My Self Care

It was the one-year anniversary of my son passing away. I woke up, looked at the day and decided to go back to bed. I awoke at noon when the mailman delivered me a package. I posted on Facebook that this will be a very long day, I had been delivered a new bookshelf-care and hopefully, I would hear my son’s voice when I read the book. This is the wrong way to start the day.

A good day would look like this: I get up, put on some coffee, drink some water with my meds, and get in the shower. I can not express how important it is to follow the same routine every day. Getting ready for the day, no matter how painful it may be, is absolutely essential. Exercise, I do qigong, is essential too. Movement recharges the brain and improves cognition. Meditation is essential too for it calms the mind, centers us with our heart, and reduces pain.

Not following a morning routine is harmful in this way. I skipped my meds, even though the day is one year since my son passed was going to be a doubly depressing day. Taking my meds late in the day means I will be up late and won’t get as much sleep. The trouble begins just this way. Skipping meds, losing sleep, falling into depression and skipping meals can lead into another day of the same then spiral down into hopelessness. This is how the cycle begins and this is why self- care is so important.

Meditation helps us become self-aware. On this day I did not accept how hard this day may be. Meditation would help me become aware of the grief so I could process it in a beneficial way. Allowing grief to happen would keep me out of bed. Then my medication would help me by supporting what my system is used to having. Good nutrition is needed to keep up with all the stress I will have on a difficult day.

Allowing and Disallowing: Finding truth in Pain

Today I am thinking of allowing/disallowing. Things we allow: changes in weather, we adapt. Aging, we adjust to body changes. We allow happiness and pleasant emotions. We allow friendships and gifts. When physical pain begins we disallow. I don’t want this. I don’t want to feel this. I want a pill. I want some brandy. Is this my fault? Why am I experiencing this, I don’t deserve to suffer.

The pattern of disallowing creates tension and increases pain. This is a battle of futility, I lived on the forefront of it while self-shaming, experiencing a lack of creativity, and distorted thinking. While suffering, I felt a door slam shut. The door trapped me in a version of myself that was untrue to who I am. Pain changed my reality and distorted my perceptions. Pain is not who I am. Suffering is not who I am. Pain made incongruent with my own power.

After a shoulder injury, I had to learn new skills to cope, these skills changed my story, and revealed the futility of fighting against pain. I live where the weather reaches twenty below zero. Coldness can trigger pain and tension in my shoulder. When Minnesotans walk in the cold they squeeze their shoulders together as if they can push their way through the cold air. This dysfunctional shoulder movement causes more pain.

Through meditation, I learned to relax my shoulders. I relax my breath to 6 breaths per minute, concentrating on only the sensing of my breath moving in and out. Where there is tension, I breathe relaxation into that shoulder muscle. I practiced this 3 times a day until I became of aware of what makes my shoulder tense, like the cold air or reaching for something. Relaxation and breathing helped me cope with the discomfort that the injury caused, and it helped my awareness of how my shoulder feels in different situations. I can create safety by moderating activity to prevent injury and releasing tension from stress and worry. At first, this took a few minutes, and learning to relax my shoulder at one command is tricky. Now when I feel shoulder pain, I recognize my emotions that are attached to the pain, such as fear of movement or feeling insecure about completing a task. I focus on strength and stability, while releasing tension and emotions as they arise.

From Fatigue to Dynamic

I am trying to solve the problem of procrastination. I have become aware of when and why I am procrastinating; I am finding excuses for putting things off. As I became aware of my procrastinating behavior I became more self-critical. Finding no benefit from this analysis, I have a new approach to working with this problem.

I have found new words to describe my condition. Some days I am dynamic and I use my energy wisely. On other days I am less dynamic or lacking energy.  After an eventful day I experience fatigue, all of my energy is gone.  I am tired the following day. My energy is stagnant and I find myself procrastinating.

I like the “Big Ball” and “Parting the Clouds” qigong exercises to increase my energy so that I can complete tasks. When I am scattered, not knowing where to start, the Big Ball exercise helps me focus. Parting the Clouds helps me recover the energy that I lack.

I find new words to help me through difficult times, when I describe the situation another way, it benefits me. When I use qigong to transform my energy, my attitude improves and I am liberated from self- criticism.  I no longer use words to describe excuses, I find words that will change my whole day around.

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This blog is for you, its a compilation of essays and helpful insights about illness, injury and healing. Overcoming challenges require courage, community, and connections. I share my story to gain insight and to add to the collective knowledge that helps us heal.

This is why it hurts?

When we have and injury the repeated signals to the brain make the brain more excitable. Repeated pain signals change our brains and is called central sensitization. The changes that occur, to the sufferer, feel as if the pain is getting worse.

Desentisizing exercises help us over come pain. We can change our brain and our response to pain by changing a few things.  Breathing exercises are important because slowing the breath resets our nervous system from excitement to a calm balance. The link below is an example of sympathetic breathing :

Respect as a Modality for Healing

I was thinking about how to explain to others how to overcome feeling overwhelmed when I remembered being five years old. I was attending the fourth of July pow-wow with my aunt, uncle, and cousins. We enter a teepee that shelters from the summer sun. I am introduced to an uncle named Sam. We sit down. It’s quiet, for a long time. Sam is an elder, he has long wrinkles, and his hair is white with age. I become aware of his breath and the way his presence embraced some kind of energy. The energy was stillness. The energy moved, yet it didn’t. Stillness. No one spoke until everyone was aware of this stillness. As a child, I interpreted this as my cooperation in showing respect. At the age of five, I knew this man deserved respect.

Today, when I recall this memory of Sam, I think of it as an energy experience. How did Sam create stillness in the midst of a pow-wow? Drumming, people dancing and walking all around, voices singing and talking fills the air. The colorful regalia creates rhythmic patterns that mesmerize me to this day. From a few moments of silence and stillness, I learned how respect creates a healing environment.

I ask you to recall the feeling you have when you are home, relax in your easy chair, in your den or living room. Recall how much you love home. Maybe you are home alone and liking it, or you can hear your family and the sound brings comfort. Remember how stillness created a gentle environment for you.

As you read this where are you? Is there hustle and bustle around you? Or are you tense from being in the commotion of an event? Take time to breathe, right now, and totally relax. Listen to your breath and slow down. Now, remember your stillness. Bring the gentleness and stillness of your memory of home to your body, now, wherever you are. Grounding is when you can possess the space you are in at this moment in a way of settled stillness within. This is your space, wherever you are, and you have the right to feel safe and to feel gentleness. Sustaining emotions like self-compassion, (in this moment I have inner peace, the kind I feel at home) creates an environment that others can feel and enjoy.

Sam created that for me. I saw his stillness. I watched his breath. Everyone was silent. When everyone became aware of respect, we honored the moment with speech, which led to laughter. But what I learned I learned from silence. In silence, we observe body gestures and facial expressions. We can see emotions rise and diffuse. The environment that we create within us is the energy that is interchangeable with others in a ceremony, in a community, and in private dialogues.

Staying grounded, internally still, my body as relaxed as I am at home is something I can bring to everyday situations. Do this exercise when you feel overwhelmed. Practice so we may share this healing energy in groups. Today I will create stillness so I can hear things that I have never heard before, so I can have memories that have long pathways from yesterday to tomorrow. So others can carry the peace and stillness forward.