Three Goals

I went to the creative writing course at the VA today.  It’s not exactly a journaling. We have a topic we write about.  Some are more therapeutic topics than others.  Today’s topic was “three goals.”

Goals 

I have no goals; none at all

Look inside to find the call.

When there is no focused life

Heart and soul are filled with strife

Finding hope in darkness lost 

Breaking free from chains’ high cost;

Maybe I will a path find

From fear’s chasm to faith sublime.

To grow my goal is to try

To revive what inside died

To hold to the future fast

To leave behind what has passed.

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Goals come in all forms.  Mine are getting prepared to identity and strive after goals.  It’s funny: my goal is to have a goal.  

Quote of the Day- December 16, 2016

“When we meet real tragedy in life, we can react in two ways – either by losing hope and falling into self-destructive habits, or by using the challenge to find our inner strength.” Dalai Lama 

It is so easy to lose inner strength and be  crushed by hopelessness.  I’m there right now.  I don’t see a meaningful life right now.  Yet, living though this requires inner strength.  There are days all I want to do is give up.  I spend hours, even days, wondering about ways to commit suicide that will be fatal- not just an attempt.  It’s been worse since November.  

For me, a self destructive habit is isolating and withdrawing from people and activities.  Discipline leads me to take to the road-or treadmill- to run.  The focus on breath, concentration on form, and losing myself in the passing miles is relaxing.  My feet striking the ground roots me to the present moment.  I am present in a manner I no longer have off the road.  I am connected to myself and my spiritual senses.  Running is still a solitary activity.  Recently, I connected to a friend I used to work with.  We run together a couple times a week.  We don’t talk about serious things but I am drawn out of my silence and the jangle of my own thoughts and attempts to make sense out of the unexplainable and unchangeable. 

 I have been experiencing more serious depression for about a month.  I spent several hours before Tai Chi yesterday  sitting in my friend’s office.  Being alone was not a safe thing for me at that moment.  Funny thing, a serious conversation ensued.  Inner strength manifesting in reaching out to someone.


Tai Chi is another acitivity that helps me find a sense of peace and grounding.  Movement, breath, concentration on form and poses- it’s easier to focus on something positive during class and be in the moment mindfully. I’m also around other veterans.  We may not talk much but there is a  connection.  

I do yoga at home. While it is a solitary activity it is another one that I find a sense of peace.  Breathing, form, focus, exercise.  My mind stills for that time. To a lesser degree, I find relief in strength training as well.

I wish I could be physically active 24/7/365.  

Physical activity is what helps me through the harder times.

Maybe one day I’ll find inner strength, my balance,  and peace without needing the acitivity at the same time. 

Tai Chi

Yesterday in Tai Chi there was a short discussion about yin and yang.  In short, it is the concept of opposite or contrary forces may be complimentary, interconnected, or interdependent force in nature.  For example: light and dark.  Without one the other wouldn’t exist.  Yet, they flow into each other.  

The discussion focused more on emotions and identity.  There are no fully good or bad  prople.  Our actions can be good or bad. Good acts don’t make us “good.”  Bad acts don’t make us “bad.”  They’re acts, not identity.  With anger, are we truly angry at another person or something within ourselves?  I’m still trying to wrap my mind around the concept.  Regarding emotions, we can’t know love without hate, happiness without sadness.  They are interconnected.  

I understand the emotions.  It’s a frame of reference.  Emotions are not permanent; they ebb and flow.  Notice them and let them go. It’s identity that bothers me.  There are people who lack conscience.  They are purely evil.  They’re called sociopaths.  

How do sociopaths fit in with balance?  They are out of balance with themselves.  They also pull other people into the cesspool with them.  Many of those people are innocent bystanders: family, coworkers, voters, strangers.  They betray trust.  They hurt people and don’t give a shit.  Anything they do that is “good” is done with an agenda.  Or a sense of ownership: “my” family; “my” employees.   I suppose their evil is counterbalanced by people who, while not perfect, bring peace, healing, balance, love.  

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The philosophy of t’ai chi ch’uan is that, if one uses hardness to resist violent force, then both sides are certainly to be injured at least to some degree. Such injury, according to t’ai chi ch’uan, is a natural consequence of meeting brute force with brute force. Instead, students are taught not to directly fight or resist an incoming force, but to meet it in softness and follow its motion while remaining in physical contact until the incoming force of attack exhausts itself or can be safely redirected, meeting yang with yin. When done correctly, this yin/yang or yang/yin balance in combat, or in a broader philosophical sense, is a primary goal of t’ai chi ch’uan training. Lao Tzu provided the archetype for this in the Tao Te Ching when he wrote, “The soft and the pliable will defeat the hard and strong.”

Traditional schools also emphasize that one is expected to show wude (“martial virtue/heroism”), to protect the defenseless, and show mercy to one’s opponents.[6]
Source

Balance.

The first sentence nails it, “…if one uses hardness to resist violent force, then both sides are certainly to be injured at least to some degree.”  In either physical confrontation, relationships, or emotions, the more “violent” the resistance the more one, or everyone involved, get hurt. 

Is the answer gentleness no matter what the “force?”  Moving with the dance instead of away when dealing with people who will hurt you?  What would that look like?  

“Soft, gentle, and pliable.”  Being pliable is adaptation; flexibility in vision and response.  Gentleness is compassion, respect, empathy in action.   What is “soft?”  It’s a concept with negative connotations: soft is “weak.”  Yet if I fall on a stack of soft pillows I won’t get hurt.  If I fall on a hard sidewalk, I’ll most likely walk away with some injury.  

I have no idea what I’m talking about when it comes to Tai Chi and yin and yang.  I’m at the start of learning.  Yet, in the mind of the beginner can sometimes be found wisdom.  Even if it’s just more questions to ponder.  Or a start of a dialogue of ideas.  We all learn from each other.

What are your thoughts?  

Blank page

I haven’t been blogging much.  There’s been nothing I could write about that mattered to me.  I know that sounds depressed.  It isn’t.  I just couldn’t come up with a topic that drew me.  

I’ve sat in front of my computer, staring at the white screen, waiting for something to surface.  

Life is like that.  We often stare at a blank screen waiting for some motivation or answer. At the same time, we are hesitant to begin.  What if we try and still have a blank screen- or gibberish?  

I’m not staring at a blank page right now.  It’s short.  It may not be my best writing. But,it’s not a blank screen.

Just start.

More on Reducing Anxiety

There are many websites with suggestions on how to reduce or control anxiety. These are things that I found helpful.   I’ll start with methods we can use at home with, or without, medical intervention.

  1. Accept anxiety as a part of life for now.  That doesn’t mean it’s pleasant or that we quit trying to treat, reduce, or “cure” our anxiety.  When I’m closer to accepting that I have Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), the challenge of being anxious about being anxious is much less.  The trick is not being anxious about trying not to be anxious about being anxious.  Confusion in the last sentence intended.  Anxiety is confusing.  Seriously, though.  This is difficult.   When you find that worry coming back, understand it’s part of the process.  
  2. Mindfulness.  I find this form of meditation helpful.  In mindfulness, we stay aware of our current thoughts, emotions, body awareness,  and surroundings. We stay in the moment.   For example, as I write this I’m feeling anxious.  I worry that I sound stupid or people will judge me.  Since I’m aware of this, I can take a few breaths, realize it really doesn’t matter what people think, and keep writing.  This lowers my anxiety level.  This shows another concept,”non-judgemental stance.”  I’m not judging myself for being anxious or what I was thinking.  A few ways of practicing staying in the moment are: eat an orange. Pay attention to how the peel feels and smells and the squirt of juice.  Feel the texture of the inside of the orange- smell it, taste it.  Slow down.  Another way is to wash dishes. Feel and smell the soap.  How does the water feel?  How do the plates feel?   I watched the sunset mindfully yesterday.  I noticed the color, the clouds, the breeze.  I appreciated it without the mind chatter. There are many resources on the internet to learn more and smart phone applications to help you practice.       
  3. Exercise. I do both cardio and some resistance training.  I love running.  Not everyone does.  Find what you enjoy and set time aside to do it.  Cardio is great because it makes you control your breathing.  When anxious we tend to breath shallow and fast.  Cardio makes you breath deeper and actually can slow your breathing.  The trick there is to keep the pace slow enough that you can talk in full sentences.  
  4. Diet: eat regular meals.  Reduce sugar and caffeine.  Most people don’t want to give them up.  Eat them in moderation.  Eat protein, fruits, carbohydrates, and vegetables.  If you can, work with a nutritionist.  There are resources on the internet.  Make sure whatever you use comes from a professional source.  Fad diets are not going to be helpful.
  5. Get enough sleep.
  6. Do something you enjoy
  7. Coloring: i found mandalas   helpful.  It keeps me focused on something besides worrying.  You don’t have to buy the books. The internet has free ones you can download.

Resources:

Mindfulness websites:  Body scanMindfulness for AnxietyWhat is Mindfulness

Applications: Insight Timer ,  Be Present, ZMeditations, Meditation

Mandalas  websites: Mandala coloring , Coloring pages