January 23, 2015

What is Mindfulness

You could call it awareness, attention, focus or presence. Mindfulness has roots in Buddhist philosophy and religion which I find very interesting and fascinating. But it also takes on a new, secular definition when viewed from a Western psychology view finder.

Or as the famous Dr. Jon Kabat-zinn defines it, you can think of mindfulness as simply being fully in the moment, paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgemental.

Sound simple? It's not. Being engaged 100% doesn't come easy, especially in our world of distractions. It means actively listening and not zoning out (even a little) when your co-worker tells the same story for the third time, and it means using all your senses in even mundane situations like washing the dishes or waiting at the bus stop.

So what's the point? Well the benefits sound pretty amazing actually:

+ Mindfulness is good for our bodies: A seminal study found that, after just eight weeks of training, practising mindfulness meditation boosts our immune system’s ability to fight off illness.

+ Mindfulness is good for our minds: Several studies have found that mindfulness increases positive emotions while reducing negative emotions and stress. Several studies in fighting depression and preventing relapse.

+ Mindfulness changes our brains: Research has found that it increases density of gray matter in brain regions linked to learning, memory, emotion regulation, and empathy.

+ Mindfulness helps us focus: Studies suggest that mindfulness helps us tune out distractions and improves our memory and attention skills.

+ Mindfulness helps people with PTSD: Studies suggest it can reduce the symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in the aftermath of a traumatic happening.

Here are a few key components of practising mindfulness that Thich Nhat Hanh, Jon Kabat-Zinn and others identify:
  • Pay close attention to your breathing, especially when you’re feeling intense emotions.
  • Notice—really notice—what you’re sensing in a given moment, the sights, sounds, and smells that ordinarily slip by without reaching your conscious awareness.
  • Recognize that your thoughts and emotions are fleeting and do not define you, an insight that can free you from negative thought patterns.
  • Tune into your body’s physical sensations, from the water hitting your skin in the shower to the way your body rests in your office chair.
If you're interested in reading more you should definitely check out Thich Nhat Hanh and Jon Kabat-Zinn books written on Mindfulness.

I have decided to jump (with a heavy nervous heart)... but I'm going to be part of a Mindfulness training. It's organised by the psychology department in my hospital... so I will be familiar with the surroundings. But I'm very nervous about the whole thing. However I do think, this type of thing fits me and I could really benefit from it. I will start next week Wednesday.

So let's take a deep breath...

January 19, 2015

Like a rolling stone

A new year. New feels. New breathe. New chances. Same dreams, fresh starts. Out of my head and into the moment.

But then this happened and I think I sort of had a breakdown two weeks ago. Lets just say it involved a bathroom floor and lots of crying.

I finally realized I needed to cry out of for help again. Because I was taking 45 mg anti-depressants... but really what's the point when you're on the floor of a bathroom? So I called my psychiatrist and long story short; we're quitting the anti-depressants (this week 30 mg, next week 15 mg) and then we will meet again to talk about my other options. Let's face is, with the Tamoxifen/Zoladex there aren't that many options left. But I'm sure there's something I can try. Which means I can start all over again. New meds, new side effects, worrying if this is IT.

Despair. Frustrating.

So then I had a couple of pretty good days. I went to the hairdresser, got my first serious hair trim (well at least it felt like that) and I also let it dye. Which means new profile pic! So it looks pretty good, curly... and like the old Ciel. Except.. I am not.

But hey then I spent some time in my house. Have been restyling a bit, cleaning, etc. and it felt really good! So good I could dance (and perhaps I even did a little dance because no one was watching me).

It still drives me nuts that I can go from feeling pretty good at one point... and hit rock bottom like two minutes later. I know this is called recovery and I know partly it's the Tamoxifen/Zoladex. But still... it's pretty fucked up. It makes me feel like crap. But I know I have to work through all these feelings and emotions and when I'm ready I will release the ones that no longer serve me. Love, light, patience and kindness are the answer.

Perhaps a little mindfulness will help? I'm looking into this... if I go through with it more on that some other time.

So depression, what it feels like? Like I am drowning and everybody else around me is still breathing. Sometimes it feels like I carry this big rock around my neck, and it's so heavy. I get upset over EVERYTHING. Which is hard to understand for other people. My heart, my soul, they are in pain. Some serious pain. So I have been looking into a more spiritual way of healing.

Creating a sacred space. Be gentle with myself (really tough). Crystals and cleansing. Meditation. Becoming closer to nature. Chakra balancing. A photo a day challenge on Instagram. Today I had lunch by myself and treated myself to a big bowl of veggies and fresh mint tea. Well whatever keeps me going... It is a fascinating magical world after all.

P.S. Shut the fuck up about Blue Monday.