Tag Archives: living

Only for The Lockdown

Only for the “Lockdown” I may never have:

  • Experienced gratitude for being allowed to go for walks.
  • Followed the flight of a swan as far as my eye could see.
  • Witnessed a heron spearing a fish with its beak and thought it was amazing (I’m vegetarian).
  • Had so much quality time with my boyfriend.
  • Got my boyfriend into Irish radio.
  • Convinced my boyfriend to enter the daily radio competition so we’d double our chances.
  • Dragged my boyfriend for his first proper canal walk.
  • Felt surprised when he wanted to walk further than me.
  • Wrote a poem about COVID-19 because all my cousins were doing it.
  • Attended online classes via Zoom.
  • Participated in a Women’s Circle (via Zoom).
  • Attended a Life Coach (via Zoom).
  • Started giving Life Coaching sessions over Zoom.
  • Had video chats with friends, who live within a 30 km radius, using Zoom.
  • Paid for a Zoom subscription.
  • Watched a movie with homemade mini-pizzas, a nice bottle of red and a basin of popcorn on a WEDNESDAY.
  • Listened to a podcast while lying on my bed. Listening to podcasts had only ever been a multi-tasking activity (alongside walking or cooking).
  • Gazed out the bedroom window at a lone star.
  • Listened to the wind in the trees.
  • Had a day-time nap.
  • Enjoyed bringing the bins out and hanging out the washing.
  • Walked all the way to the “Big Tesco” instead of driving and didn’t mind queuing because “Sure, what else would I be doing?”
  • Rejoiced when I spotted eggs in the supermarket.
  • Let my hair go this grey.
  • Reevaluated where I am in my life and what I want.
  • Had all the time in the world to figure it out.
  • Opted to write this list instead.

What have you been doing that you may never have done only for the “Lockdown”?

Anon

I’ve been shaken up. The way I’m relating to the world has shifted. I’m excited and I’m resisting.

I’m almost half-way through a Non-Duality course with Mark Molumby and I’m doing lots of research on the subject as well as exploring the topics of psychology, spirituality and psychedelics.

As we debate in class, a nervousness bubbles. My identity and attachments are challenged. The ego mutters Uh-oh!

During a class meditation, I go from living in a head of rapid-fire thoughts, predictions and analysis to a melting relaxation to energy whooshing up the front and down the back of the body to a vision of a spiral then a single eye.

As is customary for me, I go from experiencing to thinking about the experience, wanting to describe it and squeeze out meaning. But I’m noticing this habit so my direct experiences are becoming more intense.

I’m having terrifying and wonderfully vivid dreams- a terror of falling backwards from an extreme height then deciding to do a skydive to face the fear and be reborn; a river of colours flanked by ancient trees; and communicating with my boyfriend without words.

I’ve lost interest in Netflix and Love Island, novels and too-sweet biscuits. The humdrum of dramas and complaining seems redundant.

I don’t need to switch off anymore. I’m turned on.

I’m hungry for more- more newness in a return home. I crave sitting in stillness.

For too many years, I struggled to cope with the norms of growing up- exams, holding down a job, finding someone to love me, earning enough money, getting a “normal”, pensionable career, and buying a house (I still haven’t done some of the above, probably never will).

Every so often, I believed myself to be such a failure that I thought I’d be better off dead.

So I worked on myself- I went for counselling, inhaled self-help books, and chanted. I sucked on homeopathic remedies, exercised daily, and ate healthily.

I completed several courses, set up a well-being business, and created Mindfulness, meditation and Positive Living classes, which I myself benefit from immensely.

I’m seeing that we all struggle. And in that struggle, we grow, we redirect and we connect.

Over four years ago, I entered into a relationship with a man who, without years of trying and deconditioning, is naturally in the flow of giving and receiving love. I watched and I learned.

In the process of feeling vulnerable, loving him and accepting his adoration, I slowly started to accept myself.

In the early days, I admitted to a Life Coach that losing Luis would be the worst thing that could happen to me. I now trust myself (and life) enough to see that I am enough.

A possible separation is just an experience. An imagination. An illusion. I don’t have to make it who I am.

I’ve also come to realise that, instead of rejecting myself by judging my feelings, I can feel my feelings and be okay. Better than okay.

I can allow my emotions to split me open in a tear-soaked surrender. An abandon. A scream: “Fuck it, I’m ready!” then “Please help me!”

And in the aftermath of the cracking and the softening, everything feels like it’s inside me- the passionate singer, the rain-streaked wind, a mug of tea, a warm embrace, my body moving, embers of laughter.

I’m energised and enthused. The world is throbbing with beauty and adventure.

My mind still questions, wants to understand the meaning of all of this- the universe and why we are here, how it all began.

But I’m willing to let go of the need to know and control everything. I can’t control anything anyway. What a relief and a blessed reclamation of energy.

Maybe there’s nothing to figure out after all. It simply is. I am. So enjoy the ride.

Now I’m detaching from all that I think I know, from my judgments, conditioning and expectations, from my loved ones, and from what I believe myself to be. And in the detaching, I set myself free. I set everyone free.

And that’s a scary place too. I worry about the ripple effects on my relationship.

But that’s me jumping back into the head. So I stay present to the present, to my feelings, to what life is offering me.

I open my heart and come alive.

In my honest reflections, I’ve observed a desire to cling to Mark and all that he can offer. I could do so many things with him, learn so much, become different, feel better, and travel to fascinating places.

But nobody can take me anywhere. It’s all within me. I have the power to take myself there. And there is nowhere to go.

So I unhook an attachment to Mark also. I’m floating solo yet more connected than ever.

Images: Google & Tinybuddha.com

The Demon

Yesterday was World Mental Health Day. I considered posting on social media about my own mental health journey. But I decided against it. What if my housemates/family/extended family read it? 

Revealing my deepest darkest demons could work against me, I feared. So I kept silent, ashamed of what I’ve been through.

But today, a sadness overwhelms me. So many gorgeous, creative, fun people come to the conclusion that the only solution is to die.

I pause in remembrance of these people and all they had to offer the world. And this blog post starts bubbling up inside me. And when that happens, I have to stop everything and write.

I was a sensitive child, one who thought and felt deeply. I still do. I grew up to be extremely insecure- lacking confidence and filled with fear.

I had my good times of course, periods when I felt and looked good. When I excelled at school and college and when I was prolific in my writing. When I enjoyed hanging out and partying with friends, flirting with men, holidaying on Greek islands and adventuring across continents.

But the demon was always lurking, only a scratch beneath the surface. Ready to remind me that I wasn’t good enough, that I’d fail, that there was something wrong with me. That I’d never be fixed.

Brainwashed by this beast, I hated myself and wished I were different. I’d try to be normal but my version of normal was an unattainable, unsustainable perfection. I’d push and compare and question myself so much that I’d eventually be spent, both physically and mentally.

Devoid of energy, I’d withdraw. Afraid to show my face. Feeling as ugly on the outside as the inner voices that belittled me and held me back.

In my teens, I developed an eating disorder and in my late teens, I was put on antidepressants. I stayed on medication for years, hoping to feel better, do better, be better.

But my low self-esteem brought me to people and situations that reinforced my opinion of myself. I gave up hobbies, left jobs, dropped out of college and went on the dole. I didn’t believe myself capable of anything more.

depression

At 22 years of age, I met the man who would become my husband. He begged me to stop smoking and drinking alcohol. He asked me to dress differently and not have male friends. He convinced me to start practising Islam. He wanted me to change my name and wear a headscarf.

I knew I couldn’t succeed at my own life so why not take on a new identity? Losing myself in baggy robes was a relief. Maybe I could be saved.

The relationship was tumultuous. He wanted a completely different wife. Here was yet another example of my inadequacy.

After we got married, I hit a really low point. I was so agitated, I wanted to bounce my head off the walls.

I took a few days off work and when I admitted to my boss that I suffered from depression, she fired me on the spot. I didn’t contest it. I wasn’t able for anything. I wasn’t able for life.

Family and friends marvelled at how I wasn’t fulfilling my potential. I was academically clever and I won awards for my writing. I was attractive, articulate and athletic. Yet I consistently doubted myself and gave in to the negative self-talk.

Time and time again, I’d make a decent stab at living in the real world. But before long, I’d wear myself out, self-sabotage then crawl into a hole for another while. I simply couldn’t handle grappling with the monster in my mind AND being a functioning member of society.

In those moments, I honestly believed that I’d be better off dead. I felt lost, alone and so broken that nobody could get through to me. Nobody could love me out of the chasm.

It’s taken me many years of highs and lows, hard work and self-care to get to where I am now. I’m proud to say that I’m doing well.

I’m living on purpose and helping others to do the same by sharing what I’ve learned. I’m showing people that they’re not alone, that we all go through hard times and that there is a way (there are many ways) out of the demon’s stranglehold.

The monster is still only a scratch beneath the surface. When I don’t practice self-care, when I’m not true to myself or when I have a few too many drinks, I tunnel under to where he’s waiting for me. And then, despite all the personal development I’ve undertaken, I can still be hypnotised.

Thankfully, I always catch a glimmer of light and I pull myself back out again. Then I shine that light on the monster and ask him what he wants. I understand where he’s come from and I listen to what he tells me. He’s not as scary as I once believed.

The purpose of this blog post is to tell you that I know how it feels – I’ve experienced the craziness and the desperation to make it stop.

What I’m trying to say is that you’re not alone. How you’re feeling right now won’t last. Nothing does. You will feel better. You’re worth fighting for. Look for the light because it is there.

hand-reaching-up-to-light

Images: Google

You’re Making a Scene

Do you ever question why you feel bad? The majority of the time I feel bad is as a result of a thought I’ve just entertained.

Without the thought, I’d feel perfectly fine. I’d be in the moment.

However when I live in my head, thoughts of shoulds and shouldn’ts, worst-case scenarios, overwhelming to-do lists and doomed-to-fail expectations flood me with feelings of annoyance, panic, disappointment and exhaustion.

The thought of what needs to be done teleports me into a bad mood. The thought of the consequences of breaking out of my comfort zone keeps me barricaded inside it. The thought of the negatives eclipses the positives.

Thoughts can cause energy leaks, destroy special moments and meddle with my relationships. Living in my thoughts dishonours what is. It’s right there and I’m missing it.

Armed with this realisation, whenever I feel bad, I ask: Is this feeling a product of a thought I’ve attached to?

If it is, I acknowledge it and let it go. If it isn’t just a thought, if it really is my feeling, I allow myself to fully feel it so that it can transform and so that I can heal and grow.

The average brain thinks about 50,000 thoughts per day. There’s no use trying to resist them. Simply observe them and let them float on by like clouds in the sky.

The danger is when you identify with your thoughts. If it looks like your ego’s making a scene, disentangle yourself from it. Pause. Breathe. Release.

Get out of your head and come back into your body. Stop thinking. Feel your way through.

I still catch myself holidaying in my head. It’s like a booze-fuelled break from reality. It’s certainly not boring up there but it’s seriously unhealthy and leaves me feeling drained and full of fear.

When I notice that my thought-inspired dramas are spilling into my reality, I make the decision to STOP THINKING. I have to make that decision on a fairly regular basis.

I remember to count my blessings, breathe and be present. I swap my critical, fear-based, lack-based self-talk to a more loving, gentle, encouraging pep-talk.

Thoughts will come and they will go. One minute they’ll tell you one thing, the next minute they’ll swear it’s the opposite. Why would you believe such an unreliable storyteller?

The truth is in this moment. Not in your thoughts about this moment. But in this beautiful, unadorned present moment.

This is your reality. Right now. Look at it. Listen to it. Give gratitude for it. Breathe into it. Now.

Mindfulness-Movement

The Warrior

There is always something to think, to worry about, to get angry over. Always some drama, a problem to figure out, a decision to make.

With this realisation, I detach, let go, and travel within. The thoughts form and dissolve. The movie of my life still plays on. But I turn down the volume and focus within.

I connect with a deep sense of peace, a groundedness. I listen. I breathe.

Like a novice snorkeller in a world of underwater magic. Astonished by the beauty. Yet all I can hear is my breathing.

I could be lifted from this peace and wonder by an unconscious wandering to wherever my thoughts whimsically transport me. Or I could choose, moment by moment, to return to the present and to appreciate what’s before me, what’s part of me, what I really am.

A slice of this miracle of life presents itself to me. I come to my senses. I savour in the deliciousness of it all. I’m nourished. Whole.

No fear any more. Really. Although there’s still fear, insecurity, discomfort, dangling into the chasm of the unknown.

A lifetime of clinging and scrambling. Dictatorially and unintelligently controlling. Resisting, closing, lashing out against the emotions and the people who triggered me.

Now, I make a different choice. I lean in. Allow. Listen. And with that, comes relief. Learning. Growth. Strength.

I am a warrior in my courage to feel, to be, to connect with others, even though I could be wounded at any moment.

I shrug off my armour and lay down my shield. I no longer point my sword threateningly at the sky. I bare my heart to the heavens.

I have never seen a warrior so vulnerable. Yet she closes her eyes just to feel the sunlight on her skin.

Nature congratulates her with pink and white blossoms, yellows and purples and oranges. Trees reveal themselves to her. Birdsong replaces her soundtrack of doubt. The universe is full.

Her body now free to embrace those she loves. And that has to be everyone. Everything. Herself. Myself. My movie and my constantly altering reviews and reactions.

I drop judgment. I wince at the pain of unhooking attachments.

With loss, there’s lightness. An opening, a flow. A current of love. A deep-seated peace.

I go within and feel calm. I open so that I can live.

I feel a tingling of love wash over me. I understand. I know. I connect.

As soon as I see clearly, my goggles fog over again. For it goes beyond my limited ways of words, analysis and explanation.

It just is. As I am. And I will remember again and again.

meditation sun

Sometimes

Do you ever feel so bad about yourself that you can’t fathom that great things could happen? You don’t believe in yourself. You forget all the good that you do.

Sometimes.

You close yourself off to all the love that surrounds you. You compare yourself unfavourably to others and see everyone else as confident, successful, flourishing…

You focus on the negatives. You spot rejection, failure and disappointment in every comment, action and imagination.

Sometimes.

You push loved ones away then hate yourself more for doing so. For self-destructively banishing what you crave: love, care and affection.

They try to love you. They offer you acceptance. But deep down, you’re never going to measure up or be worthy of their naive loving of you.

You shut down the love. You silence the laughter. You dare not believe in your potential. It frightens you.

You sob. You cry. You let go. You open up. You let him in.

Sometimes.

A smile breaks through. You can’t help but laugh. He’s so good.

He sees the best in you. You want to be that person. And one day, as you sip on a coffee in the afterglow of his presence, you realise that you are.

You are that bouncing, brave, beautiful person that he admires. But you block yourself.

Sometimes.

You think thoughts and you believe them. You identify with the bad.

You stop dancing. You don’t feel the music. You forget who you are. You exist but you cease living.

Sometimes.

While the real you simmers patiently beneath. Always there. Waiting for you to shake off the shackles and rejoin the dance.

Ready to roar in perfection. And smile and love and shine. And be free.

He loves you because finally you remember that you love you. You just don’t believe it.

Sometimes.

Image: Author's Own

Image: Author’s Own

Take Me Over

I decide to open up to a fellow holistic therapist about how I’m feeling. I tell her that nothing necessarily bad is happening to cause this feeling but that I sense its heaviness.

I’m choosing to carry it around and I’m not letting it go. I admit that I’m afraid, which makes me want to close down and not care in order to protect myself.

My friend instructs me to close my eyes and really get into the feeling of being scared. She tells me to allow it to grow and expand and fill my body.

I feel an energy in my chest and my stomach. It feels like fear then anger and then I relax. I open my eyes and relay this to her.

She asks if there’s any bad feeling left. I tell her there is. Sadness and grief. So I’m told to repeat the process of feeling and allowing the sadness.

I see the little girl inside of me. I feel what she’s feeling. But there’s a resistance within me. I don’t particularly want to go there now. Been there, done that.

Despite my current resistance, this year I’ve been loving myself more. When I feel bad, I remember not to reject myself. Because of this major personal breakthrough, I know that I’ll be okay.

My friend tells me that I’m repeating an old pattern. There really is nothing to be afraid of. I need to face my fear so that I can see that it’s just an illusion.

I already feel much better. This makes so much sense. I usually resist these bad feelings, fearing that they will control my life and affect how I behave, react and relate to others.

My friend reminds me that this is where my resistance lies. I don’t want these feelings. I’m trying to avoid certain behaviours. And I’m fearing the worst possible outcome.

“Stop resisting,” my friend insists.

“Allow the feeling to take you over. That will create a shift. A letting go. Which will open you up in wonderful ways.

Open your heart. Allow yourself to be hurt. And the funny thing is, you won’t be hurt. Because the real you can never be destroyed.”

She predicts that letting go of resistance and allowing the feelings to take me over will change everything. I won’t have to worry about what might happen, how I may react or the many ways I could self-destruct.

She also warns that just because I’ve now stopped pushing against the swing of resistance doesn’t mean that it will immediately cease moving.

“Once you stop pushing the swing, it will continue to move back and forth for a while. But it will be less forceful and it will gradually swing less and less,” she smiles.

I leave my friend’s house with an unfamiliar feeling in my chest. Is it pain? Discomfort?

I allow the feeling to grow and expand until I realise what it is. My heart is open. And that’s okay.

withanopenheart.org

withanopenheart.org