Archives for posts with tag: mindfulness is a powerful Rx

It’s true. This morning I woke well ahead of the alarm clock, but late enough that I initially figured I’d just go ahead and get up…I woke anxious. No obvious cause for the anxiety, at least in that waking moment that it was the thing owning my awareness. As I allowed myself to become conscious other things shifted into my awareness: my head was stuffy, and I had to pee. I got up to deal with those very practical matters, and as I did so I wondered if the source of my ‘anxiety’ was simply these biological experiences of being human – could I take a chance on returning to sleep? I might not sleep… I might sleep and wake up groggy… I could just cuddle up in the warm blankets awhile longer without worrying about sleep one way or the other – I felt ‘rested’, although I wasn’t convinced I wanted to be awake.

I pulled the covers around me, compromising on the sleep/no sleep dilemma by choosing meditation – in corpse pose, wrapped in blankets. lol I woke when the alarm went off, without any anxiety, and smiling. I noticed when I woke that the headache I had the night before was gone – suggesting perhaps it was not gone when I had awakened earlier. This would not be the first time I have beaten back anxiety by taking care of this fragile vessel in practical ways, and refraining from investing additional attention in the anxiety itself. I’m not sure it counts as a ‘practice’ and it’s not one of those ‘100% effective!’ things – there are definitely verbs involved, and a certain genial tolerance that it won’t always be so simple is definitely required.

How much of my anxiety used to be caused simply by treating myself poorly day-to-day, largely unaware of it, generally not paying any attention to my own needs until forced to by some emotional storm, or physical failure? How much anxiety was caused by simply not hearing myself, not giving myself the consideration and respect that I continued to seek in the world, and all the resentment that went along with not finding it anywhere?  I’m glad that things as simple (although not effortless) as meditation, good self-care, being considerate of my own needs and boundaries, and treating myself as well as I would ask others to treat me (and then some!) have so much power to reduce [my] anxiety. [Your results may vary.]

In spite of the headache and a trying day yesterday, I enjoyed hanging out with my traveling partner in the evening after work. It wasn’t a dinner date – we just hung out. It wasn’t a booty call. Seriously – we just hung out. We talked intimately, warmly, connecting on that heart & soul level so common to dear longtime friends – and often so rare in long-term romantic relationships of many years. We are not together ‘out of habit’, or ritual, or despair, or… He and I are together by choice. We enjoy each other greatly. We choose each other again and again. Literally ‘in sickness and in health’ – I am fortunate that my traveling partner on life’s journey is far more than a romantic partner – he’s a best friend, a partner in work and play, a cook in a shared kitchen, an adventurer with whom I can adventure, an adviser, a coach, a buddy, a wingman – and my dear love. I’m doubly fortunate that we are intellectual equals, have shared interests, and are similarly competent in very different areas of life – a hell of a partnership, honestly. 😀



This morning isn’t fancy or exciting, or extraordinary in any way. The anxiety is gone – no idea why it was there, or why it isn’t there now. Doesn’t matter, and I don’t plan to dig into it. It’s enough that the anxiety is gone, and a new day begins. I am sipping my coffee contentedly, listening to music. I’ll get some housework done before work, and when I get home I’ll have a quiet evening ahead of me – maybe a movie tonight? I lose interest almost immediately; I’m reading a book that really has my attention, and I’ll probably come home, make a cup of tea, put my feet up and read until evening fades to night.

When I was a kid still living at home, reading was my escape and my refuge from the drama of family life. When I became an adult, I lost that somehow – couldn’t read without some quiet, some stillness, fewer interruptions. Rather than find the quiet I needed, for many years I had mostly given up reading in favor of the condensed concentrated entertainment products available for video consumption. Easier. (Also a sharable experience – how many families endure their challenges by painting over them with a bland wash of media entertainment, rather than facing them and resolving them, talking together, using the verbs?) I began picking up books again at about the same time I begin writing this blog – the Reading List developed quickly as I gobbled up relevant books desperate to find my way out of The Nightmare City in which I seemed to be so trapped. I still read now, finding it intellectually nourishing, and a convenient way to continue to build on my understanding of life and the world, to keep my mind young, and the results are hard to argue with – learning does so much to keep life engaging and interesting!

My traveling partner asked me about the book in conversation. His gentle awareness of my injury is there in the background; he has learned to help out in so many little ways with my recovery, generally. He asks me about the book knowing I have trouble articulating material I am reading – answering the questions, as difficult as it can feel for me, is a way of solidifying new knowledge, and figuring out where I am not actually comprehending new material fully, for further review. I will come back to the book tonight eager to revisit ideas I tried – and failed – to share. The deeper understanding matters to continued growth. He listens patiently, and doesn’t press when I stumble – he knows I will come back to it with a deeper more complete understanding, having heard questions about the material that will help me build that deeper understanding, myself. There is so much power in partnership. The reciprocity is critical; I return the favor, listening deeply when he talks about his experience, too, asking questions, listening to the answers, feeling feelings, honoring experience – ‘being there’.

Be love.

Be love.

Maybe that’s really what makes a good partnership – the ‘being there’ in the moment, fully engaged in the interaction with that other person, no other agenda, not ‘waiting to talk’, no rush, no pressure – just together in a shared moment?

Today is a good day to share an experience with someone. Today is a good day to listen with my whole self, and give my undivided attention to someone’s words. Today is a good day to be, and to ‘be there’. Today is a good day to change the way I interact with the world. 🙂

Yeah…this is not about ‘management’ as in ‘leadership’, and it’s not about improving one’s resume for a better paying job with keys to the executive washroom. Nope. It’s another sort of ‘executive’ ‘management’ altogether. The ‘executive functions‘ of the brain manage cognitive processes, such as (and likely not limited to) working memory, reasoning, task flexibility, problem solving, planning, impulse control, and in specific areas like the ‘orbitofrontal cortex’, things like evaluating subjective emotional experiences (and so much more). All very interesting, no doubt, but for me it’s a little more personal, and relevant…my TBI is a frontal lobe injury. The lingering impairments are mostly executive function sorts of things, and as with so many other people, and other TBIs, very interestingly individual – the brain is fancy, and the outcome of any given injury is equally individual. A whole new world of potential to heal and move on opened up when I started learning more about how these injuries work (don’t work?), and why, and how it changes my experience… and in so many moments, the experience of those who make their lives (or work) with me.

It is what it is, at least the piece where I look in the mirror every morning and I am… me. It’s not all bad. It’s better, actually, than it once was. I’ve learned a lot. I’ve grown. I’ve become more skillful at caring for this broken vessel, and at sorting out some of the chaos and damage that lingers.  It is, sometimes, a shit experience and I struggle. Very human.

How about this one for a great practical joke on one human primate by the universe… one of my ‘favorites’… my PTSD causes serious sleep disturbances, nightmares, sometimes insomnia, and diminishes the hours of restful deep sleep I can get; I’m easily awakened by the littlest noises, or novelty, in my nighttime surroundings… (waaaait for it…) and my executive function impairments are much more pronounced – to the point of being quite obvious – if I don’t get good rest, reliably, pretty nearly every night. So… yeah. A night or two of poor sleep, for whatever reason, and I start… declining. My temper is often the first obvious sign that ‘things are not right’ – I become irritable, and easily angered, and feel less positive, generally, when my sleep is of poor quality. Next up, I start struggling with emotional balance, and lose ’emotional regulation’ characteristics in my day-to-day experience most adults don’t even realize they have going on in the background; I feel them most particularly when they slip away unexpectedly.  The more tired I become, the more fatigued over time, the more prone to real tantrums, crying jags, and irrational mood swings I become – and (waaaait for it…) less able to sleep; my brain won’t shut down. When I do find sleep, I sometimes dream that I’m awake in such detail I wake exhausted to the point of tears. Yep. Pretty god damned funny. (Not)

Most of the time, these days, I still manage decently well overall…enough to pass as a grown up most of the time. There’s no real way to share what the subjective experience is like (you sort of have to be there). Every one of the many calming practices I’ve learned matters a great deal. Every choice counts. Every effort is meaningful. Every success – however fleeting, however limited the benefit, however difficult it is to recognize in the moment – every success builds the foundation for successes to come. My hope is that over time, that foundation grows substantial enough to bear the burden of the entirety of the chaos and damage…strong enough to hoist me above the pain, long enough to really see the view from a radically different perspective somehow ‘above it’… I would very much like to keep working at life and love to find that I have transcended what has hurt me most and become that woman – or more – that I might have been without the chaos and damage.

Please don’t tell me that’s wishful thinking. Tonight I couldn’t bear to lose the crutch of some shred of positivity to lean on. I’m tired. I know I am. My brain is buzzing like it’s noon on a sunny summer day; I’m not sleepy…but if I can practice good practices (meditation, and yoga are both very calming), and avoid becoming negative, or caught up in some random moment of weirdness, or a sneak attack by my own brain, I might sleep – or at least rest. Rest is okay. Rest is enough.

Enough is okay with me. Hell, I’m not even having to ‘do it alone’, really; my traveling partner checks in now and again. I welcome the closeness, the touches, the tenderness. The reassurance that love is, helps me find my way in the darkest darkness.

Wrapping this one up on a positive note; perspective matters, too.

Wrapping this one up on a positive note; perspective matters, too.