Let me start my first Wellness Wednesday of 2016 with a little bit of facetiousness. I GAINED a lot in 2015, including a lovely 50 lbs and 30 inches. Boo. But I’m tired of focusing on negative gains, and I’m tired of whining about how awful 2015 was. Let it go, let it go. *cue Elsa*
It’s time to acknowledge the positive gains, and let those bring me into a good foundation for 2016. Those would be:
- a mental health diagnosis that put 25 years of illness and struggle into perspective, and started me on a path toward healing
- an understanding and appreciation for particular psychological and psycho-social needs, such as attachment theory, touch therapy, roots of addiction, and the affects of breath and meditation on the body and anxiety issues
- the ability to draw my friends in close without putting up self-protective barriers
- an amazing social support network that literally saved my life
- a promise and commitment previously withheld and denied and broken
- a lovely new home in the heart of where I belong
- an inkling of where I want to move my future career path
- an emerging and evolving ability to love my body regardless of weight and size
Lastly, I made the great discovery of yoga this past year, and it’s on this discovery, this gain, that I’m beginning the new year.
I didn’t hate Eat Pray Love the way so many others did. I didn’t love it to pieces, but I enjoyed the book, and the section that takes place in India has particularly stuck with me. I don’t have any particular faith or religion, nor am I an atheist. I could best be described as an agnostic human secularist. However, I am very interested in the foundations of various religions, particularly those outside my upbringing (ie NOT christian). I grew up without any exposure to yoga, especially as a religious practice. Let me state for the record that I still know very little about it in this context, and don’t believe Eat Pray Love taught me anything about it. What it did do was pique my interest in using yoga as a way to connect with my body and internal emotional state. Bessel van der Kolk increased that interest in an article about yoga and PTSD, prompting me to read The Body Keeps the Score last year.
My approach to yoga in 2015 was cautious, hesitant, and unsure. I was afraid to take a class because I knew nothing about the practice, and so I ordered videos from the library and tried them out. I asked for suggestions from friends, and checked out online video-classes. Some were awful, some were wonderful, and some were obviously not for me. In using the wonderful ones, I discovered just how much yoga helped me physically, mentally, and emotionally. It became especially important to me as a grounding exercise for when my anxiety and PTSD symptoms grew so bad that I began dissociating (ie being suddenly unable to feel random body parts, or feeling like I was separate from my body altogether).
I had to give up yoga this past August when I sprained my ankle. It’s been more than four months now, and while my foot is nowhere near fully healed – it was a full foot-sprain, I’ve since been told, and will take a year to heal, sigh – I can finally do things like sit cross-legged and stand on the foot if I hold onto a wall for balance. So I have to modify my yoga, and skip anything that involves moving my foot into particular positions, but that’s okay. I’m okay. There’s been a hole ripped into me for much of the last few years, and I’m learning to fill it up with something other than food, alcohol, and tears. Learning to breath, to balance, to center myself, to meditate. To heal from the inside out.
I love the idea of yoga for meditative purposes. I’ve tried a few times to do this, but I always find my mind races constantly throughout (as it normally does) and I can’t turn it off, or even lower the volume enough, to let the yoga/meditation do what it’s supposed to do.
Also, most of my experiences with yoga have been for fitness purposes, and I can say unequivocally that I hate exercise yoga! I like to exercise, but the yoga stuff is insane, my body doesn’t like it and I feel stupid doing it.
I would like to try again with the “spiritual” (self-aware, meditative, what have you) yoga, though. I do this sometimes by sitting in a dark room by myself, listening to music. But even then, I get restless pretty quickly.
The lady I follow for yoga is named Adriene and she has a good website and youtube channel. She does yoga for wellbeing, and tells you how to adapt for your body and flexibility level. She’s not interested in making sure all the poses are done perfectly – in fact, her motto is “find what feels good” and she gets a little silly with having people make the yoga poses their own. It’s a good in-between for me – not super strict on the yoga in a way to intimidate me, but not hokey spiritual either. I highly recommend her – you can search Yoga With Adriene. 🙂
From what I understand, though, meditation is SUPPOSED to be difficult at first, turning off our minds. I’m still fairly bad at it, but I’m getting better. Sometimes I can only get in a minute before my mind wanders, and that’s an improvement! Every time I wander, though, I try to bring my focus back to my breath, and it’s getting a little easier. There’s one website, a tumblr gif, that helped me in the beginning. My focus was on the picture, so it quieted my mind. It’s not QUITE meditative, but it helped to show me the reduction in anxiety if I followed the breathing pattern for a few minutes. It’s here: https://31.media.tumblr.com/b1406ea40336dc68e5404b380c391d96/tumblr_nsj9tcMOgY1qkv5xlo1_500.gif
Interesting. Eat, Pray, Love is what drew me to the idea of meditation. I had done yoga on and off but never really got into it. I enjoyed it, but always struggled with the mental portion of it. I never did attend a class though, so I am guessing it is my issue.
I did, however, get into meditation, and that has been a life-changer. I realized when I was doing my self-reflection and deciding upon my word that one of the reasons I felt so scattered and harried was that I had given up my meditation practice. After one week of getting back into it, I find I feel much more centered, more balanced, and definitely more capable of dealing with everything life has to throw at me. It is proof that a healthy mind is absolutely necessary before you can start the healing process on everything else.
I seem to be the opposite – I have a hard time meditating by itself, but when doing yoga, it’s much easier for me. I have a hard time turning off my brain unless my body has something to fix on, maybe? I’d like to be able to do more of it. I’d like to take a yoga class at some point, too, but I’m still too self-conscious for it!