The In-Between: Mental Health Monday and Getting All Kinds of Quiet

It’s mental health Monday (says I,) and I’m gearing up to spend the week ahead going back to basics- that is, working on the things that we all so often neglect.  With the busyness of life, people forget that most suffering begins when we put our own care on hold, usually in favor of things that need to take precedence at the time: family, work, to-do lists, cooking, cleaning, whatever.  I am definitely guilty of that, and I’m one of the lucky people that actually has more time to focus on it.  I’m going to make the assumption that you are one of those people, too (because there’s a good chance you might be in denial,) and we’re going to do this together.  Don’t roll your eyes.  We’re doing it!  It’s time.  That means, it’s about to get self help-y up in heahhh.

One thing I struggle with is that nasty, cynical voice in my head that doesn’t let up.  It unforgivingly nitpicks, nags, belittles, and badgers all day long, and has done so for as long as I can remember.  If you’re someone that has a big beautiful silence up there, you’re either incredibly lucky, or a little on the blissfully ignorant side.  No judgement- just envy.  It’s not easy to manifest love and light when your own brain is constantly telling you what a mess you are.  And you can forget the healthy lifestyle part.  Food, drinks, and avoidance become your best friends.  Today, I was hit with a loud, startling wake up call and I realized I can no longer rely on those old habits to take away the voice.  There truly is only one way to deal with the voice head on- and that’s meditation.

I have tried so many different times to make meditation a part of my routine, and have had little success doing so.  When I do sit down to make it happen, I’m slammed with thoughts, wondering if I’m doing it right, wondering what that noise was, etc.  During a good meditation, I get very relaxed, and that makes me happy.  Then I take a nap.  Somehow I think that can’t be a part of quieting your mind, every time.  So what do I do?  Oh yeah, I yell at myself for “doing it wrong.”  Sounds ridiculous, but that’s the kind of practice I’ve gotten into.  The new plan is baby steps to letting go of that negative narration.  This week, I’ll be focused on only two things: making short meditations part of my daily routine, and letting go of judging the quality of those meditations.  Because we’re in this together, that’s your goal, too.  Let me know how you do.  Here’s a few things to get your started:

Practical Tips for Quieting the Mind (Zen Habits) – A must for beginners.  Again, sometimes easier said than done so don’t forget to go easy on yourself.

How to Establish a Daily Meditation Practice (Huffington Post) – Aim for once a day, if not twice- morning and night- when your internal dialogue is especially bitchy, like mine.

Believe in Yourself – Stop Negative Thoughts (Oprah) – As sad as it sounds, the negative thoughts do hamper our ability to believe in ourselves, another thing I’m guilty of.  Whether it’s believing that I can get a new recipe right, or believing that I can whittle myself back down to my pre-Michigan weight and fitness level (sorry Michigan, that’s what I call it,) it’s tough.  A little belief goes a long way..

What it Really Means to Take Care of Yourself (Tiny Buddha) – I love this woman’s story of discovering the difference between projecting that life is great, using words like “resilience” to mask pain and struggle, and actually doing the hard work to get back to a more healthful way of life.  It’s a good read.

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