Months ago, I started looking into mindfulness. I have experienced trauma in the past and had a LOT of trouble coming to terms with it. Ten years worth of trouble coming to terms with it. Because of this trauma, I developed anxiety and depression which I have been fighting a slow but winning battle against. Mindfulness, I feel, had made that slow battle kick up into a much faster pace. Mindfulness is a form of focused meditation. Every night before bed, I sit quietly, hugging my pillow to my chest, and start to focus on my breath. I don’t change it in any way, I don’t judge it, just watch it. Eventually my mind wanders and it’s OK, our minds are made for thinking, wondering is what they do. Instead of getting upset with the wondering and telling myself that I am wrong and bad at this and other nasty self thoughts, I see where my mind wondered to because it’s important and there’s a reason it went there, and gently bring my awareness back to my breathing. The key here is letting all this happen without judging yourself for it. Accepting it and releasing it before moving on. The second bit, is noticing where your thoughts are going, because after all, thoughts are important. They are the make up of the health of your brain and they should be paid attention to. There is a distinction however. Your thoughts make up what you are but your mind makes up who you are. The thoughts in your brain are just memories that you keep coming back to, the part that is paying attention to those thoughts is who you actually are. That is why you should never judge your thoughts, never judge your memories. Use your mind to redirect your thinking away from the ones you don’t want, and toward the ones you do want. Your mind is the captain that your brain has no choice but to follow. For me, this concept is filled with so much hope because it brings credence to the “be whoever you want to be” that we were always told as children. This concept tells you how it can be done.
After a few months of practicing the meditation, I began to see it bleed into other areas of my life. One such instance being about a month ago, I had a bad day and my darling husband came over to cuddle with me on the couch. I began to feel better before my subconscious rudely butted in and reminded me of the awful day I had. Good feelings gone. But I caught it. I was living at the moment and noticed the shift in my attention from the now to the day I had. Instead of being caught up in that emotional back slide, I brought my awareness to how good it felt to have the love of my life come and comfort me and eagerly welcomed back my good mood. The more I noticed these emotional shifts, the easier noticing them became. I became calmer, less reactive and an all around happier person.
My bouts of depression have not gone away completely, however they are less debilitating. I no longer call into work because of them and my house is becoming a much cleaner place to live. I still feel the emotional pit but it is no longer quick sand. I can pull myself out. My mental health is no longer a struggle because I now have the medicine I need and I require no prescription for it. I feel free.