Mindfulness Monday: community

“Returning hate for hate multiples hatred, adding deeper darkness to a night devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

Martin Luther King

“Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.”

Mother Theresa

“Embrace diversity, promote unity; create a loving and accepting community.”

Estee Levison

“In every community there is work to be done. In every nation there are wounds to heal. In every heart there is the power to do that.”

Marianne Williamson

Wendy usually posts three mindfulness quotes. Given the many events here in the US and in multiple places around our planet where war, imprisonment, starvation, fear and hate abound, I added one more.

These quotes, while not necessarily and strictly mindful in and of themselves, do speak to things we must remain mindful of: human worth, dignity and value; diversity; community; unity and forgiveness. Which leads to much-needed healing and the return of what, in some cases/places, has been lost: hope for the present, hope for the future.
Remember:

“So powerful is the light of unity that it can illuminate the whole Earth.”

Baha’i writings

Anger is one letter short of danger.”

Anon.

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Mindfulness Monday – Thich Nhat Hanh On Fear

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When I am in need of comfort, and have a desire for knowledge, I often turn to the teachings of Thich Nhat Hanh.  His words resonate with me and make me feel understood.  I hope you find his words as compelling as I do.  (Thich Nhat Hanh is often referred to as Thầy, meaning Teacher, throughout this post I will also refer to him as Thầy)

Below you will find quotes by Thích Nhất Hạnh, from his book Fear: Essential Wisdom for Getting Through the Storm. with comments by me on how these quotes reflect my life right now and help give me peace.

 

“The only way to ease our fear and be truly happy is to acknowledge our fear and look deeply at its source. Instead of trying to escape from our fear, we can invite it up to our awareness and look at it clearly and deeply.”
― Thích Nhất Hạnh

During the past week I have been having vertigo again, even though I’m feeling much better now, the fear of the possibility that things could get worse has been creeping up.  My first instinct is to run from this fear, or push it down and refuse its validity.   After reading this quote I realized how much I have been trying to escape from my fear, I now understand that I need to investigate it’s cause and think about it rationally.

“When we recognize that we have a habit of replaying old events and reacting to new events as if they were the old ones, we can begin to notice when that habit energy comes up. We can then gently remind ourselves that we have another choice. We can look at the moment as it is, a fresh moment, and leave the past for a time when we can look at it compassionately.”
― Thích Nhất Hạnh

Thầy really hit the nail on the head with this one.  For the sake of this post I will only talk about what has presently caused me to replay old events – a vertigo attack.  My automatic response to this attack was a flash back to my worst days experiencing vertigo.  The many days where I could do nothing but watch the world spin were suddenly replaying themselves in my mind.  It is refreshing to know that I have another choice.  I can take this attack as it is, a singular event, it is not part of my past  (well it is now…hopefully you get what I’m saying).  What happened this week was new, yes I’ve had thousands of vertigo attacks, but this was a different one, it was not one that I had already experienced, it was new.  It’s time to let the past go, to look at that time with compassion, especially for myself.

“We are very afraid of being powerless. But we have the power to look deeply at our fears, and then fear cannot control us.”
― Thích Nhất Hạnh

How liberating this quote is!  I often feel that everything in my life is out of my control, that I am powerless.  I lost so much of my independence and then got some back, the vertigo attack brought back all the times that I was so dependent on others for everything.  It’s that loss of control (power) that scares me.  Thầy teaches that we always have power over our fear, yes we will always feel fear, but if we look closely at our fears and really get to the root of it, we can then see that our fear does not control us, we control it.

 

I hope you enjoyed this variation on Mindfulness Monday, if it is well received I may do this type of post more often.  

*photo by W. Holcombe – night sky…yes it really is the moon..in Tucson.  Please do not use without permission.  All rights reserved.  ©

 

And The World Spins Madly On

Early yesterday the barometric pressure took a nosedive and my head went with it.   My head started to throb and the light was excruciating; I took meds and carried on…or I tried to.  I realized I wasn’t up to grocery shopping or cooking to I looked in the pantry and threw a few things in the slow cooker for soup.  Then it was a sit in the chair and knit kind of day, and I was okay with that.

After Stuart got home we had soup…I’m so thrilled with how well that soup turned out, btw.   I left the room to go to the bathroom and I felt it hit….the bottom dropped out of my stomach, I got all hot, and my view began to spin….vertigo.  I leaned, for support, with my forehead and palms resting flat on the wall before me, knowing if I moved I would fall down, I called out for Stuart.   He came and helped me to the bathroom and back to my chair.  The worst had not arrived…

As we got ready for bed I took my nightly meds and started to settle down when I started to feel bad, really bad.  I mentioned to Stuart that my meds were kicking in really fast and I was feeling loopy.  (this does not happen, normally I take my meds and I start feeling sleepy, I read some and then go to sleep, I never feel “loopy” from my night meds)  I decided to just lie still and try to sleep, then I suddenly got hot all over and my stomach wanted to rebel! I laid very still trying hard not to move my head, but it didn’t work, the room began to spin and I felt like I was moving….vertigo…again…damnit!

I tried so hard not to disturb Stuart.  He has to get up really early to go to work and I hate when I have to disrupt his sleep.  He stirred a few times and I admitted I was sick but told him to go back to sleep.  I knew I could handle it, at least I told myself that.  I did sleep some, on and off, all the while feeling like I was moving.  Every slight movement of my head caused the room to spin faster, and my stomach to lurch.  I was not doing well, but I was dealing with it.  I survived the night, and I didn’t vomit, that is a miracle.

Today, I still have this feeling of motion and if I turn my head quickly the room spins, but for the most part it settled down.  Now it’s all the other symptoms that go with vertigo that are still getting to me.  The gastro-intestinal upset, the extreme fatigue, the anxiety, and, of course, my balance is completely compromised.  It’s been a challenging day.

As I sit here writing this I’m reflecting on this illness of mine and how it has manifested itself over the years.  It came on sporadically, having severe vertigo attacks once or twice a year without any other major symptoms, then it turned into me having vertigo multiple times a day, sometimes minor, sometimes very severe, I was basically bed bound for almost 3 years.  Then less than 2 years ago I started having less and less vertigo and the attacks I had were not nearly as severe as they used to be, I have been so much better that I started to drive again.  I even bought a car a couple of weeks ago.  Now, I’m being reminded that this will always be with me.  I will never escape Meniere’s disease, and I’m scared.

The fear escalated through the night and all day today.  My thoughts keep running to the “what if”s.  What if this is a new stage and it’s worse?  What if I can’t drive and I just bought a car?  What if I need more help than is available now?  What if?????

Can you see me spiraling out of control?

Time for a reality break.  Yes, I have Meniere’s and I always will.  Yes, it is unpredictable.  Yes, it could get worse, or it could get better.  Nothing is certain.  Life is not as I expected, so I will change those expectations, or better yet, I won’t have any.  Now, it’s time for a deep breath and a good night’s sleep.  Tomorrow is a different day.

Mindfulness Mondays: worry

“Do not lose yourself in the past. Do not lose yourself in the future. Do not get caught in your anger, worries or fears.Come back to the present moment, and touch life deeply. This is mindfulness.”

Thich Njat Hanh

“The day you stop worrying will be the first day of your new life; anxiety takes you in circles, trust in yourself and become free.”

Leon Brown

“Don’t believe every worried thought you have. Worried thoughts are notoriously inaccurate.”

Renee Jain

As Wendy indicated, I will drop by from time to time to do the Mindfulness Monday post.

Finding mindfulness quotes concerning worry was an excellent therapeutic exercise.

As an added bonus because I really like the idea:

Worry is a misuse of your imagination.”

Curiano

Image: © Lorraine (Please do not use without permission)

Mindfulness Monday – Self

“The most powerful

relationship you will

ever have is the

relationship with yourself.”

~Steve Maraboli

 

“To be beautiful means

to be yourself.

You don’t need

to be accepted by others.

You need to accept

yourself.”

~Thich Nhat Hanh

 

“Be the silent watcher

of your thoughts and behavior.

You are beneath the thinker.

You are stillness beneath

the mental noise.

You are the love and

joy beneath the pain.”

~Eckhart Tolle

 

I’m thrilled to announce that Lorraine has agreed be a regular contributor to Mindfulness Monday. She has been so amazing filling in for me on the many days when I just didn’t feel like I could look at the computer; and, I think you’ll all agree, she has done an awesome job. I hope you will welcome her and continue to enjoy the quotes and photos she shares with us.

Don’t worry, I’m not giving up my blog, or Mindfulness Monday. It is my hope that I will be able to focus on more in depth posts again, and I will still contribute to Mindfulness Monday as I increase my mindfulness practice.

*self portrait by W. Holcombe. My many faces of self.

Mindfulness Monday: depression

“For me mindfulness is like building a house,

so, the next time the tsunami

that depression is comes,

I’ll have a structure to resist it.”

Ruby Wax

 

“Regardless of how dark and downbeat

the places you may find yourself,

there always exists the potential

for another path.”

Richard Gilpin

 

“You don’t have to control

your thoughts.

You just have to let them

stop controlling you.”

David Millman

 

 

 Image: © Lorraine (filling in for Wendy; using the theme she had chosen)

I don’t mean to….(fighting depression)

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I don’t mean to stay away.

I don’t mean to make you worry.

I walk around in a daze lately, and can’t see through the fog.

I feel like I’m lost in the dark and the only lights I see are from the flames of hell.

I can’t tell  you why.

There is no real reason.

Sometimes I feel like I’m a pawn in someone else’s game.  I can see two demons hunched over a game board, we are the pieces they move.  We have no control over how the game is played; we can only hope they play fairly, but we all know that demons never play fair.

How can I feel so level headed and focused at one point and so out of control and totally depressed at the next.  What changed?

Sometimes the answer is “nothing”.  Other times, the answer is more complicated, but the thing is, it’s really not about what has happened on the outside, it’s all about what’s going on on the inside.

Right now I could actually write a huge list of things that have changed in my life, but none of them explain the extreme changes in my emotional state.

I’m not “letting things get to me”, nor am I “too sensitive”.  I’m falling apart from the inside out, and it has nothing to do with anything I am doing to myself.

Damn! Does that sound as stupid to any of you as it does to me?

I get so pissed off when someone tells me that they wish I didn’t let things get to me so much, or that they wish I wasn’t so sensitive….yeah well…yadayadayada.  I guess, it is all on me, isn’t it?  But then again…is it?  If it were up to me I sure wouldn’t allow things to “get to me”, and I wouldn’t be overly “sensitive”.  Heck, if it were up to me I’d be pretty friggin’ stoic sometimes, but I’m not, I simply can’t be like that.  I feel things, very deeply sometimes, I actually envy people who can “bury it” or “put walls up”, I can’t do that.  I’ve tried, oh how I’ve tried.  I really do envy those people…..sometimes…like now…not always.

Lately, all I want to do is eat, sleep, and cry.   In reality I’m not sleeping enough, but I’m spending a lot of time trying to; I’m eating too much, the weight gain proves it, and I’m either crying or pissed most of the time!  But I’m trying really, really hard not to be like that.  Heck, I don’t even know why I’m crying, and I sure can’t tell you what I’m so mad about.  Here’s the kicker, something will happen that doesn’t bother me at all and then the exact same thing can happen again and suddenly I’m so pissed I can’t think straight, or I’m crying so hard I can’t see.  What changed there?  So…is that all on me?  or is it out of my control?   More importantly, is this something that is just happening because of outside circumstances and will blow over, or does my medication need to be adjusted?  Honestly, I have no clue.  (I think it’s probably the later, or maybe a little bit of both?

Even with all I know about mental illness, (from my experiences with bipolar disorder, anxiety, and depression) I still feel like it’s my fault.  I never feel like that about another person’s battles with mental illness, why do I hold myself to a different standard?  Is it simply because I’m often told, “I wish you didn’t let things get to you so much”, or is it because I think this is a part of me that I should be able to control.  I don’t have a lot in my life that I feel I have control over, surely I can control how I react to things.  Isn’t that what I’ve been practicing mindfulness for?  Simply accepting the way things are and not wishing it to be different.  Well honey, I do wish it were different right now, but I am trying hard to accept that it just is the way it is, and I know for certain that things will change.  Nothing stays the same, everything changes, I can always take solace in this, unless I’m deep in depression, then I think, “Yes, things change, it could get so much worse!”  Aaahhhh….No!  I can’t get caught in the future trap!  You know that trap, the one in your mind that predicts a future…good or bad, watch out! it’s a trap!  Chances are that the future you prophesied will not turn out the way your mind told you it would; staying in the present is the only way to really deal with life’s challenges, it’s it?  I KNOW these things.  Why then, is it so very hard?

I will try to take it moment by moment and be kind to myself.

I’ll try not to stay away.

I don’t want you to worry.

 

one moment at a time, I’ll get through this

 

*photo taken at Tumacacori National Park by W. Holcombe.  Please do not use without permission.  All rights reserved.

Mindfulness Monday: perception


“Piglet noticed that even thought he had a small heart,

it could hold a rather large amount of gratitude.”

A. A. Milne

“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.”

Dr. Seuss

“The moment one gives close attention to anything,

even a blade of grass it becomes a mysterious, awesome,

indescribably magnificent world in itself.”

Henry Miller

Image: Lorraine 2018 (filling in for Wendy)

 

Mindfulness Monday – Garden

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“Gardening is an active

participation in the

deepest mysteries of

the universe.”

~ Thomas Berry

“Look deep into nature

and then you will

understand everything better.”

~ Albert Einstein

“Gardening simply does not allow

one to be mentally old, because

too many hopes and dreams

are yet to be realized.”

~Allan Armitage

 

 

*Photo taken at Tucson Botanical Garden, Tucson AZ, by W. Holcombe, all rights reserved.  Please do not use without permission.

 

Mindfulness Monday: “Finding Your Self”

“All the suffering, stress, and addiction comes from

not realizing you already are what you are looking for.”

Jon Kabat-Zinn

 

“Healing may not be so much about getting better,

as about letting go of everything that isn’t you –

all of the expectations, all of the beliefs –

and becoming who you are.”

Rachel Naomi Remen

 

“You wait a lifetime to met Someone

who understands you, accepts you as you are.

At the end, you find that the Someone,

all along, has been you.”

Richard Bach

 

image: © Lorraine; close up of installation “Birds Watching”, Jenny Kendler, from “Indicators: Artists on Climate Change,” Storm King Arts Centre, NY.

Wendy is fine; her recovery from surgery continues. She will soon be back to doing her Mindfulness Mondays.