Mindfulness Life


Breath
Shallow stream fast moving
Energizes the senses
Slow the breath of life.
 

We don’t pay enough attention to life.  Our days are filled with activities.  Work, families, meals, chores; even our entertainment often required organization and has a sense of urgency.   How often do we slow down enough to just notice?  Do we experience life or rush to the next activity?

In my early days of concussion recovery, my days blurred together.  Life had a surreal quality.  Often, I attended appointments or did a chore by rote, with little awareness of what I was doing.  I was there but not present.   I have a friend who attended the majority of my earlier medical appointments.  My mind was not processing well.  Frequently, she could describe my difficulities better than I could!  I wasn’t even aware of some of my limitations!  Gradually, my conciousness has returned.  I am more present in my life.   I still get overwhelmed at times and disengage from my senses.  Usually, this occurs when there’s too much sensory input or when overwhelmed with information.   How well rested I am impacts my ability to manage crowds and anxiety.  If I am tired, I am more likely to experience “brain drain” or shut down. 

How often do we go through the day by rote?  In my field, I don’t have that option often.   My clients would notice if I checked out in session.  However, outside of the therapy room: there are times I would complete a chore or even a run and have no memory of the experience.   What did I miss?  (prior to concussion).

Mindfulness is presence in life.  One concept I find helpful in my concussion recovery is Acceptance.    This is a challenge to embrace.  Acceptance is non-judgementally acknowledging what is.  Not what you wish it was.    In order to be free to change (or even live), you have to recognize and accept what is.    The non-judgemental part is the hard one.   My injury sucks.  There’s no getting around that.  This isn’t non-judgemental.   I am not sure how to get to the non-judgemental acceptance.   However, I have realized that good has come from the experience:  deeper connection to friends, the ability to accept help from others more,  and a deeper humility.  There’s nothing like having a panic attack at WalMart to realize I am a human being.  With all that implies.  I accept my current limitations for what they are now.  I also work on developing ways to manage them and work on relearning skills.  Sometimes, it’s a matter of waiting until connections in my brain have been made: waiting for healing.   Patience: another lesson in progress.   I want patience: now!    Change is part of acceptance.    Acceptance is part of change.

There is a purpose for our experiences in the physical world.   We learn and hopefully grow.  I have a deeper appreciation for the fact there is a Guiding Force, a Deity, who cares for us.  We may not always understand why or how.  Why do bad things happen to good people and good things to bad people?   Many world religions struggle to explain.  One theory is karma: we get back what we put out.  There is some truth to this concept.  If we are nasty to other people, for example, people are more likely to be nasty to us.  If we steal, we are more likely to go to jail.  If we focus on negative thoughts and energies, we get more negatives back.  However, I don’t think this fully explains why.  Nor does the theory of learning, growth, or punishment explain.  Behavioral theory explains that the punishment has to be correlated to the action in order for learning to happen.  Example: touch a hot stove, get burned.   Most people don’;t repeat deliberately touching a hot stove.  But, if the punishment happens long after the action, it’s not effective.  If it’s totally random, it can be counterproductive.  For example, if a tornado was sent as punishment, who was it punishing and why?  And what about the innocent bystanders?   No, bad things aren’t necessarily punishment.   

I think it has to do with free choice.  We are given the ability to choose.  Actions always have consequences: expected and unexpected; positive and negative.   For example, I chose to drive home on the interstate (action).    Unexpeceted and “negative” consequence: the accident.  Other factors (weather and car) played in.    The accident was choice (driving) interacting with random factors.    People choose evil; they choose to act in ways that bring harm, sadness, anger, etc.  And people choose good: acting in ways that bring healing, hope, joy, etc. 

We don’t have control over what happens.  We  have choice in how we respond.  I could choose anger.  I could choose to stay at home and isolate to avoid symptoms.  Instead, I choose to accept what my limitations are currently while working toward healing.  And waiting for healing.  It’s both.   Of course, I still have times of anger, depression, anxiety.   Some of these times are a result of the physical trauma and are part of the process.  I have almost no control over the anxiety triggered by overstimulation; except to avoid becoming overstimulated.   

Faith has different meaning to people.   To me, faith is belief in Deity and that life continues after death.  Deity created and is creating.   Deity is both life and death; renewal and rot.   We think of death as negative.  It is a rebirth into another existence.   I believe Deity is Present in all things living.  Life should be honored.   In order to live, we have to bring death.  To eat, we kill an animal and/or plants.  That is part of the life cycle.  We should honor the sacrifice of that life by being thankful; use what we take and take responsibly.

Returning to mindfulness.  Experience life more fully.  Be mindfully present in your life. 

Start with breath aware
Feel it in your full body
Breathe in life deeply
 

Lake Reflection

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