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Posts tagged ‘mental health’

Sleepy Sunday Sangha Sitting

Still maintaining some semblance of serenity.

Still maintaining some semblance of serenity.

The past few weeks I haven’t been meditating much at all, even at work.  The humdrum cycle of school-work-schoolwork-work-schoolwork-work-school has been zombifying me a bit.   I also haven’t been as desperate at work for the silence as I had been previous weeks since the unit has calmed down a bit.  There were also a coupla coffee first-meets, some schoolwork, but generally just eating dinner in the office near the nursing station where we usually eat – our unit doesn’t officially have a break room for the staff, go figure.

I still find it difficult to make that space/time at home.  I’m contemplating shutting myself in the bathroom for 10 minutes before or after showering, though it will bug the heck out of my zoo.  🙂

Today I got floated to a unit that didn’t end up needing me, and my unit was adequately staffed.  Thus, I asked for a day off and my wish was granted!  At some point the idea that it was Sunday and sangha happens on sundays crossed paths, and I resolved to go.

It was nice to be back, Rock Blossom Sangha is always so welcoming.  🙂

My back, however, complained given a lack of recent exercise and sitting time. Despite thinking I had propped myself up adequately, the first 20 minute meditation alternated between relaxation and random pains, and I adapted accordingly with slouching.   I was also rusty on battling my brain and I spent most of the time chasing after thoughts rather than remembering I could let them go for now.   My brain brought up thoughts and feelings from the past and future, a few of which I entertained  in order to provide some compassion to help their release.   What’s different now vs. when I started meditation in November (albeit irregular) is that I’m not beating myself up for not being able to reel in my brain and focus on my breath.  I Just keep reassuring myself I don’t need to act on these things, I have permission to be in the present moment and appreciate it, to just sit.

For the second 20 minute seated meditation, my body decided it was going to entertain serious sleepiness and that became the battle.  Battle?  Why is it a battle?  Let’s just call it a deep relaxation – though perhaps I should have just laid down for that 20 minutes and made it such.   After I regained some consciousness, I did become somewhat irritable hoping that bell would ring, but it didn’t.  I sat, dozed, thought, let thoughts go, breathed, sat, listened to the noises in the room, and eventually the bell rang.

I couldn’t quite shake the drowsiness during the dharma reading which was a passage by Pema Chodron that appeared in a recent issue of Shambala.  In it she discussed  meditation and the need to keep necessary things under consideration, though the human tendency is to make things a big deal.   Fortunately I can still read it online.   If I met a guru, I would sadly  forget 3/4 of what they said anyway, even at my most alert.  *sheepish cheesebrain grin*

Hopefully having the opportunity to sit with a sangha today will kickstart my meditation wagon again.

Now, time for schoolwork.  I’m doing pretty good with that this weekend considering there had been a bunch of procrastination the past coupla weeks too.

Afterwards hopefully will play some cards against humanity with the waiters.  🙂   I never played, though I have bonus cards from over the holiday – including a card with my name on it!  Woot!

Reawakening to reality

It is a good thing I set that 10 minute timer…sometimes it is the mediator between meditative state and rounding the corner to sleep.  🙂 

Today I meditated in my car before returning home from school.

The last several times I’ve used my 30 sec prep time to say a little prayer or give some gratitude.   I find it does indeed prep my mind/body a little more for the sitting.

Today even though my brain was all over the place, I managed to start counting breaths towards the end of the sit and got up to 13 before the bell rang.   Not sure if I could have maintained focus until 21.  Lol.  Today was just one of those days where paying attention to my breaths did not cause my chest to feel tight – part of why I have trouble focusing on the breath.

It was also one of those sessions where when the sit was done, I opened my eyes but really did not want to move my body.  It was definitely relaxed, kind of heavy.  I really didnt want to move.    ♡

Things I’ve Survived: Sexual Abuse, Bullying, Substance Abuse

Converting this from a page to a category, so this is a repost.  

I have survived some crappy things  in my life, and with the help of intermittent therapy and life experiences over the years my self-esteem has grown tremendously.  The “victim” still likes to peek through my defense systems from time to time, and I know I still have a lot of healing to do.   Briefly, to be discussed in depth over time…

1. Bullying.  At the earliest, I was the kid that everyone picked on in school… “Booger Queen” … for the obvious reasons.   I had very few consistent friends growing up, and I was basically bullied until, and past, JHS.  It wasn’t until HS that I felt I was able to start having a real social life.  Consequently, though, I have difficulty maintaining active friendships.  I have a lot of friends, but not a lot of active friendships, if that makes any sense.  Interestingly, facebook has been a valuable tool for me to be less isolated, and some of my longer-term friends are becoming even greater friends now.   :)

2. Sexual Abuse.  From the ages of 8-13, approximately, I was sexually abused by a male relative who will remain unidentified for now,  out of respect for his own life conflicts that led to him abusing me (he was abused), and for the brevity he showed throughout the years in terms of admitting his wrongdoings and being accountable for them.   I am aware that my gregarious sexual nature is likely secondary to this, but man, am I grateful I am very interested in sex, as opposed to very scared by it!    However, with the combination of the bullying history and this, I have tended to be in serial relationships, also preventing me from fostering active friendships.   However, now, Fall 2012, I am committed to not being in a primary relationship for a while and learning how to have friendships and be more independent – even though I was mostly independent in my relationships but there was a lot of codependency.

3. PolySubstance Abuse.   Addictive traits run in my family, and, having seen their effects  I really never thought it would happen to me.   In my teen years and early 20′s I was sort of a good girl (except for lots of romantic affairs!)  and it wasn’t until my late 20′s that my dabbling in alcohol and drugs took over my life.   I’m grateful to be sober today!   Every time I see a patient in the hospital who is still caught in the grips of the addictive cycle, I feel both merciful towards them and even more grateful for my own sobriety.   My clean date is May 1st, 2007, so as of 2012 I’m clean 5+ years!!!   so as of today I’m clean for 6 years, 7 months, and change.  Fortunately I got clean before getting my Nursing license, and I pray pray pray I never ever pick up again while I am a Nurse!  That is such a scary fate, with diverting medication and trust issues with coworkers and all that.   I am consciously aware of the possibility that if I don’t take care of myself, and if I relapse, that would be a possible ending.

Meditation Day 9 – 12/10/13

FYI, I put the date in my subject because when I look at posts by category, the date disappears.  If someone can help me rectify this it would be awesome.  

Today’s meditation just happened, for 15 minutes.  Doing it at night should not become habit because in the past I’ve tended to get restless legs when trying to sit at night.

Gave the dogs some new bones to distract them and sat on a pillow at the edge of my (very sturdy) coffee table.  I had buckets of coffee while writing a paper at the cafe, so my heart is pounding, and irregularly given my sinus arrhythmia, my chest also felt tight.  Why does my chest often feel tight when I start watching my breath?

To ease the “gotta do this other thing” and “I should go swimming tonight but first I would need to get new goggles and….” I repeatedly gave myself permission to sit in the moment.  That seemed to be the most recurrent thought, was my consciously saying to myself, in my head, I give you permission to sit right here and observe this moment.   After a while of that, I could feel my body easing.

It’s interesting to observe the body melting into relaxation, and the breath and mind become that much more visible, clear.  “Gotta do…”  No, self, feel the body relaxing, all that can wait.  Observe this moment… Amazing how hard it is to sit in the moment with my eyes closed and body still.

Interestingly, at some point, tidbits of a dream I had last night that I had already forgotten came out.

I was with my family in a K-mart lobby of sorts, we were on a road trip and stopped here to pick someone up.   I remember finding Nanny (my deceased maternal grandmother) in a dressing room, though I think we were still waiting for someone else.  When I thought of merely her name coming up in a dream a few weeks ago, and then my use of her to provide nurturing while creating an improved “memory” experience during EMDR today in therapy, I thought to myself … maybe that’s a sign that she is hanging out, keeping an eye on me, and I got a bit misty.   Returned to focusing on the breath, though, which had calmed a bit at that point, instead of sitting with that notion – I’m not sure why I didn’t.

I find it absolutely fascinating that in the mental stillness, a portion of a forgotten dream resurfaced. What else might come up?

At some point I became concerned with time, wanting the meditation to be over already.  I had to surrender…”it will be time when it is time” I said to myself.   I’m unable to recall whether my upper back started getting achy before or after that.  🙂

One of my cats joined me at my back on the pillow once or twice.  She was the first interaction I had when re-awakened, being at my feet for some scritches.

When the bell rang, I didn’t want to move.

I felt peaceful.

Meditation Day 7 – 12/8/13

Today before work I made a smart move.

After fuzzcare, before coffee/shower, I gave the boys some bully sticks to work on and consequently got an undisturbed 15 minute sit session in.   I might have to avoid meditating on the couch in the future if I have to go to work, though, since right after finished I put my head off to the side and promptly fell asleep.   Thank God I woke up before I had to be at work, though I was late.

What stood out about this particular meditation was feeling a sense of relief as I settled into it.  My being was looking forward to it – perhaps sensing benefit already even though a week of meditation at home hasn’t shown profound results as a few days at the monastery did.  🙂    Also, I thought the timer was broken…15 minutes seemed to take an awfully long time today even though my brain wasn’t particularly noisy.

Of course, I am writing daily.  That’s an interesting “side effect.”

I would like to figure out where the meditation session fits perfectly into the daily routine, though.

I seem to crave routine now when it used to be something I hated unless there was great variety. For example, when I was in school and worked 3 completely different part-time jobs:  Tutoring, body piercing, exotic dancing.  🙂     I can’t say I was very well-balanced during that time, of course, and that is what I am seeking now.   Balance, peace, bounties of love and joy, serenity with planned chaos and adrenaline-laden activities.

Just keep practicing, right?

I will find the way.

Meditation Day 6 – 12/7/13

Didn’t really have the time or headspace to meditate before work today, so resolved to meditate at work at the beginning of my break, which I did.

Started in a conference room chair with the lights out, planning to sit for 15 minutes with a minute prep time.

In less than a minute, decided the whirr of computers and squeal of the wifi router and tick tick tick tick of the clock was overwhelmingly annoying, and there was also a likelihood of getting interrupted.    Took it to the exam room which would only be entered into for an emergency or supplies.  Still whirr-squeal, but no tick tick tick.   So, I sat.

Shhh brain, shhhhhhhh.  My chest felt tight trying to watch my breath, sitting up on the stool felt weird, then leaning my back against the exam table was annoying so sat up tall again.  Whirrrsqueealll!   Kept having to lasso the brain in, though there were a few milli-moments of feeling relaxed.  Thought about bringing ear plugs tomorrow, though in such a room I would still perceive EMF’s were effecting me even if I couldn’t hear them.  (Reminder – prioritize moving cable modem and wifi router out of bedroom at home in the next few weeks!)

After the chime rang and I opened my eyes though I realized my body had been more relaxed than I recognized, at least from the waist down and in my head.    There was more going on than my mind’s eye perceived.  🙂

Tomorrow, if I end up meditating at work again I’m going to bring earplugs and sit in the seclusion room, which we don’t use very often.  Although I did have my Ipod and could have played a music or guided meditation, I also want to learn stillness, watching breath, observing self. Meditation music and chants are fab but are not entirely self-directed journeys from within.   I can’t believe I’m saying this.  A few years ago I thought just sitting and watching one’s breath was annoying and stupid.  🙂

Onward we journey.

90 meditations in 90 days

Over thanksgiving weekend I went to a retreat at Blue Cliff Monastery in upstate NY.   Monday morning as I was walking my dogs I felt amazing! Full of joy and gratitude, and my feelings were tainted by sadness over the weekend so this was a surprise.

After my last visit to KTD monastery for evening meditation in August I swore I would mediate for 30 mins a day.  Snicker.

Now I’m just going to aim for 90 meditations (at least 5 minutes) in 90 days, a la the 12 step advice to make 90 meetings in 90 days when first getting clean. Now it is day 3 and going strong!  I will chronicle that journey here.

Pending.

SCHOOL: Last week I registered with the department for the differently-abled students at my school … which felt both like an embarrassment and a relief.  I broke down several times last Wednesday, and finally the inside drama matched the outside mood…and now I have support with more time to do my work.   However, apparently my school no longer has a writing center?   Hm.   Finally, this week I started working on my schoolwork again, more peacefully, with some acceptance.  I need to organize my work, though. I have NEVER had a binder in as much chaos as mine is now!   I usually procrastinate with organizing tasks.   I officially withdrew from the history class, and a part of me wants to still withdraw from English but there is no reason. The teacher will work with me, and I have a lot I can grok about me from these readings..

 
HEALTH: Today I weighed 189.4 on the work scale!  First time I’ve seen a number below 190 in at least a year.   Only exercising moderately, and not sure that I’m really eating healthier…but still!   On the way down.   Biking to/fro the train is getting easier, not having to shift gears to handle the hills!  Not getting nearly as out of breath.   Wish I had managed to go swimming last week… I miss the pool when I skip a week!
WORK/TIME: I’m so impatiently waiting to hear back about a transfer I applied for to a psych floor, which would be a 5 day/week job, still ever other weekend, 7a-3pm.  Thought I would hear by today!   I vibed well with the manager, and hope that someone with more seniority doesn’t come along again and get the position like what happened when I was supposed to go to tele once upon a time.  But, I ended up on med-surg days with an awesome group of nurses and became a more serious nurse myself.  So, of course, whatever happens will work out for the best.  BUT I really want a change NOW…and psych is my future.  I want to start that future, not keep psych-ing patients when I should be focusing on the medicine more in an effort to leave on time.   Plus, I think working 5d/week will actually facilitate my having a more balanced life at the moment, and I can learn to schedule my non-work activities better..such as art, school, exercise, recreation, socialization.   Still have not realized my goal of being early to work, hypnosis session on Monday.

CARING: Today I had 2 patients who were slated for hospice, and 1 who perhaps might as well be in it.  The hospice patients are already elderly.  The other is middle aged and would prefer  to remain homeless and independent with her boyfriend than spend her last days-months-years in a nursing home “in a robe playing monopoly.”    Tried to convince her to stick around for a middle ground, to wait and see if they can get some kind of housing together….she is concerned about getting ready for the winter.  If she attempts to spend the winter homeless she will probably die.   I can understand her desire for freedom, and I expressed that.   However,  I had no specific answers for her, just encouragement and an ear.   She is probably closer to death than my two hospice patients at this point.

INSIDES:  Hopeful, nervous about change (“You’re not scared of the new job, you’re scared of change.”  “You’re right!”  “Isn’t it delicous? The adventure?”), Enjoying the company of a few very different lovers and have had some quite interesting exchanges.  Yet My orgasm wasn’t very forthcoming last night.  However, I am gushing and gushing squirts like never before in my life.  Seriously.   I am also enjoying the company of my house guest/mate, who is most definitely not a lover, but whom I am developing a hug relationship with.   Love my animals.   Feeling a decent amount of self-esteem and confidence.   Feeling on edge when I sit still, though, there are still feelings to sort through and let go of.   Missed therapy the last 2 weeks because of my fault first (Remembered the day before, forgot the night before and morning of!), and a scheduling misunderstanding the next.  Wanting stillness, need to make technology-free time.   Right now my legs feel restless, though.  There is an underlying tension in my gut and spine sometimes.

 

…and now, I should probably go to bed now but I felt compelled to write first. Glad I did!

 

 

Time and madness

Another day passes rapidly, another to-do list drawn out, though not laid out.

I’m stuck on photocopying literature I need to read, rather than just reading it and taking notes on a separate page.  I should have never separated the pages from my world lit book, but it is so nice to be able to take notes directly next to the text.   My printer can’t handle the smaller pages in the auto-feed tray, so to copy duplex i have to flip the pages by hand.    After I copy this last article, I will have all this week’s assigments “copied.”    Meanwhile, I have a nursing assignment or 2 due tomorrow, 11 chapters to study by next week, and my english stuff due thursday (candide and some poems, with reading journals), and much much more crap due next week.  I am drowning in undone schoolwork.    I want to adjourn this semester, though, that would be 2k down the drain and a semester further away from my goals.   I could also just cut it down to 1 class, my nursing class.   Though, I really like my Literature teacher.  😦

Although I am interested in the subjects I am studying, I am having a really hard time forcing myself to sit there and do the work.    Even if I did drop my classes, it is only 3 months until the next semester.    Would 3 months be enough to find my school mojo again?  I took last year off because of my mom and a desire to find a new job, and because of the grieving and being blah and fearful, I never did find that new job.

What I really want to do is exercise – [take yoga, Aikido, swim, bike] and decorate my house [paint my room, hang some art], make art,  study art, read for fun, and socialize – I’ve this grand desire to socialize at the moment, a lot, friends and lovers, with my animals and myself.      I also want to purge my house of crap, and build this blog and my digital life archive.    If I didn’t have my animals I would be a nomad.

Then there is also being late for work a lot lately.  It started out as 5 minutes.  Now it’s 10 minutes.   Granted, I’m losing my steam for med-surg really quickly, but that is no excuse.   Even though I am having more and more trouble getting up, there is still the consequence of being really inconsiderate to the nurse I am relieving.   Being late has been a lifelong problem for me, inherited from my mother.  It is something I want to overcome.  I am considering hypnosis at this point.   I end up being late for things I’m interested in, too.

My psychiatrist suggests I’m not taking care of myself and that I have too much going on.   My therapist suggests that I’m being indulgent and also not following through with the commitment I made for this semester.    I say … I don’t know what I say – but I agree with both of them.   For my own voice, I haven’t stopped to listen and be decisive.   I’m just being scattered and fluttering about.    There are (always) lots of passions and interests competing for attention, and there is an undercurrent of unrest, dis-ease, competing with a desire for balance and peace.   There is also a samsung galaxy s3 I keep getting caught up playing with.
My frustration tolerance for dealing with the anxiety associated with schoolwork is low at the moment, untrained.  Is it unwillingness or inability?   Where do they intersect?   Sigh.