Category Archives: Mindfulness

Taking Care of Myself

ID-10046699I’m feeling much more positive today!! Hooray!!

Since I posted on Saturday I have been meditating to ground myself. Only a few minutes every few hours. It’s worked so far!! I feel more at peace with myself, though am still working with a few things.

Eating

I’ve used food for comfort since I was a kid. A dip back into pretty bad depression over the last 6 months has led to an increase in my food antics and a fast 16 pound weight gain. My knees have definitely noticed! My BMI is nearly 39, which is not good.

I think I’m at my limit now, where I say “Right, that’s enough now. No more.” There is no more denying the effects of what I’ve been doing, and the fact that it’s making me feel worse, not better.

A cease in cooking for myself is one of the first signs for me that I’m depressed again. But there are easy meals I am sure I could manage:ID-10038600

Jacket potato & baked beans

Eggs & salad.

Even a salad sandwich and some soup.

I know I can do this. It’s just a case of re-programming my brain! Lol!

I don’t want to eat in secret, feeling so guilty and ashamed. I need to replace the buzz of shopping for binge food and guzzling it with something more loving and nurturing to myself.

Dreams

I need to remember my dreams are important, so use these as a replacement! If I want to draw, I will draw. If I want to sing, I will sing. If I want to write a silly story, I’ll write a silly story!! I will resist the urge to tell myself there is no point in doing any of this, and remind myself that theses things are important- they are part of BEING who I am. I believe that we are all expressions of God’s spirit- being who we truly are (from the highest perspective of unconditional love) is what we are here for!

I’d like to reconnect to the childlike joy I used to feel when drawing and making up little stories, and dancing and singing. Joy brings light to the world!

Slow, but healing.

It’s definitely a slow day today too. Slow thinking, slow walking.

A very interesting observation was made by the psychiatrist Dr Russell Razzaque, author of Breaking Down is Waking Up. He took up mindfulness meditation for his own personal development and whilst on a retreat noticed something curious. During mindfulness exercises the participants were aiming to slow their thinking and  their walking, to observe themselves. He connected this with what happens in depression- our thoughts and movements slow down. Could it be that our minds and bodies are actually healing us through depression? I definitely like to think so!!

So with that in mind, I will trust that I am on the right track, and to listen and act on my intuition, rather than dismissing it as airy fairy.

Related Posts

Depression and Grounding

Hypomania and Grounding

Body Image and Lena Dunham’s ‘Girls’.

A Little Bit on Eating Disorders

Bipolar Disorder: Body Image and Anxiety

Conversations With Myself: Exploring Low Mood

Forward-thinking Psychiatry

Free Meditations with the Chopra Centre’s 21-Day Meditation Challenge

It’s a little late in informing you, but the Chopra Centre are half way through their 21-Day Meditation Challenge with Oprah Winfrey. It’s not too late to join though as the majority of meditations are available for 10 days online. It’s really easy to sign up (it’s even easier if you’re on Facebook-one click only!!):

Sign-up for the Chopra Centre Meditation Challenge

The Meditation Challenge happens about 2-3 times a year and is a fantastic opportunity to access some great-quality meditations by health guru Dr. Deepak Chopra. This season the theme is creating perfect health- hey, we could all do with some of that!!

The meditations are completely free and are sent to you via email each day.

Meditation has many health benefits including lowering stress levels, boosting the immune system and lowering blood pressure. It is also practiced to reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety.

I’ve been doing the meditation challenge for about 5 seasons now and each time it helps to bring me greater inner peace and to connect to who I am and what I want out of life.

It’s a great time to start meditating!

Related Posts:

Benefits of Meditation & Free Meditations via The Chopra Centre

5 Benefits of a 10-Minute Meditation Practice.

What is Mindfulness and Mindfulness Meditation?

100 Benefits of Meditation- ineedmotivation.com.

Self-Forgiveness: A Work in Progress

ID-10036283Self-Judgement

This time last year I was despairing of ever being able to forgive myself for what I saw as a life tangled in a massive web of “mistakes”, “bad” decisions and “appalling” behaviour: all linked to Bipolar.

I felt trapped beneath a gigantic pile of rocks, each one representing some “awful” fault or personality deficit.

I was desperate to find forgivenesss for myself as well as some semblance of self-care and self-love.

I always thought that self-forgiveness would come in an instant- like lightening: an epiphany.

Now I realise it takes time and patience, as well as the consistent intention to heal, love and accept myself for who I am.

For the last 8 months I’ve been reflecting, meditating and journalling my way through my feelings and at last I am beginning to feel forgiveness for myself and such wonderful love.

Spiritual Development and Bringing in The Light.ID-10065098

Spiritual Development classes have been a life-saver. I’ve learnt that every single one of us is loved unconditionally by Spirit- and I have felt this love when “bringing in the light” during meditation.

This beautiful heart-warming feeling spreads through and around you. It is wonderfully healing.

You can feel this for yourself too:

– Just be still, breathe deeply. Feel your feet heavy on the ground.

– Feel your heart opening- like a beautiful pink rose bud coming into flower.

– Feel the divine, loving light building here. To me it feels unconditionally loving, warm and very safe.

– Allow the love and light to wash through your entire body, out into the space around you.

– Feel your feet on the floor again and the light spreading below them, into the ground.

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Performing this exercise everyday has worked wonders for me. It’s amazing what inner wisdom you can tap into through this exercise too. Once your heart is open, you can receive divinely guided ideas which just pop into your head out of nowhere- it may just feel like normal thoughts or imagination, but it usually has a warm, loving feeling about it, or generates excitement and inspiration. If you listen to the guidance and follow it through, magic and miracles can occur!

Reframing Beliefs

Reframing my beliefs about past events has also helped enormously.

I’ve realised that eruptions of Bipolar symptoms are usually Spirit trying to tell me that something needs to change in my life or that I’m not listening, being still and following my inner guidance. Emotions are one of the ways we receive divine guidance. We are not here to suffer in this world. Spirit wants us to be happy, joyous and full of love for life. This is our natural state of being- our birthright.

By using Bipolar symptoms as a guide we can honestly follow our true path in life, which is the path to joy, fulfilment and abundance.

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For example:

One of my most traumatic Bipolar experiences was a few years ago. Basically I lashed out at a stranger after they insulted me. She called the police.

I was in a state of shock for months afterwards. I found it practically impossible to forgive myself for. I was forever talking to myself as if I were absolute scum. I thought I deserved to suffer. I gave up on myself and I genuinely believe my soul was as far out of my body as it could get! It didn’t want to be here anymore.

But over the last 8 months I’ve begun to see this event as a pivotal turning point in my life. I realised I was becoming a person I did not like- or even recognise. I wasn’t ME- I wasn’t expressing and living as my true self.

 

9496tn1l70tebfUnderstanding

It is much easier to begin the process of self-forgiveness once you can understand why events like this happened.

I attracted people into my life who abused me- because I was abusing myself! I was subconsciously sending out the message “use and abuse me- I deserve it”!

My thoughts about myself are changing all the time. I still have negative thoughts about myself, but I think I’m quicker to notice and change them. The positive thoughts are becoming the majority!

It really does take conscious, consistent effort, but it is not difficult. Just start with the intention to forgive and love yourself.

Summary

In order to develop self-love and self-forgiveness, I would recommend the following:

– Spiritual/Personal Development classes. (You do not have to be religious for this, or even necessarily believe in God).

– Meditation- bringing in the Divine Light of unconditional love.

– Thought awareness. Consciously choosing loving, positive thoughts about yourself.

– Look closely at events you find difficult to forgive yourself for: what was the message behind the event? What have you learnt from it?

Kindness, kindness and more kindness towards yourself!

– Remember that YOU are your number one priority in life- nobody else!

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Bach Flower Remedies that may aid Self-Forgiveness

Pine: easing feelings of guilt. Helps to see and accept past mistakes and let them go.

Willow: easing resentments. Helps to deliberately focus on the positive rather than the negative.

Chestnut Bud: helps to learn from past mistakes.

Rock Water: help to release unrealistically high expectations of self. Helps to find joy and inner peace.

Related Posts: You Are Amazing!; Self-Forgiveness; A Little More Self-Forgiveness; Bach Flower Remedies; Being Hard on Ourselves; Return of the Sneaky Bully Voice; A Letter to a Bully.

Photo Credits: freedigitalphotos.net.

A Christmas Present to Ourselves

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With Christmas comes the inevitable present-buying for others. If you’re like me, you love to shop for presents. I love the challenge of trying to find a gift that will make someone smile and then the creativity you can bring to wrapping up and hosting family get-togethers. Maybe you get a bit hypomanic- I definitely do, especially with shopping and seeing family & friends.

I find it’s easy to become overwhelmed by Christmas, caught up in presents, decorations, merry-making, twinkly lights and games. It’s all wonderful, but I do tend to forget about keeping myself in a “good space”- remembering to ground and centre myself and keep a sense of inner peace.

This Christmas I think it would be a great thing to remember ourselves in all the chaos and give ourselves the present of:

Committing to our own Inner Peace & Bipolar Balance.

How we can best do this will be individual to each of us, but I can think of no better present than making sure we look after ourselves and find as much Bipolar Balance as we possibly can.

Think about what you really need in this moment.

Here are some ideas for maintaining Bipolar Balance during the holidays:

– meditation or just time to sit and be with ourselves in peace and quiet.ID-10050484

– yoga.

– gentle dance to peaceful music.

– sitting and stroking a pet.

– cooking a healthy meal (or lots of healthy meals!).

– booking a massage or spa day.

– walking in fresh air.

– tidying that messy drawer or cupboard.

– swimming.

– crafting/drawing/painting.

– taking time out in a quiet room when at friends & families’ Christmas parties.

–  journalling.

– staying away from the shops if we’re feeling energised and impulsive.

– hot bath with aromatherapy oils.

– recognise early on if we have over-committed and reduce our schedules. Nobody will mind and if they do, remember we need to put our health first!!

– light a candle and give thanks for all we’re grateful for.

My head is already buzzing with mind chatter, so I’ve been taking the Bach Flower Remedy White Chestnut which is excellent for quietening things down a bit! Impatiens is also good for reining in that hypomanic speediness, impatience and pressure to do, do, do!!

Click here for more information on Bach Flower Remedies.

Let’s commit to our Wellness and Peace of Mind this Christmas! 

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Photo Credit:nuttakit via freedigitalphotos.net;sakhorn38 via freedigitalphotos.netSimon Howden via freedigitalphotos.net.

A Little More Self-Forgiveness

Last week I posted about Self-Forgiveness and how important it is for us to be forgiving towards ourselves.

Many of us who have experienced mental health issues may be particularly hard on ourselves, or have had unpleasant or traumatic experiences that we blame ourselves for. All this blame and constant self-bullying is in no way helpful to our wellness. We cannot change what has happened by berating ourselves for it. We feel we deserve to carry the weight of the past around us, when in reality we deserve perfect healing.

To help with forgiving ourselves I prepared this meditation. It takes 20 minutes so it’s a good idea to make sure you wont be disturbed and let yourself have some quality time for yourself.

A Little Meditation

I have a little meditation I wanted to share with you guys as I find it really helps lift my low mood, so I thought I’d do a bit of experimenting with video. The meditation lasts about 10 minutes so if you need a little pick-me-up and have a bit of free time why not have a go!

I’d be grateful if you could let me know if there are any issues with viewing- thank you!

From Overcare for Others’ Opinions, to Self Discovery.

One of my unhealthy patterns, throughout life thus far, has been to care about what other’s think of me way too much. All the time.

I think many, many people do this: dare I say- particularly women?! But I guess there are those that just worry a little about what everyone will think of their new outfit, and those who care so much about what others think that it affects their life decision-making process, and causes great anxiety (possibly Social Phobia), even shame.

I fall into the latter category.

There are many ways I’ve allowed this anxiety over the opinions of others to affect me, but two really stand out.

Jobs

I’ve allowed my care for what other people think of me to push me into many unsuitable jobs. Jobs that I got just to prove to others that yes I could work and that I wasn’t just going to “sponge off the government”. This usually led to barely controllable Bipolar symptoms.

(I don’t believe it is sponging off the government now. I know I truly was ill with Bipolar and had a genuine need for that financial support. There are many who genuinely need this support).

Body Image

Caring so much for the opinions of others led me to a fairly appalling view of my body- I think I thought this kept me slim and healthy. It did for a while, but not anymore. My self esteem was, and still is, massively affected by how I think others perceive my body. I worried about what other people thought about what I ate. In fact I still have issues about eating in front of other people.

Not Knowing or Trusting Myself

With my mind constantly obsessing and analysing myself from the perspective of how others perceived me, I lost that real sense of knowing who I am. I still don’t trust myself to make good decisions (someone once said to me that there is no right or wrong decision- only the effects of that decision to deal with). Lack of Identity is a core feature of Borderline Personality Disorder and I believe present in Bipolar too (see Bipolar/Borderline Sensitivity & Loss of Identity)

What do I want from life? This is such a tough question to answer. I’m so used to thinking I must follow the set path laid out for me by society: school, university, career, marriage, babies. Anything less would be a failure right?

But Bipolar has made me reframe my perspective. It prevented me from progressing further down this pre-determined social path. I had to reassess what I believed success to be.

Does it really matter that I’m not going to be a doctor or teacher? I might never be married or have children. Does this matter? Was this really what I wanted in the first place? I don’t know!!! I don’t know what I want. I’m in the process of finding out.

Self Discovery 

Self Discovery is a term I really like. It makes the whole process sound more subjective and a bit of an adventure. There is room for expansion and exploration.

Self Discovery also requires that we are mindful of our thoughts and feelings towards things. You can’t discover what you like or don’t like unless you pay attention to your own reactions. This may sound simplistic but, believe me, I’ve been studying everybody else’s reactions for so long it can really be a challenge to listen to myself.

(Mindfulness is a well known tool in managing depression and anxiety, so allowing this process of self discovery can only be a positive thing).

Individual Needs

I’m enjoying exploring my innate NEED to write, to learn and to analyse things in a psychological way (sometimes this is a good thing, other times it can lead to rumination on the negative). I have a lot of passion in me- for art, music, causes, people, animals, many things.

Everyone has needs that I never knew existed and are completely different from one person to the next. My partner has a need for physical exertion, for engaging in sports like football and cycling. His method of relaxing is through challenges and using skill, for example he loves playing pool.

I’ve never really viewed these things as NEEDS before, more as indulgence and a luxury. I’m learning they are actually essential to our health as a “whole” being-: physical, mental and at a soul-level. All these facets are important in creating a balance in our lives.

I’m learning that I have many sides to myself that all need equal attention: there’s Rachel the artist, Rachel the writer, Rachel the philosopher, Rachel the musician, Rachel the student, Rachel the child who needs to play, laugh and have fun, Rachel the explorer who needs to be out there trying new things and going to new places.

Managing These Needs

These are all needs that I never really knew I had in me. They all need attention which sometimes feels completely overwhelming.

I think organisation might be the key here, which, when you’re a creative person, feels a bit boring and sensible as there is also that yearning for spontaneous creative flow. But I’m learning that you need to put in the structure, discipline and work before you even get to the creative flow. I have to put in the time playing scales on the piano to allow my fingers to work with skill and efficiency when playing the more desirable pieces of music.

Motivation Through Inspiration

I also need to devote time to inspiration. This comes to me when I’m watching ballet, listening to music or out in nature. I always used to view spending time on these things as selfish. But I now know I NEED them!!

Whilst watching the Olympic Gymnasts I was inspired by their beauty, grace and power, but also by their total commitment and dedication to gruelling training, and hours and hours of hard graft in the gym. It is this discipline and mental strength in overcoming self-doubt and discomfort that I find so admirable. It is lacking from my character and something I would like to develop. They are great role models for me and provide motivation.

I’m learning that I do have control of my life- I don’t just have to let it happen to me. I can take it by the reins and steer it in the direction I want it to go, no matter whether other people approve of this direction or not.

Resources

How to Stop Worrying What Other People Think

Social Phobia

Bipolar: The Identity Thief

Who Am I? Borderline Personality Disorder and Identity Problems

How You See Yourself is What Matters (blog post in relation to the writer’s eating disorder and Complex-PTSD)

Photo Credits: Girl & Apple by Imagery Majestic; Cartwheel by Imagery Majestic via freedigitalphotos.net.