slow it down or stop it, how would I achive anything doing nothing.
This anti meditaion view went on for years until eventually I had the break down of all break downs. I found myself completely burnt out, broken and unable to stop throughts rushing through my head, I didnt know what was reality and what wasnt anymore. i found myself in a psychiatric ward. Laying there in the ward in the middle of the night, in silence, 3 months pregnant and for the first time my mind started to slow down. I felt my daughter kick for the first time and I realisise I needed to change. I needed to stop thinking I knew best about everything and start listening to the advice given to me by experts.
After my breif stint in a psychiatric ward I did start listening alot more. I had a psychiatric assesment that diagnosed me with PTSD and I was put onto my first of many emotional coping skills courses that focused around mindfulness. Now this was just before mindfulness became a buzzword in personal wellbeing and the course wernt about sitting down doing big books of intricate colouring …. there was a huge array of mindfulness techniques as well as more advanced techniques such as meditation, guided and un-guided.
I remeber our first meditation session, it was close to the end of the course, you know after we understood the basics of mindfulness and how it was good to clear and distract the mind from distructive reactions to emotions. I was about 2 or 3 weeks from my due date (to give brith to Leela) and I was completely distracted by my acheing hips and the constant intence need to pee. I must have peaked at the other group members about 5 times as my mind wondered if they where doing better than me. I really wasnt very good at clearing my mind, however I had been doing this mindfulness course for 3-4 months by this point, and in the spirit of mindfulness, although I was awful at clearing my mind I didn’t judge myself for it. I didnt let myself react to the frustration, jelousy (of those I assumed where doing better than me) and pain I was feeling I accepted the way I was feeling without jusdgement and then went straight back to the task of trying to focus on relaxing my body and clearing my mind.
I went on to study more mindfulness and meditation I was intrigued how well they fitted hand in hand and how they made me feel, this sense of calm. They turned my perspective on the world upside down, realiseing it was those little moments of joy, happiness and calm that actually mattered more than the greater perspective of the outside world. Happiness became the goal, rather than these big superficial ‘acheivements’. It all came together at the perfect timeing for me, as my daughter was born just over a week after I finnished my first course and all I had a much greater appreciation for every moment I spent with her and it gave me the strength to stay positive as I was thrown into the deep end with my health as I started having syncope seizures.
Now 7 years on, I have had set backs, backs into depression and back into this trap of caring too much how my life seems based on superficial ‘achievements’ and not measuring it based on my own happiness and joy. However I know now when that happens what I need to do to reel it back in. I shut down outside distractions that pull me away from a mindfull lifestyle such as:
- Social media, you may have noticed the start on the year I had an unplanned social media detox
- I stay away from people who make me feel drained and worthless, I recognise it is sometime is perception of them and not always how they treat me that gives this effect, but that is something for me the meditate and reflct upon, to recognise what area of my self esteeem needs work to stop me self sabotageing a relationship.
- I travel less. I really enjoy having the freedom to travel about but sometimes it can be tiring and stressful and a need a break to start appreciating the ability to travel as well as appreciate our own beautiful home and the safety, space and comfort it gives us.
- Eating junk food. Excessive processed foods, sugar mainly messes with my head, it send my head into over drive anxiety and paranoia. My brain is on such a rush going so fast I over think absolutely everything. It is such an exhauting draining state, I cannot clear my mind and I start to get reactive again. I dont think anything through and I can see my old self comming back.
Getting back to a mindful lifestyle isnt all about stopping doing things though, its always about making the time to get back to doing the things that are good for me. At my best times of healing with mindfulness and bringing joy back into my life I always make sure I make time to do all of this things with mindfulness at heart:
- Meditation. I try to squeeze in at least 10 minuets at the start of everyday as well as some more whenever I find myself ina quite space, even if its while walking on a nature trail with Leela. Makeing the most of every chance to clear my mind and focus on just one sence.
- Yoga. At my healthiest I have done yoga at least once a day. My body needs it so badly, to feel confident and in control. Ive always felt I didnt have control over my body because of growing up with auto immune disese. Yoga helps me bring that control back, it makes me less clumbsy, stronger and all around more aware of what my body is doing.
- Drinking water and eating wholefoods. Again with the yoga this makes me feel more confident and in contole of my body. Eating and drinking well cuts my seizures in half, eliminates stomach issuses including bloating that stips me of confidence and the want to be active, and it gives me a calmer clearer mind.
- I play games with my daughters. When I am living more mindfully I also make the time to allow my realtionships to be more mindfull, playing and comunicating with my daughters 1 on 1, with out trying to squeeze in chores while she is distracted, having date nights with my boyfriend, meeting up for coffee with friends without my daughter there. And most importantly engageing in all these relationships with out having my phone in my hand; making sure they have my 100% undivided attention.
I hope you enjoyed this little insight into how mindfulness and meditation intertwine in my life, please leve a comment telling me what you thought and how you work mindfullness and meditation into your life, the benefits it has brought you, or any stuggles you find with them.