I think one of the benefits of pausing to be grateful and reflect on positives is that it helps with perspective. I’ve struggled so much through the last few months, and living with PTSD can be a pretty hopeless situation. I’ve felt that I just can’t so many times, and taking steps in recovery have at times seemed to difficult or overwhelming or inaccessible.
One of my biggest challenges has been exercise or really body movement of any kind. I have mostly just wanted to stay in bed and block the world out, and I am still working through the situation of my brain thinking an elevated heart rate means I’m going to die. Amanda’s blog and her yoga practice have been such a calming and accessible way for me to stay mentally engaged with what I’ve wanted to do even when it was too hard to make my body do it, and she has kept me motivated to stay with it until I could get back to yoga practice myself.
She has many videos in which she breaks down yoga poses so that it’s clear and understandable how to hold the pose in a way that’s most accessible to you, and I think she is a wonderful example of what conscientious yoga teachers do to make the world a better place. She is a truly beautiful person and her good energy is contagious, even in the blogosphere!
Whatever gear I’m in, it’s totally mismatched with my engine. There’s an auto-centric analogy for you.
After drowning in angsty anxiety for most of the day yesterday I finally got off my butt and did some work, part of it a request from a non-profit I do pro-bono work for. I knew how to fulfill their request, I just didn’t know if I could, or how long it would take, so I went through the steps of learning how to get the information they needed, attempted it, found an issue with my software license that prevented me from moving forward, put in a request to tech support and updated the requester. I worked long enough to make up for the not working I did all afternoon, then went to bed. Done.
I was hoping to be in a better place mentally, but I’m not, so I have a choice: just keep pounding away at my to-do list and hope that something breaks loose, or do a lot of meditating and yoga and thoughtful walks. I would so much rather pound away at my to-do list, because it somehow seems easier. So I am pretty sure that means the answer is meditation and yoga.
By the time Friday night rolls around, my brain is doing something like this:
(checking weather forecast) ok so I didn’t get around to my side projects for work this week and I could work on the mapping project tomorrow, or I could work on that paper I want to write…exercise would be good, but it’ll be pretty warm so maybe I’ll go for a walk if I get up early enough because I don’t want to sweat a lot…but I could work all afternoon and that would be fine, and it’ll help me get caught up so I’ll be ready to deal with whatever happens next week, and I’ve been wanting to get some forward progress on that mapping and haven’t done it…I really need to get my shit together…maybe Monday I’ll try to be better about eating and exercise, I just need to get caught up on these projects……………………
By the time Friday night rolls around, my body is doing something like this:
Wow, I still have a lot of tension in my shoulders, and the spot on my shoulder that sometimes has stabbing pain is flaring up…I really want to rest and take a break…are you noticing what is happening? I need you to take a time out and start writing about your trauma experiences, because you’re still stuck on a few things and you just learned that writing can be an effective way to integrate trauma…you’re also carrying a lot of tension in your hips and your breathing is still shallow a lot of the time, so take some time to practice yoga…you just learned that approaching yoga differently than you’ve done it so far could be really beneficial to your nervous system, so take some time to try that out and see what happens…………..
Things aren’t so hard. Still hard, yes, but not so hard. Positive change doesn’t seem impossible. Challenges don’t seem insurmountable. Calm and focus are not longer out of my reach. Yoga is not too difficult for me to enjoy. Prioritizing a balanced diet, sleep and rest is not making me miserable, behind with work or friendless. I am not alienating people by asking for what I need. I am not crippled by being honest with myself on the habits I need to change.
Things are better, I am healing and I am grateful.
I’m working, I’m focused, I’m doing yoga without issue other than that it’s challenging for my body, I’m ignoring things that aren’t important right now, I’m connecting, I’m planning ahead, I’m not pushing myself to do things “just because” or out of some unhealthy sense of obligation, I’m eating for fuel and nutrition and not to cope, I’m sleeping, I’m learning and I am so, so grateful for today <3.
Yesterday I completed the yoga session I had to stop in the middle because it was activating me. I’ve lost 2.5 lbs in 2 days. My resting heart rate is almost back down where I want it. I’m eating mindfully and not to cope. I’m drinking my water goals. I’m focusing on work deliverables and getting them out on a timeline I’m satisfied with. I’m saying no.
And this is in the middle of an emotionally challenging and physically tiring week. I’m taking a hard look at what I want and where I want to be and how I get there and who I get there with – and without.
I’m sitting and working on my laptop for long hours, I was in a three hour meeting last night and since I got back from the desert I’ve had very little time for things like cutting my nails and dealing with all of the sand that seems to be clogging my pores and cooking healthy meals. I’ve done those things anyway. I feel like I just have no time right now, which usually sends anxiety skyrocketing for me and freezes me. I’m still moving through my day, doing what I need to and doing things that take care of me, including sleeping and staying calm and reasoned instead of engaging with the thoughts that send anxiety skyrocketing out of control.
I quit drinking for now. It wasn’t a big decision, it just came up last night when I declined an offered drink because I decided I didn’t need that.
Understanding that alcohol is a social lubricant for a lot of people made me realize I don’t have that need, and the benefit to me of not drinking is enough right now to make me lose interest. Practicing mindfulness is really starting to pay off.
I spent the entire Summer Solstice inside, and most of it in a dimly lit room. I’m grateful that I have so much room for improvement. Yoga was not helpful yesterday, it was activating. So I stopped.
I started listening to Brené Brown’s book The Power of Authenticity yesterday. She’s a shame researcher and a delightfully authentic human. In her work she’s found that we experience shame the same way we experience trauma, and I want to heal from shame as much as I want to heal from trauma. I’m starting to understand why they often go hand in hand.
I wanted to do a yoga session and thought that would be within my bandwidth today. 11 minutes in, I realized I was getting activated on my way to a trigger, I was hot and sweaty but not in an “I’m exercising” way, I wasn’t enjoying it and was actually starting to be rather miserable.
I wanted to push through, because yoga is supposed to be a good thing, it isn’t supposed to be activating, it’s supposed to help me connect to my body, I didn’t want to be a quitter, it wasn’t even a hard practice…also I am too fat to get into some of the poses, I can’t believe I can’t do this right now, I’ll never be able to get my life on track…
Ah. The shame gremlins she talked about. The thoughts that make me = bad and wrong and not good enough.
I stopped the session. Yoga wasn’t right for me yesterday. Maybe because I was in the process of learning about shame and realizing how much shame I feel about my body. Maybe because I needed more rest (I hiked for two hours the day before). Maybe because I needed to experience recognizing what is good for me and what is not good for me and acting on that for myself, not because someone else said that was the way to do it.