Mindfulness Meditation. It’s what I just now attempted to do. I managed it for a whole ten minutes by focusing on my breath. When my mind wanders, gently bring it back to my breath. According to Dan Siegel, a wonderful psychiatrist and researcher who has written several books, we can rewire our brain and our neural networks just by practising focused attention. If I am not in tune with my emotions, or if my emotions are overwhelming and dysregulated, I can practice mindfulness and eventually that practice, even if it’s only five minutes a day, will help me, in the long run, to be more aware of what is going on inside. Dan Siegel calls it “the sea inside.
I am drinking hot tea. I have delicious-smelling candles on. Today is Sunday. Instead of going to church, I decided to cook steel-cut oatmeal, which takes about half an hour to cook, and I opted for my mindfulness practice to be my church today. Sometimes we just need to be quiet and calm. Sometimes being around lots of people, albeit that they are friendly and smiling, can be, well, just not the right thing at that time. We are all different and we all have different needs. Today my need was turning inward and spending time with myself. It really feels good. I even watered my plants today! That’s a huge accomplishment because it doesn’t often get done. My avocado plant which I grew from seed is about a foot and a half tall and over half a year old. I am very proud of this accomplishment.
Dan Siegel also talks about “the rim of awareness.” This is in his book called “Mindsight,” which I am listening to. It is read by the author himself. The rim of awareness is like a bicycle wheel. There is the outer rim, then the spokes, which are like our different thoughts, and then the inner circle which is the “hub.” I think of the hub as my safe place. Right now my focus is on feeling safe, and if that means I need to sleep twelve hours a day because it feels safer than experiencing my strong emotions, then so be it. I used to get very angry with myself for oversleeping. There was a time in my life when I have slept and stayed in bed for 22 hours a day, multiple days in a row. Now I am not so depressed and this sleeping a lot is still a protective measure and a defence mechanism. I am defending myself against the difficult thoughts and emotions which come up.
Now that I have been in therapy for over ten years, well, I have a better understanding of the sea inside. I can name my emotions. Another saying in psychology is, “name it to tame it.” It’s true. If you can identify and put words and a name to your emotions, then it gives those emotions less power by the simple blessing of your greater awareness. It’s a powerful thing, awareness, conscious awareness and focused attention.
In my mind, it has been many years since I left the man who had abused and controlled me for almost a decade of my life. I left him in 2012, not knowing whether I could survive without him because he made sure I depended on him entirely, in every aspect, and also knowing that I would not survive another day living with him because I was extremely suicidal and had attempted to take my life several times already. I am safe now. I have to remind myself that no one is abusing me. No one is criticising me or putting me down. No one is telling me what to do. No one is making me do things I don’t want to do. No one is hurting me on the inside or on the outside, physically. I pray to God that he protects my mind, my soul, my body and my spirit. I pray that I remain safe and that the nightmares don’t come back. He has been in my dreams lately, occasionally, but he no longer scares me. I have my power back. I have the power I always knew I had but was too afraid to exert.
I am okay now. I just have to keep telling myself that. Sometimes I feel not okay, and those times are difficult to get through. As my therapist always reminds me, “feelings come and go but I remain.” It works every time he tells me that. It’s like a mantra which gives me comfort and reminds me that I don’t have to let my emotions take over and control me. I get to choose to be okay and I am choosing to be safe.