Self-care Saturday: Shine Bright

It's been a rough few days for me; I haven't been able to sleep at night, my mind is constantly racing with thoughts, I've been worrying about every little thing that comes to mind and my anxiety is getting the best of me.  When I wake up in the morning, I scan my body and my heart, my chest is always aching and I find it really difficult to breathe.  I'm officially overwhelmed by my emotions.  Aside from the COVID-19 outbreak which forces us to stay at home for the betterment of humanity, I am in the process of moving to another state.  This wasn't an overnight decision; the planning took months and when it finally came down to execution, the pandemic happened.  I don't want to get too much into details but I feel as if I'm being pulled in several directions with selling my house, figuring out how to get rid of my car and finding a loving home for my dog. 

In February 2019, I was diagnosed with severe depression.  According to statistics, 247 million people suffer from depression worldwide.  Depression doesn't discriminate; anyone of any age can suffer.  Only at age 31, I had realized and accepted I was suffering from the common mental illness.  My earliest memory of being in a state of depression was around 10-11 years old in which I cried all summer until school reopened.  Around 15-16 years old, when I first started dating was another memory but the bulk of denial was around my 20s; I was in several social circles, was drinking and partying all the time and blowing my money on materialistic things to fill in a void.  I was struggling to find an identity and when I did, I was fighting to get rid of people's past perceptions of me and emerging as my truest self.  I didn't get help right away when I was told I was suffering from depression.  I knew I was suffering and I knew what were the root causes of my suffering but I needed to understand why I was putting myself through misery.  

In April 2019, I had decided to see a therapist.  Although the sessions with my therapist were shortlived because I believed I had the power to heal myself; I embarked on a journey to improve my mental health by focusing on self-care.  I turned to my spirituality for guidance.  In 2015, I filed for divorce and it dragged on to an on-going court battle for two years.  In 2017, when the papers were signed and finalized, I left home and set off on an Eat-Pray-Love inspired sojourn for an entire year.  I traveled to different parts of southeast Asia and even lived in a tent in Nepal for three months in a remote community near the base camp of Everest.  I had an interest in Buddhism and on my own time, would self teach and practice.  Since I was in the country where Buddhism emerged and flourished, I had decided to take advantage of this opportunity to immerse myself in the practice.  I visited several temples, even stayed in some, experienced the daily schedule of monks, adopted their diet, practiced noble silence, read texts and published books of the Buddhist practice, etc.  I decided to convert to Buddhism in the Spring of 2017.  

Buddhism helped me with being mindful, to be more conscious and taught me the more complex explanation of karma than what is generally known.  Buddhism also helped me improve with my meditation.  During yoga teaching training, we started each morning with meditation.  To be very honest, I caught myself falling asleep at times.  What?  Yoga teachers fall asleep during meditation?  Sometimes.  And in my case, I was inexperienced.  After yoga teacher training, was when I channeled my inner Elizabeth Gilbert and set off on my self-discovery pilgrimage.  Only then, did I find out how much I really enjoyed meditation but not as much as teaching guided meditation.  I had some students cry, some share their stories with me after a session, some having questions of how to enhance their spirituality.  The only answer I can give them was to focus on themselves and the rest will follow. What seems like a very vague answer, is actually quite simple.  No one knows you better than yourself (even if your mom or best friend claim they do, they really don't but they can get close to it) and you're the only person who knows what you want, don't want, your boundaries and limitations, your tolerance, your strengths, and your willpower to go far and wide.  

I'm not 100% cured of depression.  Sometimes it fluctuates from mild to moderate to severe.  At times I can't control my emotions and they get the best of me.  Yesterday, I cried several times and it made me feel better to let it all out.  But our problems shouldn't ruin or day, ruin our lives, our relationships with others and most importantly, it shouldn't ruin us.  

At times, I feel like a hypocrite.  A yoga instructor who preaches about the importance of self-care and wellbeing teaches yoga and guided meditation and advocates to promote peace, love, and harmony suffers from depression?  Yes. Every day is a damn battle for me.  Every day I have to tell myself affirmations: 'I am enough', 'You are loved', 'You can make a difference', 'You have every right to be here', etc.  I can't conquer this battle alone; I have my friends, my family, my loved one, helping me each and every day.  The least I can do is also help others. 

From the book, The Witch's Book of Self-Care by Arin Murphy-Hiscock, I found this ritual to be very empowering and I hope it helps you:

Fill Yourself with Light Meditation

  1. Center and ground yourself to your mat, towel or blanket in a seated comfortable position
  2. Close your eyes and begin to take three slow breaths.  With each inhale, imagine yourself receiving light through your nose or mouth.  With each inhale, imagine your body filling with light.  After your third exhale, go back to your normal breath.  Notice the sensation your body is feeling.  Notice how you feel emotionally and physically.
  3. Allow the light to begin to expand.  It pasts your body and fills your aura.  As it passes into the aura, imagine it beginning to sparkle.  Imagine sparkles dissolving and releasing any negativity or unwanted energy clinging to your aura.
  4. Take a final breath, exhale with conviction.  Allow the visualization to fade and open your eyes.

Filling yourself with light gives you the mental break you need to reset.  It's also a quick cleanse of the energy that surrounds you.  

To end this article, the app, the Pattern updated me with the most fitting daily astrological guidance this morning:

"Your destiny is to experience life deeply and intensely - but only on your own terms."

 

Today, I will live by my rules, do things on my own time because I trust myself to do what's right for me.  

Forever Namaste, L+M+A

Sources:

https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/depression

https://www.elizabethgilbert.com/books/eat-pray-love/   

Please practice safely + responsibly. Be mindful of your surroundings.  Do not harm yourself + other living + non-living beings. Be kind to Mother Earth as she safeguards our items after use. Most of all, believe in yourself + have faith that your energy will manifest what you truly desire.  

1 comment

  • Dear Joan,

    Thank you for sharing your struggles with depression, it can be very difficult to share with others when suffering from a mental illness. I know this all too well.

    And thank you for sharing some techniques for how to cope with the everyday struggle! I too use positive affirmations and they really do help. I never tried breathing in “light” which is a really neat concept to cleanse your energy as you mentioned above.

    What I actually do is whatever I am feeling for the day, I imagine a specific color, so on some days when I breathe in I imagine a light green color air going into my body and then when I excel it is a darker green. Or vice versa. Another favorite color of mind is light pink and dark pink which I imagine going in and out of my body. Sometimes I like to imagine that I am a dragon spirit breathing in and out this colorful fire. ;-)

    Anyway, I’ll try to keep it short. I wish you the best on your journey to moving to another state! Please be safe during this crazy time. <3 xoxo Bern

    Bern

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