I can proudly say that I am at the happiest point in my short life so far, which is making it easier to consider healthy lifestyle habits that I had previously snorted at and thought were a load of crap. Of course, there are still many things I cringe at and reject because in the age of the internet where everyone can share their life tips, there will always be ridiculous trends shared in places you didn’t realise existed or thought would be so popular.
*because I’m a cynical Nana in this 25 year old body. another post for another day I’m afraid!
That being said, now in my mental health journey I am reluctantly welcoming the loose practice of mindfulness into my life. Because sometimes my physical reactions to stress or anxiety are extremely delayed and try to kill me in the dead of the night when I am trying to sleep. No joke kids, they hit me with the power of a thousand suns in the form of left side of my chest, neck, shoulder and arm pains. Where emergency department doctors perform all necessary tests from 12am onwards and just shrug at me with a blank look on their face as they blame it on “Anxiety?”
The first time it happened I thought I was having a heart attack, so I did the responsible thing of going to the hospital where I received the enlightened diagnosis of causation of mental illness – sign this patient discharge form and leave because we don’t know what to do with your faulty human body. So when it happened again a few weeks ago I reluctantly called Nurse on Call just to get advice on drugs to lessen the pain – aspirin! yas highly recommend – which they gave but also insisted against my will to call an ambulance for me…that never arrived.
*slow clap for Ambulance Victoria!
My loving boyfriend sat up with me around midnight waiting for the ambulance for just over an hour until a lovely Nurse on Call woman called informing me of the delays, but asked if I was doing better since taking the aspirin – which did WONDERS, 10/10 would recommend – to which I replied yes Mam, and that I would like to cancel my ambulance reservation for the evening. To which she replied, Phew glad you’re not dead! Amiright?! Haha okay Hun, I’ll talk again to you soon no doubt, eat your greens, bye-bye.
*just kidding, she said please call us again if your pain increases and I can send you another delayed ambulance ASAADLD (as soon as the ambulance decides to leave the depot).
Which is why I am trying to align my physical and mental reactions to stress and anxiety with my present emotions daily with mindfulness and casual grounding meditations. It’s not as higher order thinking or as Gwyneth Paltrow Goopy as it sounds. It’s just the act of pausing my overactive and productivity obsessed mind so I don’t steamroll past all normal negative emotions throughout my humdrum daily routine, that can end up king hitting me in the blood pumping organ later on.
I don’t don an attire of white cotton clothing while I sit on my pristine yoga mat in my lounge room, as the melodic screeches of seagulls from the Footscray loading dock soundscape filters in through my balcony door. I stop what I am doing and sit on the nearest chair with my feet planted firmly on the floor and the palms of hands placed on my thighs, take deep breathes and focus on how I am physically feeling. I don’t need to shut my eyes to open my third eye, I just intentionally focus in on how each body part feels to the point where I mentally and physically become less tense and in turn clearer in thought.
When I did it last week with my therapist, I felt a suppressed thought wave it’s sweaty palm at me through the debris of my neurotic mind, which then answered a question we were trying to answer in our present session.
My therapist also recommended that I keep a watchful eye on my reoccurring chest pains, because she mentioned that sometimes medical practitioners blame many physical issues on mental illness that end up not being not related to mental illness at all. It’s difficult to monitor and diagnose something that randomly occurs, but maybe one day I’ll know why my heart has its bad days. Just like the way I am gaining a greater understanding of the nature of my mind, every year I cross off the figurative tally I keep in the figurative prison cell that it can feel like.
I still feel like the Grinch as he began to allow himself to love Christmas and the small peasants who lived at the bottom of his mountain, when it comes to applying habits of mindfulness to my life. But there have been sweet moments where I experience the benefits in a really peaceful way, that I am grateful to have paused for.
For example, I’m cat-sitting my friend’s cat at the moment who likes to play with some discarded wool I leave on my rug for her. I was getting ready for bed when she kept meowing at me to play with her, so I did because there are times when her cute face demands my full attention and I am o-k-a-y with this.
And as we were hanging out on my rug with my balcony door open, the rain started to fall.
So I just sat there listening to it and intentionally focused on enjoying the sound of rain as I rubbed this cat’s belly. Just like the aspirin, 10/10 would recommend.
I felt calmer getting ready for bed afterwards by allowing myself to feel more present in my happiness, instead of just brushing over it to focus on the next task at hand.
It’s taken a while to get to this happy place in my life, so as an act of love to myself I am going to try being mindful of every little frame of it.