Reaching for Stability Inside

20170112_152640
The sign at my new favorite coffee shop

 

In Boise I was surrounded by people who were more introspective than myself. I loved listening to them talk about their beliefs, convictions, rituals and practices. I grew up in the church. I believe in God with all of my being but I don’t practice my beliefs that much. I mean I pray. In the evenings I thank God for my loving husband, family, and friends. I then talk to him about what’s going on with me, like I would a friend. That is as far as I have gone in the past twenty years.

I am a Christian but I have been disillusioned with Christians lately and I think that has made me resistant to the rituals surrounding my faith, like going to church and listening to preaching. It’s been absent in my life for a long time. I think that I have been missing it without realizing how much.

Lately I have adopted some new spiritual practices that I have been finding comfort in and I believe have strengthened my belief in a loving God. I am protecting those parts of myself that I had given away to other goals. I have realized a need to pray deeper and to experience more calm and stability that a spiritual practice can provide. The interesting part is that most of the ways I am practicing, while also give glory to God, don’t come from the church or the bible. These are things anyone can do, and they could possibly help anyone feel more stable and grounded in these tenuous times.

I first learned about mindfulness from the book “Living Buddha, Living Christ” by Thich Nhat Hanh. The book was an interesting read because there are so many similarities between the Christian belief and Buddhism.  I recommend it to anyone because it is a good read and not too touchy feely. It is interesting. Of course, the western world is embracing mindfulness by the droves now. I have been submersing myself in it while doing yoga and meditating. I have been listening to my breath and trying not to think of anything else for at least thirty minutes a day. I have never been one to be mindful before. I am known for doing several things at once. I enjoy multitasking for the most part because my mind moves that fast naturally. I didn’t say it thought great things, just that I think fast. It is my gift. However, even cheetahs rest sometimes.

There are so many articles on the health benefits of meditation that I won’t talk about them here; They claim everything short of growing a new brain. I can only tell you what it does for me. It helps me to slow my body down. The connection between my body and my emotions is strong. So if I can calm my breath down. It moves throughout my body. Taking deep breaths involves using all of my thoughts and it really does translate to all my limbs. Seriously, try it for like three minutes. I know that I didn’t believe it, but it really does calm me down.

It also calms my mind because I focus on just my breath, and ignore everything else. If a new thought comes I just ignore it. I don’t think of nothing because that would drive me crazy. I haven’t gotten that good yet. I have just been concentrating on my breath, and this thing they talk about where you breathe through your limbs. I know, it sounds hanky right? It really works though. You take an inbreath and picture it going to your arm (I know that isn’t how biology works, but just picture it.) Then when you breath out, you imagine that arm relaxing. If you do that for your entire body. I promise you, you will be goo. Complete and utter blissful goo where ever you are. Sometimes I do it before bed, after I pray and I am telling you it is so relaxing I just fall asleep.

There are meditations on a free ap called insight timer. All of them are good but look for the ones that are described as a body scan to walk you through what I am talking about.

The other practice I am adding to my life is to use affirmations every morning. I’ve found it is really helping me with my life because I have been so down lately. I don’t know how it will work during my dark days because I haven’t had any since adopting this practice, but so far it is helping me to be more focused. Affirmations or Intentions can be anything but I have been using three so far.

  1. I will honor God with how I care for my body because it is the temple of the Holy Spirit. — That one is from 1 Corinthians 6:19. I like it because it motivates me to take care of my body and my mind. It reminds me that taking care of me is important enough to make a priority. I, like most women, usually put myself last on the list of to do’s for the day.
  2. I will have the courage and tenacity to create art — I have been doing this so I will be fierce in my writing. I think any kind of art takes courage because it is hard to put your ideas out there. I need to have more tenacity and not get discouraged when I get something wrong. So, this intention is important to me, to get me to the computer.
  3. I will strive to love actively and deeply — This one I believe is the most important because I want to constantly show the people I love how I feel. I want to fill my heart with love always and I cling to that right now, because there is so much hate out there. I will not let it infect me. I want to love even those who want to harm me and those I hold dear. The last part is the hardest. Even though I try to be loving, it is difficult not to harden my heart to the people who want to hurt people I care about. Because I know nothing gets accomplished by my heart going to the dark side, I decided I needed a daily reminder to keep my eye on my soul. I will have the courage to love deeply and I encourage everyone to use that one right now. If everyone woke up and put love first, boy wouldn’t this be a better world.

These are a couple of ways I am trying to keep my mind, body, and soul this year. I encourage anyone to try to find something that grounds you, if you haven’t found it already. I’ve learned that I can’t control politics, religion, or other humans, but I can control how I react to all that. So, these small things, setting myself on a path every morning, are helping me stay the course. I need to be reminded every day to live my life fully, mindfully, and with love. This is how I am going to ground myself and keep my head.

 

Plagued with Self Doubt

Image
My Momma praying for me

Self doubt is my worst enemy. I seem like a very confident strong woman. For the most part I am but there are days and those days sometimes turn into weeks in which I don’t believe in myself. Keep in mind that I am an Oklahoman. I am one of the proud people of the plains who believe that with enough elbow grease you can get anything done. If you don’t get it done, you must not have wanted it bad enough. I do to a point believe that. I do believe that the fact I am not at my goal weight is because I didn’t want it early enough or have enough gumption to get the ball rolling. I also believe I haven’t had enough passion to keep it rolling. I know that seems simplistic. There are so many factors in achieving a goal: environment, personal health, and support etc. However, isn’t desire the most important part?

I would say desire, confidence, and hope. I mean these are the only things that I can bring to the situation, no matter the goal. Want and confidence I guess factor into hope. I feel like hope makes the time go faster when you are working on something. Hope makes the minutes on the elliptical machine speed by, and hope for a better future makes toiling away listening to a customer screaming at me now more pleasant or I at least more tolerable.

When I doubt myself, it is the coldest place in my heart. It’s like I have no confidence, and therefore no hope, except for prayer. My momma says, “Give it to God.” Now she says that, but she used to say, “Got helps those who help themselves.” I mean I can pray all the day long while eating pizza and my goal of losing weight will still go out the window. I do pray for strength, but I think my mother’s first thought was the correct one. I have to also help myself.

I have to believe that God gave me the strength and the fortitude to accomplish my goals. So where does that come from. I know that some days I feel it, but sometimes I just don’t. Inner strength seems to come and go, but I don’t know what causes it to go. More importantly, it seems so hard to dig myself out. Not only that but it seems like I store self doubt in my closet and when I pull out one box, all the other boxes come out and clobber me. When I am knocked out under the boxes and boxes of doubt, I think, I can’t do anything right. What’s the point? Why apply myself with anything if I always fail? How do I stop this thinking? How do I slowly pick box after box off the floor and clean them out and return them to the closet. Because by the time I recognize it is happening it is always to the point where I am down there on the floor.

Well, there is prayer. I ask God for strength and to help me get back my gumption. The second thing that I usually do is try to do something small I know I am good at. My go to move is to make a dinner I know I cook well. I personally believe I make the best chicken fried steak, mashed potatoes and gravy in the upper northwest. The practice of making this meal makes me feel capable and smart. I know that too seems simple a task but sometimes I have to go back to step one. Okay I can do this. Not only is this meal special in that I make it very delicious. It is the meal that most reminds me of and makes me proud of my home. Don’t get me wrong, if I could make a decent pie that is what I would do. Pies are also what make me proud of the Midwest. I can’t do that, but I make a mean gravy. It is not good for my waist line but boy is making that meal good for my soul. I feel competent, I get compliments, and I am transported home. Then I can move onto bigger things like getting onto that elliptical again, not eating after a certain time of night, or editing that book I have been working on. I have to go back to walking before I can run.