An update on my Mindfulness journey this year

You may be wondering why have I not written for so long. Oops… Well I forgot to write my blog. Life got busy… since I last wrote I bought a house and yes I can confirm buying a house can be a stressful time but actually it really wasn’t as stressful as I thought it would be. I was suprised! But wait I thought could it be that I am becoming Mindful? Has all this Headspace meditation really been working it’s magic on my brain. I can only assume maybe- unless I had a CT scan I wouldn’t be able to see the neural connections improving in the area of my brain.

I have now completed quite a few hours of mindfulness practice. The year is ending and I’m feeling quite reflective in my mood today. I can say that Mindfulness has led me to become more aware of myself and others. It has given me breathing space for my mind to relax. It has encouraged me to be less of a doer and incorporate some well deserved me time. It has also given me focus to improve myself not just for me but the benefit of others too.

One thing it has not done and I don’t think will ever do is it has not cured me of my depression and anxiety or my chronic pain and I knew it would not. I seem to be becoming a master or an expert at living with chronic pain and depression. Yes I face the stigma and problems I and many others face as a disabled woman. But I refuse to allow myself to wallow in the self-pity pit because what good has self-pity ever achieved?

So this year I wanted to be happier and healthier…Am I happier? What is happiness? These questions are unique to us all. The simple answer is yes, even if the world may not see it I am happier and healthier each day I try to be.

March went quickly. How are you doing reader? So much to tell…

Hi and thank you for continuing to read my blog. I am sorry I didn’t write for the whole of March. So much has been happening and I will not bore you with a long essay of my crazy life.

To summarise here I have compiled a list to catch up with me:

  •  I have turned 35
  • My husband has started Cognitive Behaviour therapy and is doing well,
  • My mental wellbeing has stabilised   ( antidepressant medication for 4 months)
  • Work has been busy but good
  • We are in the process of buying our first house in Bristol.

Quite a lot going on really in the space of just over a month don’t you think?

My last post was somewhat in a different mind space all together and I am pleased to say this troubled time has now past. My husband is taking back control over his work issues and social anxieties are improving for him. My wellbeing is generally good. Life is great when you feel more able to cope with life’s daily stresses.

Mindfulness however I must admit now has taken a back burner in my priorities. I have got out of the good habit of taking 10 minutes a day. Buying a house is very much taking over at present. I’m not going to dwell on it though and hope to re begin practice resuming normal Headspace meditation sessions a few times a week. I have not forgot it all together however reader! Ruby Wax’s book has given me tips to incorporate it in daily tasks like eating, cooking and walking . This is definitely more practical than having to find a quiet 10 minutes when life is busy.

Examples of being mindful are noticing tastes and textures when chewing food, feeling cold or heat sensations when drinking, incorporating the senses like smell and touch when preparing and cooking food. How does the herbs smell, what does the pepper feel like and noticing the different variations of colour in food ingredients are all good examples of focusing the attention in the here and now. The alternative to cooking in a non mindful way is singing to a tune, trying to stir food, chop food wash and clean up all at the same time while thinking about the list of other chores you still have to do before bed. Yes admit it ….we’ve all done it!

I promise to write again soon (I hope not to leave more than 2 weeks). Have a good rest of the week and stay mindful!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How do you cope with mood swings, conflict and difficulties?

Today I had an emotional meltdown. I’ll try not to go into it too much. But how best could I have coped with the emotions? I felt I had been bottling up my true thoughts and feelings and instead of being open and honest with my husband about things I decided to sacrifice my own needs to put his first. My husband is like me someone who has some difficulties. Where as I have gone through this and thankfully am on the other side and moving towards a healthier mind. He is starting his journey. He is waiting on some CBT and in the meantime is struggling with managing his emotions. His memory and concentration is shockingly poor, he is a chronic insomniac and to top it off he is in a highly demanding job. So how do I keep being empathetic whilst not denying myself the need to share difficult feelings with him about how his behaviour is bringing me back down with him? This is the juncture we faced tonight. Coupled with some difficult days spent with family who are not always the best behaved around each other.

I was frazzled tonight, I was drained emotionally and at the end of my patience. But the air has now been cleared. Alright it was not the way I wanted us to communicate but how can we be perfect partners to each other when we are both battling the same infliction. I never knew he was like I was too a person who has a level of depression. He is coming to terms with this and is in the I can’t help myself and am too afraid to help myself space right now. I am frustrated as he is resisting advice and instead drinking alcohol, putting his family first and not taking his condition seriously enough. We are in a sense two coins of the same size and shape. How funny that we have found each other. Our similarities were there all along but I never knew how alike we really are until recently. We of course have our differences like he hates public speaking and I hate myself when were struggling. He drinks too much and pretends all is OK and gets angry. I instead collapse in a heap, hide and desperately try all avenues to avoid a great depression. Key of all I have major depressive episodes but he can function (to a degree).

Mindfulness I am sorry to say went out the window today 😦

I hope to be communicating better with him in the coming week and trying to tap back into empathy and yet set myself time away from him with friends to protect my own wellness. He in turn will have to find his own way out of the depression cloud.

I will be ploughing on with Mindfulness and hoping to lead as an example more in how it really can focus attention away from leading me down emotionally exhaustive paths.

I am near the end of the second foundation programme on the Headspace app. I am half way through Ruby’s book Mindfulness A Guide for the Frazzled.

Next week I hope to have a more upbeat blog reader! But to end it on a  quirky philosophical note- there’s nought stranger than folk!

 

 

 

 

 

My thoughts and reflections on Ruby Wax’s new book A Mindfulness Guide for The Frazzled.

Picture

 

I was reassured tonight by the insights of Ruby Wax speaking at The Octagon Theatre in Yeovil. She said that when she was heading for a crash/depression she would overcompensate to prove to everyone, and I’m guessing most of all herself that she was alright. She would attend every dinner party and event, often with some embarrassing consequences and thus feeding into her negative self talk.

I too have found that when I am heading for an emotional crash I am usually excessively busy either socially or at work or sometimes both. I become, as Ruby would say frazzled. I used to think that excessive workloads, conflicting relationships and a stressful time-pressured day was a big cause in the decline in my wellbeing. But could it be that I am (as a result of the horrid chemicals flooding my brain) behaving in a way that feeds into causing myself more stress? Do these nasty little chemicals influence me to work too hard aiming for perfection and flogging myself to keep up with an impossible pace. Influence me to pile on commitment after commitment without allowing myself time to relax. Unable  allow the housework or responsibilities to take a back burner, without chastising myself for not attaining to the expectations I set myself.

Do I always have these high expectations of myself? Well no not always. If I’m in a relaxed state I don’t prioritise the dust on the coffee table but in fact I choose to sit on the couch with said coffee table in front with a steaming cup of tea on top of the dust!

Ruby says that what she does now, is when she notices the critical noises in her head at becoming ever more violent and louder, she clears her diary. She effectively goes into action to spend time away from the commitments, noise and expectations and instead I suspect spends more time practicing mindfulness. She said she has found this useful and has cut down the amount of time her critical noises overtake things.

The lesson I have learnt from this is this- that instead of waiting for my wellness to hit critical juncture before I acknowledge that things aren’t all right in my mind, I need to learn to identify when things start to change and take action then.

With Mindfulness I hope to have a greater awareness of my inner thoughts and to learn to not always allow these negative feelings and thoughts to direct my life. Because as Ruby insightfully said tonight at her show-” you become what you pay attention to”.

To give an example- If you focus a lot of your free time and money on football related activity you might decide to become a football player. If you play football 3 times a week you might become semi-professional. If you play well for a small club and continue to hone your passion and skills you might become quite good. You may get snapped up by a big club and by this time pretty much a lot of people know you as a footballer. You too will be embedded in football culture and thus you have fulfilled your ambitions to become a football player.

My dream is more simplistic but at the same time complex because after all what is more complex that the human mind. To become mentally well and more mindful.

Have a good weekend all and if you are interested in Ruby Wax’s latest book check it out here: http://www.rubywax.net/frazzled.html RubyWax.net

 

 

 

 

 

 

Is my mind starting to become more Mindful?

Image result for mindfulness

This image sums up just how my mind is feeling so far the past few days. I am on day 13 of the mindfulness practice using Headspace and I can honestly say there is very little traffic going on! The inner critical voice too has taken a winter sun vacation (or wherever critical inner voices like to visit). Sitting down and practicing mindfulness is a lot easier when there’s less inner noise. My life outside my head is less stressful too at the moment. Could this could also be a factor in my peaceful mind?

If you’re a new person reading my blog you may be wondering what Mindfulness is. Well I’ve recently picked up Ruby Wax’s new book called “A Mindfulness guide for The Frazzled” . This is a very funny but informal book on the subject. From what I’ve picked up and what I already know I can summarise for you…

Mindfulness is being able to stand back and watch your thoughts without the usual commentary on them. So it’s just about noticing your thoughts and feelings. Rather than judging them. It’s not something we have naturally so we develop this skill through regular practice. Practicing mindfulness is a way of breaking out of autopilot mode or to quell rumination, to calm ourselves and become present in the moment. Being in the moment is about noticing what’s happening around you. Have you ever driven home and not remembered the journey? This was due to you not being in the moment but instead being on autopilot.

I’m a big fan of Ruby Wax. She has got a Masters Degree in Mindfulness- based  Cognitive Therapy.  I am going to see her in Yeovil on her latest book tour in a few weeks.  I will of course write about what I learn from this.

Hope you have a great week and if you are curious about Mindfulness you can sign up for free taster sessions on Headspace .

 

Mindfulness practice week 3: Just noticing thoughts and feelings.

Hi reader and thank you for checking out my blog on how I am improving my mental wellbeing using mindfulness practice. I recommend using an app called Headspace , it is a step by step audio and visual app that guides you from being a novice and progressing to whatever level you need or want to be. I have signed up for a year.

My progress so far? I am now at the end of Level 1 on session 10. I am finding myself more aware of my thoughts and feelings. I am in no way yet able to notice them without judgement or even be just a watcher of these inward weathers. But I think a key step is noticing these moods and thoughts.

This week I found myself feeling tears bubbling up at work when I realised I was someone who was in others eyes quite disabled physically and emotionally by my chronic myofascial pain. I have been struggling to get my very busy manager to put my occupational health needs in her forefront. I realised I would have to explain to her what I need and the reality of being a person with an invisible illness and ability to mask the pain I feel because reader if I always listened to my pain I would have no job, no hobbies, no socialising and feel even more miserable! It did work and she promised to make a referral to look at some more adjustments to my work space. I just hope she keeps her promise as she hasn’t in the past. But I need to give her the benefit of the doubt. I’m a patient and often forgiving soul I have realised!

By th way I feel I need to reassure readers not to pay too much attention to certain media attention grabbing headlines and remember these words- Accept the things I cannot change and change the things I cannot accept, and the wisdom to know the difference!

Well I hope to be into Level 2 in my mindfulness practice next week and will update you on how I am becoming more happier in 2017.

 

 

Well that was a fun week! How has your week been?

Hello again.. better late than never so they say. This week I have been very busy both at work and play! Have I had time to write this blog, yes in 15 minutes! But more importantly reader the subject of my writing! So did I do my 10 minutes of mindfulness on Headspace you ask? Yes and no. I have reached level 8. I attempted on Friday to do my 10 minutes of mindfulness whilst my husband and his sister were talking in the lounge. Probably not the best idea in the world but I thought I would be up for the challenge. Well after 5 minutes I gave up and decided I tried as well as I could but couldn’t drown out their voices (she is a lawyer and has a loud voice is my best excuse). This weekend I’ve been dashing around the South West and Wales. Bristol to Cardiff then down the M5 to a small village outside of Exeter called Stoke Cannon. Put me and my husband in a car long enough and the bickering commences. I married a granddad cautious driver and he married (in his eyes anyway but probably an exaggeration) a speed freak! Look I understand a town driver can be nervous on winding dark country lanes but literally at one point a bus coming towards us on a wide country lane with the white lines in the middle and he gasps and tells me to slow down. My response? You can literally get a BUS THROUGH THERE. You can insert a swear word or two really for the real version hehe. I guess I have a long way to go with this mindful business or is this behaviour still OK when you’re a master of your mind? Have a good week and I will write again with more next week. Adios!