It’s often in the most stressful times of our lives that we’re told to ‘relax’ or ‘take some deep breaths’, but if we’re not used to doing them it can really take a lot of effort to calm ourselves down.
I’ve been practicing yoga, on and off for a few years, but more in-depth over the past year and a half. It has taught me to breathe using my lower diaphragm instead of breathing from the top of my chest. I’ve practiced it so much that it’s become second nature to me. At any given point, if I stop and focus on my breathing I will usually find myself breathing from my lower belly.
As long as my fatigue isn’t too bad, I usually get on my mat. This ends up happening I’d say 4-5 times a week as I usually have 1 or 2 days that I just really can’t do anything. Yoga helps clear my mind, get my body moving and flowing and helps me mentally, physically and spiritually. I love practicing.
The past few weeks have been extremely stressful and emotional for me. Spring and Summer 2013 I heavily relied on ativan to help calm my nerves. Since then I’ve been able to manage only taking the medication during extremely rare times – I’d say maybe 1 every other month. But within the past week I’ve almost always taken one before I went to bed. I’d wind down my body to get ready for bed and all my practice of relaxation went out the window. My body has been so tightly wound up that I would try and try and try and I wouldn’t be able to get my body to relax.
Why, if I’ve practiced so much, could I not execute in the time of need?
I like to think of myself as a master of a lot of things. When it comes to yoga and meditation, I think that I have a great practice and do very well, EXCEPT in the grand scheme of it all I am such a novice. How can I expect to be able to affect my emotions with the drop of a hat?
When I went for my acupuncture appointment this week I told her how much of a wreck my body was.
“Well, no wonder it is!” she said. “You’ve been dealing with your Grandpa, you’re conflicted on your trip, you’re dealing with the emotions of a recent break up and you’re still grieving relationships passed. BUT, I think you’re doing a great job of handling it so far.”
And she was right. If all of this would have happened last year this time, I would probably have locked myself in the basement, not talked to anyone and cried and cried and cried.
Now, I know that if I get on my mat it can help clear my head, at least for a bit.
Now, I know that my breathing is helping and calming me more.
Now, I know there is a problem, I’ve accepted the problem and I’m working towards fixing it.
They don’t call yoga flows or a meditation session ‘routines’, gurus/teachers/etc call it a practice. And that’s just what it is. We’re practicing. We’re always evolving, always encountering change and difficulty and we’re always practicing.
Instead of focusing on the fact that my body wouldn’t calm down as soon as I wanted and I needed to take an ativan so I could fall asleep, I should focus on the fact that I’ve come so far and I’m on the right road. If, instead, I went running for the hills with bottles of pain killers and thoughts of hurting myself, then I’d say I was traveling down the WAY WRONG wrong.
Today I was doing a short guided meditation practice that Gabby Bernstein has on her youtube channel. On the side, it recommended the following video. I think it’s so incredibly fitting that I came across it at the moment that I did. In the guided meditation, Gabby was having us let go of what wasn’t serving us. I was thinking about my Pap Pap and how holding on to the hope that he’s not going to go isn’t serving me. It’s out of my control. No matter what I do, there’s no way that I can change this situation. I need to let go of thinking I can control the outcome and rest in the assurance that the plan laid out for me is the right one.
I don’t like relying on medication if I don’t need it. I’m not going to beat myself up for the fact that I’ve been taking some anxiety medication to get through this difficult time, BUT I am going to remind myself that during this most difficult time is when I need to put the most work in. I don’t ever want to HAVE to rely on an anti-anxiety medication to calm me down. As I further in my practice, and evolve, I know that I will come to terms with my body and know exactly what I need to do to calm down.
Headspace – This app that you can download on your phone is WONDERFUL. The ‘Take 10’ program is free and guides you through meditations to help you learn. Once you’ve completed the Take 10 program it’s entirely worth subscribing and completing the other programs that are offered. As my friend once said, “It’s like a gym membership for your brain!”
Can’t Relax? Science Explains—and Helps Solve the Problem – Article on a scientific method for de-stressing.
Gabrielle Bernstein’s Youtube Channel – Subscribe to it. It’s worth it. And browse all of her fantastic videos.
~ Some videos I love are How to Heal Yourself Through Meditation, How to Handle Situations that are Out of Your Control, How to Release Fear, & Trust More, Fear Less.
Take time to invest in yourself. No matter what, we will always encounter conflict, we will always encounter sorrow and we will always encounter stress. Taking the time to learn how your body reacts, how you can react to that reaction and how you can be proactive is a vital part of living a healthy, well balanced life. I believe that especially with chronic illness this is something we must always be practicing. Even if it’s 10 minutes a day.
Put the time in and you’ll never be sorry that you did.
Wishing You A Pain Free Day!