breathe, just breathe.

Today there is no silencing the darkness.  Today I am shrouded in a heavy, black cloud.

This cloud slowly sucking life from my body.  A storm cloud, thundering so loudly I am unable to hear anything but its booming.

Booming, booming, booming.  Silencing peace.  Silencing positivity.  Silencing all logic.

 

Physically, I hurt.  More of an ache, really.   Waxing and waning like the tide.  My hands and feet tingle when the anxiety comes.  The weight of my chest increasing 10 times when the feeling is at its worst.

I am tired, so tired (even though I slept from 11am Tuesday until 8am today, Wednesday).  In spite of this excessive sleep, all I want to do is go back to sleep (but even that thought brings anxiety about tomorrow).

I spent the morning drinking coffee as usual, although today, I retreated into the quiet darkness of my closet.

I close the door and quietly cry.  Floods of tears soak my face, no matter how hard I try to hold them back. Even when I gather the strength to leave the safety of my closet, tears continue to escape.

My mind swirls with thoughts and emotion.

Worry. Sadness. Confusion. Anger. Defeat.

Breathe, just breathe I tell myself.

Breathe, just breathe.

mind-swirls

The swirling madness slows. Still, I am unable to make it stop.

I go through the motions.  I put one foot in front of the other.

I should eat, but I can’t.  I should watch a funny movie.  I should meditate.  I should take a walk.  I should exercise.  I should…. I should…I should…

Instead, I remain frozen in my depression.  I disappear into the blackness.  Trapped in my own head.  I feel sorry for myself.  I feel stupid for the illogical thoughts that control my mind.  I feel like a failure at life.  I feel, and feel, and feel. I feel until the only feeling I have is numbness…. then I remember,

Breathe, just breathe.

There are five reasons, I remain.  Five reasons, I keep going.  Five constant reminders to…

Breathe, just breathe.

One day the world may turn its back on them.  One day they may need someone in their corner.  One day they may feel as alone as I have felt.  As long as it is in my power, I will ensure that they are never alone (no matter the twists and turns they face, no matter their choices, no matter what).

I hug the little two, I look at pictures.  I write words the five may never read.  I find comfort in their goodness.  Peace in their innocence.  Hope in their potential.

Breathe, just breathe.

Brent stands by helpless, unable to pull me from the blackness.  He can’t. No one can.  I have to face it alone.  Yes, it helps to have support.  It is nice when someone reminds you they are there.  But ultimately, when the battle is with your mind, you are the one doing the fighting.

You are the one who must continually, tirelessly, each and every day, save yourself.  No one else can.

I know this will pass.  I’ve been here before.  Eventually the sun will shine again.  Light and love always win.

Even in this knowing, today I remain cloaked in my darkness. A familiar feeling.

Today, like many other days, I am my own worst enemy.  My mind and I at constant odds.

Some days I quiet my mind, no problem.  Other days, like today, my mind takes control and there is little peace to be found.

On the tough days I am thankful for my five reasons.  I am thankful for five reminders.

Reminders to breathe, just breathe.

breathe

 

 

Mindfulness: There’s An App For That

What is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness defined by Merriam-Webster:

1: the quality or state of being mindful

2:  the practice of maintaining a nonjudgmental state of heightened or complete awareness of one’s thoughts, emotions, or experiences on a moment-to-moment basis; also :  such a state of awareness

william-blake

Ever gotten in your car, arrived somewhere, then thought, “How did I get here?”

Sat down with a bag of Milanos turned on your fav Netflix addiction, suddenly look down only to realize the bag in your lap is empty?

Found yourself, anxious, mind racing, worrying about a situation that may or may not EVER happen?

I can’t be alone here! Right?

We lose ourselves in the noise.  It seems to be the norm these days. Have you ever met anyone that is just naturally mindful? Aware?  I haven’t.  I am sure they exist, heck maybe you are one of those people.  Good for you!  For the rest of us, mindfulness takes practice.

Practice Makes Perfect?

Practice?  Practice mindfulness?

Yes, that’s right.  Practice.

As for perfection?  I really [don’t] hate to break it to you, just in case you didn’t know already… You aren’t built for perfection. None of us are! Don’t expect your meditation to be.

It can be HARD to reign in the mind.  It feels unnatural to sit quietly…DOING NOTHING {GASP}. Even when I conquer the guilt, there are days my brain just won’t cooperate.  Insisting on going 10,000 directions, the mind refuses to be leashed.  Then, other days I have focus. I leave those meditations feeling like a BOSS, feeling like I can sit in Atlanta traffic without swearing, like I can solve world hunger (I’ll let you know if any of those happen).  Ups and downs.  So while I can’t promise you will suddenly find yourself sitting underneath the Bodhi tree.  What I will promise is, the more you practice mindfulness, the easier it becomes.

I’ve been finding more time for me. And guess what? The more time I spend in meditation, the more I find mindfulness in my every day life. I’m becoming more and more aware of my NOW.  Of this very moment. Of the breath giving life to my body.  Of the sounds and smells around me. Of my thoughts and emotions.

Mindfulness brings awareness to who you TRULY are.  

Who you were MEANT to be!

Where Do I Start?

Maybe you know all about meditation.  Maybe you know NOTHING.  Either way, mindfulness is achievable.  If you can breathe (if you can’t, I’m pretty sure you have bigger problems than how to be mindful…just sayin…) you can meditate.

The secret of meditation?? Meditating.

Just DO IT!  Start right now, wherever you are.

It’s as simple as taking a moment, closing your eyes, finding your breath and focusing on only that.  Breath in, Breath out.  That’s it.  Repeat.

Connect to that life-giving breath.  Really feel it.  Take some deep breaths.  Breathe normally.  When your mind begins to wander, gently bring it back to your breathing.

That’s it.  That’s meditation. That’s mindfulness. You did it!

It’s seriously that easy.  You don’t have to fold yourself into a pretzel, you don’t have to become a Buddhist monk.  You don’t even have to sing Om.  Nope, none of that.

And you know what I love?? Mindfulness meditation can benefit EVERYONE.  It makes my heart happy.  It doesn’t matter how old you are, your religious affiliation, your culture, your sexual orientation, your ethnicity.  None of that matters.  Meditation is for everyone, mindfulness helps us all!

I don’t know about you, but in this crazy world, I need all the help I can get.

You Said There Was An App For That!

Ok, ok so the point of all my ramblings…

If you wanna dig a little deeper into this mindfulness business, or maybe you already have a meditation practice. Doesn’t matter… Either way, I made a discovery for you!!!!!

I am SO STOKED with this new app I downloaded a few weeks ago!!!!  Yep, I am a weirdo.  Yep, I do get excited about random things.  This is one of those things.

smile-on-your-mind

Smiling Mind

On my quest to find some new guided meditations I found TONS of apps.  Lots of them say FREE!  Yay!! Right???!?!

Nope.

With most of the apps I downloaded, you got one measly meditation for free…that’s it…ONE…really!?!?!! Grrrr….Ain’t nobody got $$$ for that!!! 😉

So I was getting a little disappointed with my options…Until…

SMILING MIND 🙂

Wooohooo!!

First off let me just say, it’s completely FREE!  No in-app purchases, no pay to unlock, nope, none of that! F-R-E-E, free.

Smiling Mind is a non-profit who’s goal is bringing mindfulness to ALL! This app was designed by psychologists & educators who are on a mission to bring mindfulness meditation to the Australian NATIONAL curriculum. Yes, national (A whole country full of mindful kids?  Sounds Awesome!).

8yr

It is full of programs for everyone.  There are categories for kids, adults, classrooms, workplaces.  Whoever and wherever you are, you will find something here that fits.

There are also REMINDERS!  I love reminders.  (Even with them I tend to forget stuff…lots of stuff…) You can set the app up to remind you to meditate at certain times of day, or to remind you that you haven’t meditated in a certain time frame (1 day, 2 days, 1 week….it’s up to you).  I’ve set mine up to remind me if I’ve gone longer than 24hrs without meditating.  Although, I haven’t needed it thanks to Phoenix (he’s the youngest member of the Tribe).

 

Are We Going To Do Our Breathing Tonight?

I hear this EVERY night from my youngest, Phoenix.  We made the app part of our bedtime routine.  I love that they love to be mindful!!  It has made a difference in our bedtime routine!  After we do our short 5-10 minute guided meditation, the kids are relaxed, peaceful & ready to hit the hay!!!  Struggle-free bedtime??  Yes, please!! Sign me up!!!

Mindfulness is helping in their everyday lives as well.  They are finding ways to calm themselves, discovering emotions, making wishes,  appreciating the work their bodies do for them each day.  Spending those few minutes meditating at night brings us all more peace, and who doesn’t love peace?

So, what are you waiting for?

Check this app* out, and let me know what you think!!

*Smiling Mind also has a website.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Never Alone

I’m rarely alone.  He is always close.  I woke up this morning, to find him lying between my husband and I (I think that Brent is beginning to resent him).  My Depression doesn’t care about Brent’s resentment.   Secretly, I think he likes it.  He loves to separate me from everyone.  My Depression wants me all for himself.

This morning he whispers into my ear, “Stay in bed.”  “Just sleep.”  “We will spend the day together.”

tired

I get up anyway.  I head to the shower and try, with no success, to rinse him down the drain.  Don’t laugh.  Sometimes that works.  Sometimes I can calm my mind.  I can focus on my breathing.  I can drown him in my morning shower.

No such luck this time.  Together we step out of the shower and dry off.  “Let’s have a good cry”, he says. In that very moment, I catch a glimpse of us in the mirror.  I look him in the eye.  No, I will not cry.  I have no reason to cry.  “Since when do you need a reason?”, he sneers.

I realize he is right and, reluctantly, give in.  Big ugly sobs.  Tears flowing freely.  I see us in the mirror again, a terrifying sight.  I cry harder now.

I slowly walk into my closet and close the door.  In the complete darkness of my tiny, safe place I bury my head in my hands and quietly sob.

I cry for what could have been.  I cry for what was.  I cry for what never will be.  I just cry.

I sit in here for what seems like hours, in reality it has only been minutes.  Depression does that to me.  He is known to bring on the physical exhaustion of tireless work, even when my body has been sedentary.

I hear rustling in the bedroom, Brent might be waking.  Time to pull it together.

I slowly open the closet door but remain in my safe place.  With the light now on, I dress for the day.  Depression stops me before I am able to step out.  He drapes himself over me like a cloak.  Only then, does he allow me to leave the closet.

The weight of him exhausts me.  Some days are better than others.  There are days when my Depression weighs 5,000lbs.  There are days when he makes my entire body ache.

Then there are sunny days…

Days when he stays behind.  Days when I am really free to be myself.  Days when I feel hopeful.

I live for those days.  They serve as a reminder that I AM NOT MY DEPRESSION. We’ve been together for such a long time that I sometimes forget. Over the years the lines have become blurry, I cannot tell where my Depression ends and I begin.  On scary occasions, I feel as if I don’t begin at all.

afraid

False alarm, Brent is still sleeping soundly.  With my Depression shrouding me completely, we head downstairs.

Depression and I curl up together on the couch and sip our coffee.  Covered by my favorite blanket, we sit silently.  I normally find peace in silence.  But my Depression taught me that suffering lives in there too.

As I continue to sit in silence, sunlight beams in from the window and hits my, now puffy, face.   My Depression doesn’t like the sun; he doesn’t like for me to connect to Mother Earth at all.  He says it makes him shrink.  He says I don’t need her.  He reminds me of all the years we have held each other close, all the experiences we have had together.

I don’t like these reminders.  I cry again.

I am tired of crying.  Today I want to be me.  I want to live.  Really live, not just go through the motions.

I make up my mind to do this.  I begin to focus on the heat of the sunshine on my face.  I focus on the sounds of nature coming from my own backyard.  I begin to bring awareness to my breath.

Depression gets restless, “Stop this nonsense”, he demands.  He bombards my mind with: to do lists, worries, dust bunnies, regrets and random thoughts.   I allow the thoughts to come.  Then I remember, I am going to live today.  I am going to be me today.  I am in charge, not him.  I let the thoughts float by like clouds in the sky.  I breath in.  I breath out.  I begin to count my breath.  Inhale, 1.  Exhale, 2. Inhale, 3.  Exhale, 4….

I start feeling lighter.  What? Lighter?  My Depression is lifting.

I have lulled the monster to sleep.  I continue with my meditation.  I continue to count my breath.  I continue to let my thoughts come and then pass.  I am not my Depression, I am not my thoughts.  I am me.

When I know he is really sleeping, I lift off what remains stuck to me.  I gently lay him down on the couch and cover him with our favorite blanket.  I stand up slowly, scared I will wake him, and turn to face the rest of my day.

I know he will wake soon and we will be reunited.  For now, I look back at him slumbering on the couch and smile.

Today I will live.  Today I will be me…. even if just for a little while.

Shhhhh…don’t wake the monster.

rumi