My mind is tired of mindfulness

There was a moment a couple of weeks ago when I became extremely angry at mindfulness. Extreme stress had taken an emotional and physical toll on my body in a way that I hadn’t experienced before, alarming all the health-care professionals in my life, which in turn alarmed me. At first, I was concerned, scared and confused. Then I got angry!  I heard myself say sarcastically, “Well I’m glad I spent all these years in a mindfulness, yoga and meditation practice. Look where that got me!” Then I laughed at my venomous response to fear, and at the absurdity (and the truth) of those words.

I’ve had a very steady and intentional mindfulness practice for over twenty-five years. I started it years ago when I needed to change the way I was dealing with tremendous stress and hopelessness. I had two very young children at the time and needed to find a way to stay present when all I wanted to do was run away physically, emotionally, and mentally. Twenty-five years ago, mindfulness was not mainstream, but that didn’t matter to me. I quietly sought out teachers, read books, and practiced what I learned. It became a way of life for me and I found in the silence of my struggle it kept me steady and fairly calm.

It isn’t lost on me that I found myself weary and angry the other day towards the very thing that helped me find solace all those years ago.  Sometimes fear will do that.

Over the years as I’ve learned to live and find ways to manage the symptoms of complex PTSD, I found an important part of my healing was learning to live mindfully with intention. At times managing symptoms while living mindfully felt incongruent; a paradox. I wondered if my desire to live a life that was mindful and felt meaningful to me would always be shadowed by how I have to cope day-to-day with my PTSD? Could I find a middle ground? To my surprise, I could find a middle ground and I felt like I was able to carve out a purposeful life that I lived with intention.

Then I experienced what chronic, and pervasive stress can do to one’s health. It was more than just the platitude that stress does terrible things to your body. I am in the throes of living what unrelenting stress has done to my body. Some of it has resolved, but there is still some lingering damage. As I sit in silence and let the thoughts come, I realize that if I had not been practicing all these years, that I may not be here today, or I may be curled up in a corner rocking. I am both on the mend physically, and I’m definitely not in the corner.

I try to honor being awake. The connectedness we have to all things, the impermanence of the moments both perfect and non-perfect, the beauty, the wonder, and the power of being present. I believe that sometimes I will grow weary and tired, and maybe I’ll misdirect my fear towards the very thing that is helping me heal. Perhaps that is also part of the practice of mindfulness.

Photo by Ashley Batz on Unsplash

Thank you for reading my books: If I Could Tell You How It Feels, and Untangled, A Story of Resilience, Courage, and Triumph      

 

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The Brand New Day

I got trapped in the shadow-side
the clouds enveloping me
oozing fingers of the past
creeping along my spine

For months I couldn’t find
the brand new day ~ I drifted
feeling so alone and lonely
grasping white-knuckled
to the real-
to the right now truth of I am not alone

I knew that I was cared-for
as I wept tears of fear, pain & despair
even through the stony darkness, I felt the love
I could hear that I was missed and needed

In the dark, before the dawn, I hear
this will pass~it always does
the voice of a brand new day reassuring me
that it isn’t extinct

Today the dark shade went up, the sun pointed the way
bursting through the tangle of weeds
I entered the garden
which grew out of friendship
trust, and tender care

The delicate petals that hold my secrets
were gently and safely urging
let go, it’s over
breathe in
the colors of peace
It’s a brand new day

©Alexis Rose, image source: Pixabay

Thank you for reading my books: If I Could Tell You How It Feels, and Untangled, A Story of Resilience, Courage, and Triumph      

Doubt

I see you standing, lurking behind the tree
I feel your presence, hear the shallow breaths
whispers that are prickly on my arm and neck hair

I smell the over-ripe coat and hat as you approach
and I think, it doesn’t seem that long ago that I last saw you
Then I hear that familiar knock on my self-esteem’s door

I would like to say that self-doubt comes uninvited
but that would not  be honest
most definitely unwanted
but I believe unconsciously invited

I open the door, and with its hat in hand
I invite doubt in for a cup of tea
and listen as it tells me what it thinks of me

Outwardly, to others, it appears ” I’m fine”
Outwardly, I look strong and determined

I am strong and determined

But as self-doubt sips its tea
it slyly presses play; spinning old tapes
that drone familiar chants of, “You’re not good enough
not worthy, not well enough, not smart enough, give up”
the smell of fear and rejection hang in the air between us
I feel a sinister dark-dread
creep up my spine trying to blacken and shred my self-esteem

The grasp of my thinly held mantra
that my inner beauty, strength, and talent
far outweigh any deficits that I have
begins to fade as self-doubt asks to extend tea time
into a meal and a nice nap

I’ve heard enough, felt enough, spiraled enough
I can’t entertain it any longer, I’m done
I clear the tea, thank it for its visit and show self-doubt the door

As soon as it’s gone the air is clear, fresh
and I take control of internal thoughts about myself
and how I’m navigating the world around me

I give myself room to breathe, change, and grow
emerging once again from the shadows of the shame of  PTSD

As this bout of self-doubt fades onto a distant shore
I understand that I may again, hear this familiar knock on my door
and when I do, I’ll invite it in for a cup of tea
and listen with a loving, compassionate ear

These days the visits are shorter, and farther between
but I know that although unwanted, self-doubt does not come uninvited

Artwork: Janet Rosauer

Thank you for reading my books: If I Could Tell You How It Feels, and Untangled, A Story of Resilience, Courage, and Triumph      

 

The Message

Meandering through
the crystallized mountains
my spirit awakens
with the message
of those who lived long ago
yet still, walk among us

They spoke to me of
kindness, respect
and the resolve to
stay steadfast
in hope and optimism

They showed me the
ability to ride
the tiger to battle
and to surf the waves
of emotions

I tasted the
tears of fear
of loss, of joy

I felt moments
that seemed unbearable
yet, still remained perfect

Hearing the laughter
Tasting the sweet kiss
Smelling the land
Touching the stars
Seeing the sun-rise
and set

Knowing
every day
every night
the times I fail
or falter
or act in the most human of ways
if I keep my heart open
and listen
the message remains the same

©Alexis Rose, Image source Pexels

Thank you for reading my books:  If I Could Tell You How It Feels,  and  Untangled, A Story of Resilience, Courage, and Triumph

 

 

Riding the Winds of Change

I experienced a profound and precious moment the other day. My kids are grown and have flown from the nest. They are making their way in the world and creating their own lives as adults with a lot of fortitude and grace. My youngest lives in a different state and is back for a few weeks this summer. From another room, I heard my kids talking to each other at the table. The easy cadence of siblings who had become friends brought a smile to my face. I closed my eyes for a moment and realized that lately, I have been riding the winds of change.

Change is a fact of life. Our bodies change, as do our cognitive abilities. Our circumstances change, the weather changes and so do the seasons. We change our minds, our clothes and our cell phones. Sometimes we embrace change, but sometimes change can feel daunting. The fear of the unknown and the anticipation of what might be can be paralyzing; the feeling of vulnerability can prevent us from moving forward.

But change is inevitable. I have been through an enormous amount of change in the past two years. Some of it was unanticipated and frightening, while some of it has been purposeful and has brought about a sense of freedom and peace.

Typically, when I enter a new decade I think about the goals I want to achieve for the next ten years. I am approaching a “big” birthday in August and instead of thinking about goals, I find myself thinking about what wonderful possibilities will open up in the next phase of life.

As retirement gets closer for some, and we experience the natural cycle of parents and in-laws passing away, the conversations I have with my friends has changed. Sometimes turning to the inevitable health scares we may be experiencing, as we collectively hold our breaths for one another until we hear the results of the test.

And still, many of us, including myself, feel ageless. We feel more confident about our bodies, and claim that confidence with the ease that alluded us in our younger decades. No longer trying to live up to society’s version of what size is beautiful.

I noticed that I’ve learned to embrace my ability to say, “no.” I’m calmer and much more confident in my writing and when I’m asked to speak to groups. I’ve learned to discern what is a fit for me as I continue to help support survivors of trauma and bring awareness to living with PTSD.

Change has brought the gift of new friends and has deepened the roots of long-time friendships. Change provides perspective. It has prepared me to understand when to let go, and when to fight. It has also taught me a great deal about self-respect and self-compassion. Beautiful, painful, and thought-provoking lessons.

I realize that nothing stays constant; there is always change, and that brings a sense of freedom and empowerment. Of late, that freedom has brought a sense of calmness. I’ve realized that part of experiencing a very lived life is catching the current and riding the winds of change.

image source: pixabay

Thank you for reading my books: If I Could Tell You How It Feels, and Untangled, A Story of Resilience, Courage, and Triumph      

The Shadow-Side

The shadow cocoons us
with the promise
of flat light and invisible details.

Sometimes looming ahead
sidled up next to us, stretching behind
living inside us all; The Shadow-side

It’s not necessarily a dark, dank
scary place to be ignored.
It is simply the Yin to our Yang.

A place where peace is felt from
the adventures of yesterdays
or a spark is ignited
for the risks of tomorrows.

The whispers of things we think
we don’t want to do or hear.
Patiently waiting for the light
so we can hear the things we need to know.

It can cloak us in a protective incubator
or feel as if it will swallow us
in the depths of grief, and despair.

Bending, changing, pulling, letting go, dissipating.
Its fluidity is as impermanent as all the other quirks
and talents that make up the whole of who we are.

We can learn to befriend, listen and hear
the messages whispered from our shadow-side.
Listen
Can you hear?
It’s time to turn your face towards the sun.

©Alexis Rose, image: Pixabay

Thank you for reading my books: If I Could Tell You How It Feels, and Untangled, A Story of Resilience, Courage, and Triumph      

 

 

She Listens With More Than Her Ears

She listens with more than her ears.
The light from her soul
and the joy
in her heart
illuminate the world around her.

Silently saying a prayer
she feels the comfortable beat of her heart
as she flows to the music within.

 

©Alexis Rose, image source: Pixabay

Thank you for reading my books: If I Could Tell You How It Feels, and Untangled, A Story of Resilience, Courage, and Triumph