This morning I had to get up in the dark. My husband had an appointment for surgery to change out his pacemaker. I do not like to get up in the dark. My husband has and expression for getting up in the dark. He says it is “0 dark 30.” I do not do early. I am attached to sunlight. In the summer I can get up early because the sun is up.
The days are growing shorter (not cooler here) and anything before seven is dark. I get up after seven. The joys of being retired.
When we lived in upstate New York I discovered that I was depressed during the winter and realized that I have SAD. Now I know that I am dependent on light for well being. Fortunately I live where the winters are not so long and I can manage the winter. However, it would be nice if we could get some cooler weather. The 90’s are getting old.
I know a number of people suffer with this problem and that it can make winters miserable. In the north I spent a lot of time in a glassed in sun porch that got lots of light during the day. I think this is what saved me.
It is difficult to look forward when the days are getting shorter if you have this problem. It makes it hard to enjoy some of the holidays that come up during this season. I hope that you can find ways to get the light you need whether from artificial lights or whatever you find that helps. It does help to get some sun when you can.
Is there something in your life that makes you feel good? Something that you like doing and it puts you in a calm place. There are several things that I do that calm my mind and my mind is peaceful. I do Mandalas. I started these after seeing the book by Judith Cornell on Mandalas for healing.
I am not artist but just creating something while in a meditative state gives me peace. I also use the book Praying in Color as a way to pray for others using drawing. Again, I am not an artist but the action is calming.
Writing is also calming for me (most of the time). Writing poetry allow me to vent my feelings in a constructive way. I also like to play the piano.
The point of all of this is that if you can find something that is calming for you and that you like doing, use it. If you, like me, tend to binge on TV to reduce stress and keep your mind from freaking out, try something like this instead. There is something about engaging your hands, eyes and mind all at once that soothes us.
Meditation can be a daunting idea. For most of us our minds are running full speed and we can even have difficulty turning them off to sleep. This is the most common complaint heard by physicians about insomnia….”I just couldn’t turn my mind off.”
We hear that meditation will calm us and release endorphins. We can listen to meditation tapes and find ourselves wandering from the voice’s instructions. Turning our minds off is a difficult task.
Our minds have been running like this for years. What makes us think that turning off the thoughts can be just a matter of sitting down and expecting it to happen. Just like anything else in life it is a skill that we have to learn. To learn it we have to practise*. I have friends who run marathons and they have to be consistent in their training. They can’t just go out and run without work.
The same thing is true of meditation. We have to retrain our mind. You can’t learn to shut thoughts off like snapping your fingers. It takes time, work and consistency.
When we start to learn this new skill we must have patience with ourselves. We try it and we can’t stop the mind and we think it is hogwash and a failure. It isn’t any more than trying to run a marathon by just deciding…”today I am going to run 26 miles.”
In the beginning the only thing that we may accomplish is just taking time to sit or lie quietly. This is not a bad thing in itself. It helps to just stop for a while. Paying attention to your breath and checking your body for tension is always good. The next step is to recognize the thoughts that are running through your mind. My first (and very best) yoga instructor told us to see that thought and mentally watch it slide across your mind and on out. Continue to do this with each thought that occurs. With practise* you will notice less thoughts intruding and by watching them go by you are not allowing them to really intrude.
Learn to take time for meditation. My yoga instructor said that when we are awake we are like a car in forward gear. When we are asleep we are in reverse. When we are in meditation we are in neutral. A good analogy.
Meditation is wonderful…learning it is a task worth putting time into.
*word press wants me to change practise to practice. Practise is the verb. Practice is a noun.
This struck me as being profound and encouraging. I heard it somewhere else and then found it. Sometimes when something comes to an end we feel a let down. Something is over. We don’t think ahead and see that something new is beginning. We may not know what it is or when it will begin but it is there. Each time we start something we are beginning at the end of something else. It is a sort of circular thinking.
In the past year I have struggled with where life was taking me. Something 20 years long and fruitful was ending and I couldn’t see the beginning of anything else. Now I realize that the ending was but the beginning of a new journey. One that would teach me much about myself and force me to spend time with me. Not something I really enjoy doing.
Now I am in a different place. I still have a journey ahead of me and a lot more to learn. I have turned loose of the desire to be “out front,” I had always needed this to counter my sense of unworthiness. Hubris still rises from time to time but I am learning to push it back down. Anxiety can still attack but I am better at fighting it. I don’t always win but learning takes time. I have learned much from hearing the stories of others.
Each day is a new beginning. It is the end of the old day. Change can happen.
I am tired. I have realized that the tiredness is coming from the emotional roller coaster I have been on lately. When we have done physical work or completed a project we can be tired but it is a satisfying tired. It feels good. This is not that. This tired is totally enervating. It has drained me to my core.
When we are truly empathetic we experience the feelings and aura of those around us. Recently the strain that my friends have been under and the energy I have expended has taken all the oomph out of me. However I hope we are now on the upswing and that things are getting better.
Tomorrow I will be able to work in the yard. Although this is tiring it is the good kind of tired. It will produce a sense of pleasure and satisfaction. I have complained about the yard work but you can actually see the progress and that is something.
Lately I have taken little time for myself and I will address that in the coming week. I would like to see some “normal” but you never know when you will have to adjust to a “new normal.”
Finding things that bring us peace and calm are so important. Reading help me and just sitting on the porch and enjoying the outdoors. Each of us needs to find what can help when things get overwhelming. Not caring for ourselves will bring on anxiety, panic and depression. Not something we want to do.
Today I decided to eat breakfast on the porch. It is frequently too hot but today is milder and there is a breeze. We live on a tidal marsh. We have an 8 ft tide change. When tide is low you can smell the marsh. Some people don’t like that smell but I love it. When I was a child and visited my aunt and uncle here that smell meant we were on the way to the beach… on the way to a fun day so that smell has wonderful memories for me. It is interesting that smell can stimulate such strong memories.
I love the play of light and shadow made by the giant oak trees that we have here. There are ferns that grow on the trees (along with Spanish moss). They are called resurrection ferns. When there is no rain they are brown and look totally dead. Then it will rain and behold they are beautiful and green. I love the name and the connection.
Today sitting on the deck I just reveled in the beauty of the day…how green everything is…the beautiful oaks..everything in God’s world. God is in the midst of it all. Creation continuing in the world.
I am blessed to be able to sit and absorb the beauty. I don’t do it enough. It soothes my soul and reduces anxious thoughts. It is part of my journey that I have committed to see the world around me each day and immerse myself in it.
Today I have rested in a bubble of calm. There were errands to run, food to buy etc….but these are “normal” things. For the last six months I have been living in abnormal and abnormal has not been fun. So many unanswered questions were hanging in the air and I don’t do well unknowing. Not I can see a path ahead …and yes I can obsess about it but it feels right.
Our lives don’t seem to maintain a “normal” for very long before we have to adjust to a “new normal.” For me this happens quite regularly. Change is one of the only constants. I seem to be able to manage some kinds of change but the ones that come with unanswered questions are the most difficult for me.
Again, it comes down to living each day as it comes. Trusting that things will somehow work out and just being grateful for the NOW. If we could only learn to live each day and immerse ourselves in it we would be able to live fully. I try but I don’t always succeed. Being grateful for what is true for us at the moment is part of the equation.
Madeleine L’Engle (one of my favorite writers) says that before she gets out of bed in the morning she signs the cross and says: “God be in my head, God be in my heart, God be at my left hand, God be at my right hand this day.” What a wonderful way to start the day.