Archives for posts with tag: meditation is a powerful Rx

I woke very early. I did the usual: took my medication, opened up the apartment to morning breezes. I returned to bed, but not to sleep. It was clear in only minutes that sleep would not return, because anxiety showed up. Feeling disinclined to dicker with her, I got up.

"Anxiety"  10" x 14" - and she feels much bigger than that, generally.

“Anxiety” 10″ x 14″ – and she feels much bigger than that, generally.

Day three in pain, mostly managed. It’s not that I was entirely pain-free four days ago, only that it worsened, and has remained so. As it is for many people, pain is part of my experience. By the time I finish my morning coffee, I hope to have worked out today’s strategy for dealing with it. No, I don’t have a perfect unchanging routine for managing pain; I’m not a freight train, and life is not on rails… also pain from headaches differs from arthritis differs from muscle spasms differs from neuropathic pain differs from athletic soreness. Even pain is not ‘one size fits all’, in experience or treatment.

A new day like an anticipated gift; I may know it's coming, but I don't know what's in it until it arrives.

A new day is like an anticipated gift; I may know it’s coming, but I don’t know what’s in it until it arrives.

It is still so early that there is no hint of day break in the sky. I hurt enough this morning that it even distracts me from the anxiety that I woke with, although perhaps they are not unrelated. I don’t feel like writing, though… I think I’ll head for my meditation cushion, instead, and meditate until the sun rises. Taking care of the woman in the mirror and this fragile vessel will be enough, today. 🙂

I woke up in pain this morning, more pain than most mornings, and particularly more so than recent mornings.  A morning with an unusual amount of pain kicks over some self-care dominoes pretty quickly, and I found myself clumsy, slow, and emotional before I’d even finished my first coffee.

Clumsy with pain, and not my best cup of coffee. One morning, one moment, of many.

Clumsy with pain, and not my best cup of coffee. One morning, one moment, of many.

I’m okay, really. At this point, I am struggling more with the un-eased stiffness of my arthritic spine than with the pain itself. Coffee #2 is quite excellent, and I’m finding a bit of yogurt with some oats and dried fruit mixed in quite satisfying for a late bite of breakfast. The morning is a good one, pleasantly relaxed and without stress…aside from the pain, the stiffness, and the coming and going of emotions associated with those experiences. I am in enough pain to evoke tears, each time the pain resurfaces. The stiffness of my joints makes me ‘feel old’ more than the pain itself does, but the pain is what moves me to tears. Now and then I contemplate just going back to bed, although it was likely some characteristic of how I was sleeping that finds me here this morning. I feel frustrated and annoyed.

I checked in with my traveling partner online between coffees. I miss him greatly, and we had discussed hanging out today. I am a lot less fun when I hurt this much. I feel the frustration in the background, and a yearning to ‘force myself’ through ‘whatever it takes’ to ease my pain – not because I hurt, but because I want so much to hang out with my traveling partner and enjoy that time together wholly undistracted by pain. Punishing myself because I am trapped in this fragile vessel, limited by mortal limitations, isn’t really a good way to treat myself – or to get the results I’d like, either, and tends to put me in a bad mood over time. I stop myself long enough to recognize that I am doing my best, and remind myself that it is enough.

I put myself on pause to meditate. I take time to do some yoga. Both these things offer some measure of relief of both the pain, and the emotionality. I sit quietly, and enjoy my coffee while watching the rain fall just beyond the patio door. I’m okay right now. Pain is what it is, and I am dealing with that today, but what I’m not having to deal with is treating myself poorly for a condition in life that is not worthy of blame, or punishment. I’ll enjoy the day, in spite of the pain I am in – because it isn’t the pain that determines the quality of my experience, it’s just something I have to deal with.

I take some good deep breaths, sip my coffee, and pay attention to my posture as I write; it is an easy enough bit of mindfulness to bring to my experience and relieves considerable discomfort. I lose sight of it repeatedly and, as with any bit of mindfulness, that’s to be expected. I begin again. And yet again. I keep practicing. Over time, I relax more comfortably with better posture, slowly encouraging muscles that may not have been doing their part to become stronger and more involved. Incremental change over time is a powerful thing. With the yoga too, postures that were too difficult upon waking are now within reach, and later today I will achieve others that offer still more relief. The toughest of the practices on a morning like this one is simply being patient with myself, and giving myself the time and consideration to get results more slowly than I might on another day.

I smile thinking of my traveling partner, and hope that his morning is going well, and that his coffee is excellent, also. Today is a good day to smile, and enjoy what each moment offers; the moments themselves are so few in a mortal lifetime. Today is a good day to appreciate what is working out well, and any improvements that develop over time. Today is a good day to appreciate the woman in the mirror and to treat myself well, rather than criticizing my best efforts on a difficult day. Today is a good day to enjoy my coffee and listen to the rain fall. It’s enough.

 

I am content. Today has been peculiarly productive with all manner of adulthood-related commitments and tasks. In spite of pain I’ve managed it all quite efficiently and will reasonable skill. I am seriously hurting today. The weather is quite wintry, and I spent an amount of it outdoors. The cold seeped into my arthritic bones, and I am stiff almost to rigidity from my waist to my shoulders – and I hurt. Still…I am mostly fairly merry, and lack any shred of irritability or ire today. I have taken care of me in so many ways today, big and small. It’s definitely a bit beyond ‘enough’.

When conditions are right, growth.

When conditions are right, growth.

I have an opportunity to move into a somewhat larger apartment in the community, one that is directly adjacent to the park, and has all the nice features of this unit. That’s exciting for a number of reasons. It is an unexpected and delightful recent development; the associated practices will be mostly to do with feeling the excitement and anticipation of a move I want to make, without becoming invested in the outcome before the lease is signed. I’ll make the observation that life tends to be much easier, and less about drama, having turned my attention toward cultivating an experience of sustainable contentment, rather than chronically chasing happiness and feeling mired in sorrow. Not only has life tended to be ‘easier’ – I’m also actually happy more often. (Your results may vary.) (Oh – and there are verbs involved.) (Ooh – Dude – don’t forget about the choices! You have choices.)

It’s a time of year I spend a lot of leisure time reflecting on what has been working, what hasn’t worked out so well, what I am yearning for and not finding, what I may be stuck chasing that I don’t even want, where I am headed – every journey begins somewhere, so I am also reflecting on where I am right now. My traveling partner was so right; he observed years ago, when we were first becoming friends, that I would benefit greatly from living alone awhile – his thinking was based on my fairly chronic complaint that I did not ‘feel heard’. He suggested, and he wasn’t the last to do so, that the person not listening just might be me. I dismissed that notion out of hand, and went on to fill out the narrative with some understandable, more or less, feminist grievances that seemed to hold up to scrutiny. They may or may not have real substance. He was correct, though; I wasn’t listening. Whether anyone else was is almost irrelevant where I stand in life now. I am hearing me, and it was my own attention I needed most – or at least first. It has been an important experience living alone. I discovered something quite nice; I like living alone. It works for me.

I also discovered some things that are less comfortable. Feeling lonely sucks. Coming home to a cold darkened apartment feels empty. Those are uncomfortable. I greatly miss living with my traveling partner… generally. That’s not uncomfortable. It’s not even uncomfortable that sometimes I don’t miss living with him. Nope. What’s uncomfortable is how incredibly unskilled I am at simply having the experience of feeling the feelings. It takes practice to allow myself some compassion for complex or intense emotions, and to treat myself kindly; I keep practicing. What is uncomfortable is the sensation of missing him alongside the awareness that I also very much enjoy living alone. What’s uncomfortable is that these things really do co-exist – and as it turns out, I have no reason at all to consider the experience one that comes with a comfort guarantee. There is likely to be more to be learned from my discomfort than from my joy. Life’s curriculum being delivered right on time.

Today is a good day for reflection, for choices, and for contentment. Enough really is enough – that’s why it gets called that. 🙂

My holiday week continues. Yesterday didn’t have much of a vacation feel to it, and having spent it caring for a distressed loved one I found myself wrung out with fatigue quite early. I’ve been sleeping quite well, lately, and didn’t think twice about crashing out a couple of hours early; no alarm to be set, I could even sleep in (again) if I like.

At the end of a stormy day, feeling a bit flooded.

At the end of a stormy day, feeling a bit flooded can be expected.

It was no real surprise to wake around 2 am, my troubled dreams did not linger in my consciousness and I easily returned to sleep. I woke again shortly after 4:00 am, and got up long enough to take my morning meds (a bit early, but acceptably so), and again return to sleep…only… I didn’t fall asleep again. My brain decided my mind had become a playground for worrisome demons, driven by background stress lingering from the day before. No real surprise there, under the circumstances. I reorganize myself into a position suitable for meditation, and teach my errant consciousness a thing or two about self-discipline – or I try. We play a cat-n-mouse game of meditation versus imagination for a while; when I found my mind wandering, I bring it back to my breath, and again and again, and yet again. Some time later my mind yielded to my determination, and unmeasured time passed in calm internal stillness. Around 7, or a bit after, I roused myself naturally with a deep sign of contentment and a feeling of ‘being complete’ – the only thing missing at that point was a good cup of coffee.

The warmth of the mug in my hand is a pleasant contrast with the chill in the room, and I remind myself to adjust the thermostat controls for ‘home for the holidays’ so that I’m not chilly for the sake of economy at a time of day when I’m not usually home, but am most definitely both home, and sitting around in my jammies the week before Giftmas. Taking care of me has some very practical small details to it, and learning to manage them all well and skillfully is an ongoing learning process.

I see a sliver of ‘lighter than darkness’ peeking through the small gap under the vertical blinds on the patio door, and open the blinds enough to provide a view of the changing light of day. Regardless of the weather, I like the wee bit of not-much-of-a-view and seeing the day progress, and small wild creatures at play just beyond my patio. The view is most appealing because the vantage point from my desk or wee love seat is such that it doesn’t look to anyone else’s windows, which matters to me although I would not easily be able to explain quite why.

After the storms, growth.

After the storms, growth.

In general, the day is off to a good start and this ‘now’ right here is calm, and pleasant, and I feel content and at ease. I don’t know where the day will take me, or what the experience will be like – will it be rich with warmth and love? Will I laugh a lot? Will I smile most of the day, or will challenges chase me? Will love win? Will I look back on the day pleased by the outcome of carefully made choices? Will I remember to take care of me? Will I treat others as well as I would like to be treated, myself? So many choices, options, and opportunities!

Today is a good day to keep the bar set comfortably at ‘enough’ and enjoy whatever the day may offer. 🙂

Sometimes the simplest practice is enough. Sometimes the simplest practice isn’t just ‘enough’ – it’s quite seriously the right and proper choice and only likely practice to really ease my anxiety, or stress, or fear, or anger, or sadness… Meditation continues to be the most powerful Rx available [for me] to ease symptoms of most challenges associated with emotional volatility, or loss of resilience.

I  mention it on a Monday almost after-the-fact; I woke feeling fine, after a pretty exceptionally relaxing and delightful weekend. An hour later my anxiety was through the roof; it is Monday, and I am frustrated and discontent with work. Frustration being my kryptonite, this is a magical cocktail for a shitty day if I choose to struggle with the feeling, feed into it, deepen it or invest in it by picking at it like a sore until it fills my emotional and cognitive space completely. I can choose differently, and today I do; I put things aside and meditate for a while.

Still an excellent place to begin.

Still an excellent place to begin.

I keep my meditation practice simple, and rarely use guided meditations to address stress, chaos, or anxiety; the heavy lifting is done [in my own practice] by simple breath meditation, awareness, stillness – sitting quietly, breathing, and letting everything fall away that isn’t right here, right now. Right now I’m generally okay. Giving myself a few moments quietly, just for me, without rumination or spiraling loops of negative thoughts, is often enough to put anxiety to rest. It does take practice. Work being what it is, I may need to take a few minutes for me once or twice during the work day, too. I’m so worth that. In meditation, I also take a few minutes mindfully aware of myself, how I feel, how my body feels, how my heart feels, and stop avoiding how little enthusiasm I have for work right now – the time taken to give myself a break, stop gritting my teeth dodging that lack of enthusiasm, and accept ‘where I’m at’ with real compassion and understanding is helpful. I take time to boost my pain medication; it is a very cold morning, below freezing, and my back is feeling it.

Beginning again. I am a student.

Beginning again. I am a student.

It is a simple morning, worthy of good self-care, and simple practices are enough. There are verbs involved, and  your results may vary. 🙂