“365 Days of Mindfulness” [Day 11] Mindfulness During The Hard Times…

I believe in mindfulness at all times for just about everything but for me mindfulness is a lifesaving self care practice, and it’s a good one for everyone to have in their toolbasket for hard times.

As I have written often on this blog and I’m sure you all know it by now I am bi polar. I am Bi Polar Type II which is the depressive side of things, and I have a severe anxiety disorder. I am also agoraphobic and have had a dickens of a time with that for the last several months. Most days my medication handles everything but the agoraphobia pretty well but I can get swept up at a moment’s notice by a funnel cloud of depression or wake up so afraid and anxious I can barely get out of bed. The pugs are my saving grace. They help me sleep and they give me a reason to get up. But there are days that I am nearly paralyzed and save taking care of the animals I can barely do anything at all. But then…

I make myself pull self care practices out of my basket which is always at hand. Gardening is one, walking outside with the dogs helps, but my mindfulness practice helps most of all.

The thing for people who suffer from mental health challenges is that staying in the present moment is just about the last place we end up without conscious effort. Getting lost in the past and dwelling on it, or worrying about the future which can feel so overwhelming that a litany of all of the terrible things that might go wrong or are “probably going to happen” screams in our heads like operatic arias loud enough to fill a stadium never mind a concert hall.

But it’s not just us. I used to think it was. When you are always struggling in deep dark places you imagine that everyone else is doing well while you are just always circling the drain about to go down. The day I realized that this simply wasn’t the case I was kind of shocked, and in awe. Do you mean other people get scared, and feel anxious, and helpless, and hopeless, and…

Well of course, everyone does, at least sometimes. For whatever reason, in whatever way, no matter how it manifests at whatever time of life, of the day, in whatever season, everyone is going to have hard times, and some days are going to just be humdingers when it seems that survival isn’t a possibility. I’m not talking about being suicidal, I’m talking about whatever we might be going through at the moment has only one possible outcome and it isn’t good. That’s what our busy brain is telling us at it sweeps us along as if we were whitewater rafting without the raft and headed to the most dangerous place in the river.

This is where mindfulness comes in. One of the most helpful things a psychiatrist ever told me was that I had “Anticipatory Anxiety.”  I had never heard of that but when she explained it it was kind of a knockout moment. I never understood it in this way. A.A. is when you become extremely anxious to the point of being paralyzed, maybe having panic attacks, or generally wanting to hide under the covers and never come out before an upcoming event. I am feeling that way about a dental appointment tomorrow. Now I have never minded the dentist at all, and I am just going for a teeth cleaning, and I really like to get my teeth cleaned, it is just the business of getting from here to there. I often cancel a number of appointments before I ever actually make it to one, calling and making excuses, sometimes outright lying or making things up, preferably after hours when I can leave a message on the machine, to get out of going. I nearly fall back on the couch with relief after making the call and feel as though I have just escaped with my life. I hope I don’t do that tonight but I think I might feel a flu coming on. My ears feel funny. I think. And my throat might almost maybe just be a tad scratchy. And it’s raining. And it might be raining tomorrow. Oh Lord. I hope I don’t call. I might call. I’ll let you know tomorrow if I went. The thing is if you can just make yourself do the dreaded thing you usually feel just fine. It’s the anticipation of it that nearly does you in.

So, mindfulness. I am sitting here working very hard to pull myself back into this. moment. right. now.

Deep breath.

Breathing in and out.

Relaxing my body.

Ah. Okay. I am here, right now, in this chair, with a tiny girl pug in my lap, and 3 boys pugs in beds around me and they are snoring. I love the snoring. See! There. I smiled. I am relaxing. I am here, right now, in this moment. And in the next moment I will just be there then. And I will keep on. I bet I DO go to the dentist tomorrow. Yes, I can almost possibly say with a fair degree of certainty that I just might.

It helps me a lot to have prayer beads next to the bed. I think there is a reason that prayer beads whether rosaries, or malas, or the like have been around so long. You can certainly pray, or meditate, without them, but the soothing feeling of holding the beads in your hands, fingering one particular bead, rubbing it between your fingers while you pray or recite a mantra, is very soothing. I will have my mala next to the bed tonight. If I wake up I will just pick it up and let my fingers follow those beads around, moment by moment.

Deep breath. I’m okay. Right now, in this very moment I am okay.

Try this. Remember this. When you become afraid, anxious, whatever emotion is sweeping over you, make yourself consciously stop and check in where you are. Right now. In this moment. Not tomorrow, or ten minutes from now. And don’t dwell on what happened yesterday, or an hour ago. It’s gone.

We are here, together, in this moment. I am here when I am writing it. You are here when you are reading this. Right. Now. You. Are. Reading. This. Word. You. Are. Right. Here. And. You. Are. Okay. It works, see?

So, I’m okay, and you’re okay. And… I’m going to the dentist.

Stay in the moment. It’s a good place to be.

 

If you enjoy this blog a donation would be deeply appreciated to help me continue to bring “Maitri’s Heart” to you. Thank you, and many deep blessings to one and all…

Comments

  1. Susan Hasse says:

    Thanks Maitri! I needed this today. I walked away from a minimum wage job today and am back in panic mode about money. But right now at 11 p.m. I’m done for the day. The job is gone. (It wasn’t one that would work for me anyway, at this point in my life.) And right now I’m just saying thank you. Thank. You. I’m done for the day. Will go relax and read and go to sleep. Tomorrow I’ll work on applying for other jobs.

    • Oh Dear Susan, I am truly sorry about the loss of your job, and I can’t believe that in writing this to you I am responding again to someone who wrote in after the third different post, that the Universe wants to right itself and so do we. In walking away from a job that you knew wasn’t right for you and having the knowing inside that you need to do something different and having the courage to do something about it you are righting your soul and there will be a very good outcome for you, I just know it.

      Do take time to relax and read and sleep, these are all rejuvenative things and will help you find your way to what you really need. I will hold you close in my thoughts and heart and prayers to find the thing that you really need to do for you. And I know you will find it, and I hope you come back and share your good news about that as you find your way into this beautiful space.

      Blessings and love to you dearheart,

      Maitri

  2. So it turns out I have a dental appointment tomorrow too. The dentist isn’t my favorite doctor in the world, and it feels like I pay through the nose every time I go, but I’m going tomorrow. If I really get anxious I’ll take my white onyx heart with me and hold onto it during the really fun bits, and remember to breathe deeply and RELAX when I feel myself stiff as a 2×4 lying in the dental chair. (I’ve done that too.)
    You will go and I will go and we can compare notes tomorrow evening. Sound like a plan? 😉

    Blessed Be,
    Victoria

    • Sweet Victoria, I will hold you very close in my heart as you go through your dental visit I’m glad you have the onyx to hold onto, and yes I am going to the dentist today. I get my teeth cleaned regularly and I always feel so much better afterwards.

      So yes onward and upward each of us and yes it would be fun to come back and share. Interestingly there have been more than one other comment about people having dental appointments today and I had to laugh at that. There IS strength in numbers! We shall all have to send one another good energy from our dental chairs!

      Onwards and upwards dear one!

      Love,

      Maitri

  3. Joanne Ingrassia says:

    how your words helped me so, Maitri! I have been feeling quite well with new self-care in my life, supported by SARK and the people I felt connecting, and feeling so free and happy. Enough to allow someone new into my life. But then, just lately, niggling around the edges, insecurity and suspicion and scared-edness raised up, and I didn’t want that in my life. So I tried to write it out. Lissa, my beautiful cat, is on my lap as I write to you, after reading your words in the wee hours of this morning… i, too, have felt quite paralyzed at times, and feared i was going to go there, slip back there, and knowing it isn’t my best choice, certainly not my only choice. so your words, your sharing, have helped a lot. i wanted you to know that, and to thank you. it isn’t easy being open and vulnerable, but it is a gift. thank you for sharing yours. ironically, or not so much, i, too, have a dental cleaning appt coming up in days, and will now think of you, too, as i go t an appt I have put off for months… because that is self-care, too. hugs. joanne

    • Joanne, I am so happy that you are finding inroads to self care and SARK is just so wonderful at teaching, promoting and sharing just these things through her work. We must just keep working at it and there is no perfect way and we slipside in one direction or another but as long as we keep finding our way back that is the important thing.

      And I just have to laugh because there are now 2 other people besides me heading to the dentist today. We will have to send each other good energy today and share this journey together from our respective dental chairs. Onward and upward!

      Love,

      Maitri

  4. Teresa Myszka says:

    Thank you Maitri for this post…it is most timely for me…I really needed to hear this.

    • Oh Teresa, I am so happy that this post helped you even in some small way. It has been my dearest hope that this might be so because I so want to help. I hope you find you way to an easier place. I am sending you love and a big warm hug…

      Maitri

  5. Thank you for these posts. I look forward to them each day.

    • Tracy, I am so happy that they are meaningful for you and I really thank you for sharing this journey with me. Bless you dearheart. Onwards and upwards and may we continue forth on this journey together helping each other on the journey. When people take time to comment they are really helping others more than they know. So thank you so much. I hope that you will continue to share the journey with me.

      Love,

      Maitri

  6. Victoria! I made it too! YAYYYYYY for both of us. I’m so glad you posted here because I meant to come back and do it but life is moving so fast right now trying to get so much done that I forgot. WE MADE IT! And I’ve got my next appt set up too, (I hope I don’t get a “sprained ankle” before that one!) 🙂

    High Five Sister!

    Maitri, with clean teeth!

  7. I absolutely hate anticipatory anxiety. I have had insomnia before where I couldn’t fall asleep until ridiculous hours (like 10 am) from dreading something that was coming up the next day. Thank goodness this doesn’t happen all the time because it is no fun at all!

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