Awakening the Goddess Within

I am pleased to share my newest poem, Awakening the Goddess Within.  The YouTube link takes you to the video with images and my voice recording. Please check it out and subscribe to my YouTube Channel for more original content.

I’ve hated my poor body for as long as I can think

I stared into this mirror wishing my fat would shrink

Diets upon diets, but they just called me fat

Until I started starving, feeling strong though I was weak

I’d jam my fingers down my aching throat

Retch burns as it burst forth

Sobbing in the toilet

Too sick to see my worth

Retching until bleeding and losing clumps of hair

But still it begged the question:

Is this life worth more than death?

I couldn’t stand to see me naked

Slivered silver stretch marked flesh

All I saw were rolls and numbers, shadowing the love

I tortured this poor body

With cuts, with men, with hate

Smiling when I’m starving

Puking when I ate

They insisted I must lose it

But all I heard was hate

I sacrificed my mind

My smiles

And my time

When they said to lose it, I sacrificed myself

When they said to lose it, there was no thought for health

Slivered silver knife wounds slice

Torturing the pounds and sense of self

For the sweetness of changing scales

Irrelevant extras vs larges

Even though I am no fool

If they want you to feel sexy, I could be a 12

But just two racks over, 18 and purging hell

The hatred coursed inside of me

A black beast upon my soul

I found those who could feed me

The pain I craved to know

If you were fool enough to love me,

I’d be sure to make you change

I love you could never fulfill me

When I hate you is what I crave

It wasn’t until I started seeing

The goddess here inside

Standing naked and resplendent

A Venus in her shell

Aphrodite’s tears are blood red

As so many of us know

They tell you you’re unworthy

They tell you to lose those pounds

They tell you that some makeup

Is the cure to all your frowns

They tell you to win the guy now

They tell you to keep him close

They tell you all the ways to hate you

Because they want you on your toes

You need to consume their fixes

Unworthy little hoes

It wasn’t until I saw the sacred

Silver slivers of a tiger

Who’s been to war in me

The scarred skin of a soldier

When the treaty begged for peace

This body has created life now

My body nurtured four

They just sat in judgement

Some called me a fucking whore

Because I just can’t win here

And I no longer care

I’m not here to please them

And I won’t make my heaven hell

I came play and love here

Because I am the goddess inside

I am naked in the moonlight

Silver slivers of my soul

Transcendence of Selene,

Transforming silver into gold

I am one with love and nurture

I am nature’s warrior soul

I’m in love with crown to root here

I cannot please them worth a damn

They say to hide away here

So I flay my soul more bare

I shine brightest in my darkness

Because I won the war in me here

And I no longer have a care

Enjoying my work? Is it resonating? Check out my other poem, Synchronicity. Please share, and connect with me across Social media via the below links:

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From Fear to Love: How my muses saved my writing

Inspiration comes to me like a flash. If I’m not prepared with something to write, I typically end up dropping everything and typing it on my phone. I’ve lost too many good epiphanies otherwise. The tough ones are when I am getting inspired out the wazoo as I’m trying to go to sleep. My muses don’t seem to have a circadian rhythm.

There are three muses in my life who similarly aren’t big on the concept of letting me sleep: my kids. Their inability to give me quiet time or an extra hour to sleep in notwithstanding, they are my everything. They are the reason I write and have been since I started. It was the mantra “My children will never cry my tears.” that started this journey.

I knew deeply if I did not stop my shit, I would pass it on to them. I remember thinking how they couldn’t know what I was doing when I was purging or starving, but the look of relief on my daughter’s face when I suggested we stop and get some food proved me dead wrong. I know how I speak to them will become their inner monologue. I’m human, I screw up, I get angry, I say dumb shit. I’ve always feared I was ruining their lives, I was screwing them up, etc. etc. Hurt people hurt people, and I was so terrified of hurting them. My pain radiated to my marriage until it imploded, it’s a natural assumption to fear what it could do to them.

All of that fear was the impetus to write, because I knew I could figure it out if I just wrote about it. I could have never expected the journey my writing has taken me on, but the more important reality is how much healing my writing has brought. I am world’s apart from the woman who started writing 2 years ago, and thank God for it.

Now, though, fear has no place in my life. Anything brought from a place of fear can only bring forth more fear, which is what happened when my mind shattered under the weight of my own pressure. This obsession with being well took me far, far down a rabbit hole of my psyche and shadows. It was a wonderful blessing wrapped in a curse. Carl Jung said, “Nothing more profoundly affects the mind of a child than the unlived life of the parent.” What he’s saying is we all project our fears on each other, most especially our kids. I didn’t want to project me not following my dreams on them. But, on my road to recovery, I connected with the reality: my writing will never be what it must be if it’s not born from a place of love. It’s only within the past month I’ve been able to write like I used to. Raw, honest, Me. I feel as though the words fall out of my fingertips and it’s meditation in action.

The shift was so simple, I don’t know why it did not occur to me sooner. Before, I wrote to save the children from my biggest fear: myself. Now, I write to save the children from their biggest challenges: themselves, society, and all the well meaning fools that will tell them now to follow their dreams. Then, as my kids get older, the instructions to chase dreams will be recanted and they’ll be told to get a real job. How many of us had our dreams shattered by a well meaning loved one? How many of us have an artist inside begging to come out while we sit behind a keyboard at a job we wish was anything else and make someone else rich, or make someone else’s dream come true?

My kids don’t listen to me worth a damn. I used to think talking about how they can do anything, etc. was enough, but the simple evidence of asking them to clean their rooms shows how well they listen. The same reality spurring my fear is the reality spurring my love: Kids watch and learn by example. If I am secretly starving myself, my kids are learning to hate their bodies. If I am sitting and writing, promoting, and actively pursuing my dream, my kids are learning to believe in themselves, their gifts, and their dreams.

This, to me, is my sacred duty as a mother. There are too many children trapped inside adults who were told they couldn’t cut it. There are too many of us full of doubt, remorse, regret, and confusion. This is probably going to sound weird, but it’s like killing Santa Claus over and over again. We tell our children there is magic in the world, we tell them Santa can do all of these incredible things. Then, when they’re old enough or when a kid on the playground decides to, we tell them it was a lie. We kill magic. Likewise, we tell the kid who wants to be an astronaut, firefighter, or artist they can do anything they set their minds to. When the chips are down, and it’s time to graduate high school, we encourage practicality and mortgage sized student loan debt.

If we starve our inner artist, or our inner child, look at the suffering we bring into ourselves. Depression and anxiety: how much of this is repressed dreams and gifts? I get so much anxiety if I am not writing, especially if I am having lots of ideas and I’m “too busy” to do anything with them. I write as much as I do just to stay on top of myself. Otherwise, I get overloaded, and I start panicking, and I’ll slump in depression. I mean, Christ, depression and repression sound pretty damn similar no?

Why are so many artists diagnosed ADHD, Bipolar, anxious, or depressed? This is our gift manifesting the wrong way. The sensitivity we have to life is our gift wrapped in a curse. We cannot express the mysteries, beauty, and perfection of art without feeling it immensely. We all know words are a pittance to reality, when we express pain or love, it’s nothing compared to truth. Yet our words come close, because of our gifts. If showing my kids the paths to their dreams, self worth, and self love is my sacred duty as a mother, writing about the beauty of reality is my sacred duty to life. Being completely authentic and truthful me, free of the bonds of people’s opinions, free of the bonds of fear, and free of repressed expression is my sacred duty to myself – my true self.

I can’t and won’t put my kids through a journey of trying to reconnect with something that was once crystal clear. When I was in 8th grade, I promised my teacher I’d dedicate my first book to her. There was not a shred of doubt I’d be a writer then. 21 years later, I’m finally “hey I should do something about that writing thing I liked to do…” I had so many dreams when I was younger. I was going to be POTUS, too. Dreams beget more dreams. I’m living my first dream now: I’m (technically) a stay at home mom raising 3 kids. I always saw that, I just didn’t understand the timing. They didn’t need me as a SAHM when they were babies, they need me now. Divine timing works that way, and it’s necessary to trust that. If you make your dreams known, worlds move to make that dream come true.

The people strong enough to step into their dream are the ones who make their dreams come true. The people who repress their dreams are the ones who have the shadows of regret and remorse. The only way I can be an example to my kids is to step into my dream and be a writer. It doesn’t matter the scale, I trust the universe on that one. They just need to see and hear me being a writer. Today. Not tomorrow, not one day. If I want to be a writer, I am a writer. Every time I press publish anywhere, I am a writer. That’s what they see. When my brain starts telling me I cannot, I picture the three of them, and I say of course I can. I have the best inspiration in the world. I have the best fan base in the world. My children.

How many of us are starving artists inside? I’m not talking financially. I am talking we have a muse, we  have a vision, we have a gift, and we are starved for expression. We take that gift, and shove it in the back of our psyche because it’s not practical.  Thank God for my children, otherwise I never would have started trying. I would have lied to myself to my deathbed and wondered where my life went. I have only truly experienced life to its fullest when I saw my dreams were already coming true, and all I had to do was step into them.  I hope, if you are struggling with your dream or believing in yourself, this inspires you to take the first steps. That’s how every journey begins.

What about you? Are you living your dreams? Who inspires you to live your dreams? If the answer is no, are you going to change it? 

Let’s connect! Follow me all around the web

Daina (OurBeautifulLies):

 

 

Marketing Art

The reason why you are struggling in your dream is not because of external forces. It’s because of a simple, logical one word answer: you. You lack marketing. You’re not marketing yourself – to yourself. How you speak and how you interact with the world is your brand, and your number one customer is you. Everyone else will follow your lead.

Coke does not tell you that they can clean a toilet bowl with their product. It’s true, but they don’t advertise that. They make you lick your lips when they talk about how badly you want that Coke and how much better you feel. They do not tell you how much sugar or calories it contains.

Are you following me? If you are advertising this shit to yourself, you will not hire yourself, you will not purchase from yourself, you will not read your poem, blog, article, buy a painting, get a tarot reading. Why would you? Why would they.

Marketing is strategic and logical. It is the left side of the brain and usually the weaker side of the brain in artists especially because they are right brained. Without marketing: internally and externally, you will not find a consumer. Research the law of 7s in marketing. Email lists, social media, everything is crucial, but finding your niche and finding your message is marketing. And you must market your art. You must network. You must be the CEO of your art. It’s balance. It’s analytical and strategic.

But it’s worthless if you don’t do it on yourself first.

Contact me if you’d like to discuss ways to better market your art, if this is of interest.

Feel free to follow me on Facebook, Blog page, I’m @mahbuttitches on Instagram and @ourbeautifullie on twitter. Let’s connect!!

❤️🧡💛💚💙💜

Would Buddha Take Medication?

This has been a question I’ve been ruminating on for well over a year. I am curious if there are others in a similar spot: for me, my alphabet soup of diagnoses led me to spirituality as did working through various addictions. Yet, I’ve found myself in a conundrum of: can I be spiritual and take medicine? Would Buddha have popped pills?

I began studying Buddhism when I realized modern psychology is basically renamed Buddhism. I figured I’d just go to the source. Buddhism is not a religion; it is a philosophy. The focus is disciplining the mind.

When I started meditating, I lived in fear of my mind. It was noisy, chaotic, nasty, and full of should have/would have/could have. I had always felt there were at least 2 me’s in existence. The mask and the fucked up girl behind the mask. When I came to meditation, my life had become a confusing blur of lies. I didn’t know who I was anymore because I lost track of the lies and reality.

In this journey, I’ve flip flopped between believing I am seriously ill and in need of help and believing there is nothing wrong with me, it is society making me sick.

The psychosis I had over a year ago was the great leveler. In that, I am forced to accept both answers to every question. There are things I saw and experienced that are so real to me even today, I shudder at the memory. Yet, no one else saw or heard these things. No one saw melting faces, or had any reason to believe the weird weather was all my fault. I can’t find the things I read anymore, yet I swear I read them. It’s a case of accepting what is: I cannot explain this, but it happened all the same.

The harder thing to accept is this absolutely started with meditation. I experienced something that I can not describe in words, and from that point on, my life was turned upside down. I did believe I was God, so it could be full delusional grandeur and mania. I also believed I was here to help people, and that too could be mania. I don’t know. The problem and solution always is: I don’t know. I’ve researched it endlessly. Kundalini awakenings resonate with what happened to me. Jung’s concept of the shadow is almost a verbatim account of the 3 or so weeks I was in psychosis. Everything, and I mean everything I was afraid of, worried about, hiding away, etc. came into my reality. It was as if my life was a Stephen King novel.

I still struggle talking about this, because I couldn’t write out everything that happened in those weeks if I had a lifetime to type. If I can one day, it will give Mr. King a run for his money.

After begging to be taken to the mental hospital, knowing if I didn’t go, I was going to kill myself: I’m still left with fear. There’s still a part of me worried I was wrong. On bad days of depression, I can worry I should have killed myself then, because at the time, I was convinced someone was going to kill my kids if I didn’t kill myself. I’ve never been more terrified of my mind. Yet, I had two choices, I could either get back on good terms with myself, or spend the rest of my days terrified of me as I had been.

It took me a long time to come back to meditation. Buddhism obviously teaches meditation, but I learned in the mental hospital. No one told me about needing a guide or a teacher. No one told me what meditation could unlock. The experience I had is very similar to what has been described as Kundalini awakenings, and there are warnings abound that this should not be undertaken without serious inner work to clear your demons. Me? I was obsessed with meditating because it made me feel good. I didn’t really know chakras or anything spiritual then.

Was it spiritual? Was it psychological? Those questions have plagued me for so long.

In reality, the only thing that did happen is all my worst fears did come true, and all the things I repressed came to the surface. I was terrified I was crazy, so I went crazy. I lost my mind. It doesn’t matter what was real or not real, because in my world, it was all true. In others, it was not. For me, I created a self fulfilling prophecy. I believed I was crazy, so crazy is what I was.

This is the nature of life. My truth is something only I have. No one sees the sky the same way, and we have no way of proving or disproving it because we can’t describe blue. This leads me back to my question. The Buddha taught how to discipline the mind to alleviate suffering. I believe he used the complete power of his focus, by watching his thoughts and choosing where he gave his focus.

The Buddha believed all suffering exists in our minds. We cling to the past and reject change, we chase the future and lose the present. We create huge expectations to bring disappointment. We live in extremes and reject reality. I have to wonder, though, how would Buddha deal with now? Look at the world we are in. He’s long gone, and many follow his way, yet does it resonate now? Ancient wisdom is wise, but does it make sense in a culture so vastly different? Would he need Effexor and Latuda to stay centered?

The world is so obsessed with labels and words. Everything has to be specifically characterized and in a box – we’ve turned ourselves into nouns and forms of grammar instead of living breathing constantly changing verbs. God is now an iPhone, I think. It’s very different from a monastic lifestyle in India. In the present, I think suffering is caused by our obsession with the word “or”. My suffering with the puzzle of my psychosis is an easy example of this. The reality is “and” not “or”. That is to say, everything I experienced was completely real, completely caused by meditation, AND bipolar. Why must they be mutually exclusive? Does mania make it false? I used to believe mania made my happiness a lie, and I would use analysis to rob myself of joy with the fear of being crazy.

In reality, to me, bipolar is a description of a particular form of suffering: attachment versus non attachment. I flee the bad days and run for the good days. Medication has helped, meditation helped, yoga helped. I don’t fear my bad days, and I enjoy the good days as they last. Non attachment.

The psychosis is forcing me to accept “and” because it’s the only plausible answer. It’s all of the above. Yet, strikingly, this is precisely what the Buddha taught in non duality. Everything in this life is a process. Sadness is necessary so that happiness is experienced. Rainy days are needed to grow flowers in the sunshine. All of the cliches. But it is truly everything. All the mental anguish I go through attempting to pick a side can easily be avoided by accepting both and sticking to the middle. Any extreme is bad for our minds. Moderation is key in everything.

If you can think about the most painful situation in your life, I am willing to bet there is an “or” you are struggling with. “Did he cheat on me because I wasn’t good enough or is he a shitty person?” Both. It’s both. He believed you weren’t good enough and that does make him a shitty person. It can be everything because it’s all part of one unified process. It’s up to us to decide and move forward. Obsessing with the why, and trying to label it disconnects us from reality and keeps us in fear of the unknown. The reality is: it is all unknown and known. Every moment is exactly as it’s meant to be, and suffering comes from constant ruminating and questioning thoughts. The only reality is action.

The rising diagnoses seem to flag this problem. As we all attempt to force ourselves in one particular box at the loss of another, trying to encapsulate ourselves in neat words and labels, we are losing our minds. Our sanity. Our obsession with words and thinking is making us insane.

Isn’t it interesting that modern psychology and Buddhism are so closely aligned? Why is meditation so crucial? Why did meditation help me go crazy? I appreciate it now, because now I have the opposite – I know what it feels like to lose my mind. I no longer need to analyze myself for crazy indicators.

Meditation is the art of doing nothing, because we all do too much. It is rare we have that counter balance. Like pushing do not disturb on a cell phone, meditation can create the space for truth and reality to shine through. The truth that we always need both. We need activity and we need stillness. We cannot be healthy in any one or the other situation.

What is the truth? What is reality? I don’t know anymore. I think that’s the most truthful I can get. This journey started whether I wanted to or not, but I’ve been holding myself back by shifting my fear to medication. I finally connected I’ve been so stifled in everything because I’m terrified the medicine I am on is changing my brain.

When I started meditating, I saw colors. So many colors. It was like hanging out in a kaleidoscope. Now, I can tell you this is called a siddhi and means very little. Since I started the medicine, I stopped seeing colors. I’ve been worried about this for so long. Yet just last night, I asked that question: if Buddha was here now, would he take medicine to help with the journey?

The answer is: why do I care what Buddha would do? This is what I keep missing. At the end of the day, it’s only me that can move my feet on this path. Buddha may be a guide, Watts may be a guide, but I’m the only one who can choose. If I believe the medicine is hurting me, of course it will. Self fulfilling prophecies are reality. I take supplements and I take medicine. Why not both? Both help me. I have a stigma against myself with the medicine, and I’m tired of bullying me about it.

No sooner did I come to peace with this – after 1.5 years of struggling and fighting with this choice to medicate, I saw colors again. Brighter and more vivid then I remember before.

The Buddha taught me to stop fearing my mind by embracing the beauty of my mind. Meditation taught me how powerful all minds are. They can create beauty or suffering, depending on your focus. In each of us is this power to create or destroy our worlds. Most of us need to destroy before we learn to stop creating our destruction with the stories we tell ourselves.

Are you pondering similar questions? Let me know in comments, I’d love to pick some brains.

If there’s no solution, it’s not a problem.

The hardest part of any challenge is thinking about it. The way I see it, inside my mind is very small relative to the world. The world is expansive and limitless, but my skull isn’t. When I get caught in ruminating or anxious repetitive thoughts, it can feel like a cacophony in my head. And whatever problem

Seems so insurmountable, and I couldn’t possibly handle it.

The simple act of writing it on paper, saying it out loud, or just tackling the problem inevitably shows my problem was far bigger in my head than reality. The mind creates the problem, action always diminishes problems. Sometimes, I make a list of what I’m

Anxious about and I pick “low hanging fruit” i.e. the easiest thing I can do to handle something. And I work my way through it.

The most powerful thing I learned with my psychosis came from a random encounter:

If you don’t have a solution, then it is not a problem. Later, I found a Buddhist quote: “why worry? If you don’t have an answer; you cannot solve the problem, and if you do have an answer; your problem is solved!”

My mind loves to say can’t. I can’t handle this that or the other thing. I used to try to change it to can. The problem with can is, it’s still future state. I will and I am are much more effective in retraining the brain. I will do this, I am doing this. Your mind calms and becomes focused on the present as opposed to dancing in future and past.

But at the end of the day, suffering comes from thinking about problems. Life comes in action. Life, experience, love, God, and humans. We are all actions, not nouns. We are beyond words, so don’t let the words in your thoughts control your limitless potential. I will. I am. The two things to change your life.

Creativity and Anxiety

I’ve loved writing poetry since I was a teenager. I remember my parents sent me to a poetry workshop in elementary school and I was so excited to read my poems out loud. They told me I had a gift, and I didn’t really believe them. I only recently started writing poems again, and even then I struggle with telling myself I’m not good or whatever. It’s resistance from me to me. I get random inspiration constantly, and I can usually write a poem in less than 20 minutes. But I fight myself.

I am finally coming to understand how art works. If my focus is on me and my problems, I’m wasting my creative expression with creative oppression. The creativity is the same: i am either inventing a story about my life or I’m writing a story or a poem or whatever. I read somewhere anxiety is repressed creativity. Art lying inside of you that cannot come out so it creates anxiety.

This is what I do know: the more I have accepted myself, my life, my problems, and my successes, the more often I get random bits of poems that need to come together. This poem here is clearly about an ex and it was built around the line “your love is like rainbow sprinkles and I’m starving for a feast.”

The only way I know to connect with my heart and intuition is to take these bits and paint them into poetry and let whatever happen happen. The only way that happens is when I stop focusing on my bullshit stories and stare at the sky, or a tree, or meditate. Then I stop squandering creativity by inventing worst case scenarios and projection.

When you were a little kid, there was something you loved. Maybe it was singing, maybe it was writing, maybe it was coloring. It doesn’t matter. Find it again and give yourself time and space to do it. The changes that come from connecting with your creativity and inner child… it’s nothing short of magic.

Beautiful Lies – Fine White

At least it’s not a rash…

I’m at an interesting point in my mental health journey. One of my biggest problems with medications is always side effects. Lamictal and topomax gave me a drug rash. Lithium made me constantly tired and I gained 40+ pounds and didn’t notice much beyond more depression. Prozac gave me crazy anxiety. Abilify, haldol, seroquel turned me into a robot or almost drooling mess of drugged human.

Effexor is the only anti depressant I’ve “liked” and Latuda is the only mood stabilizer that hasn’t ruined my life. However, side effects are so bizarre. My jaw locks, my muscles have started randomly clenching and spasming, and I’m getting restless legs. I also have a weird neck/head jerky twitch. By now, I would have cold turkeyed off the drugs and argued I’m fine.

But I’m not fine. Without something, I can’t find a baseline. My moods swing so quickly, and not in an orderly fashion. I’m never manic or depressed, it’s both, anxious, and cleaning obsessively or freaking about cleaning because I can’t clean because I cant stay awake. I’m not doing anything or I’m doing everything or I’m having a panic attack about both.

With Latuda, I’m calmer. I respond more than I react. A lot of this is helped by meditation and yoga, but without medicine, I struggle to perform these things on my own which makes it all worse. But the side effects suck.

What doesn’t suck is my doctor, who is listening to me, confirming these are side effects and actually changing stuff around rather than telling me I’m wrong or just want to be manic all the time. The funny part is I guess all of this work to stabilize my moods is just to get me on adhd medicine. This past month wasn’t good. Lots of depression – more than usual. But I got through okay. I have a lot of stress right now – I am a mom of 3 lol. My life is crazy as a baseline.

But I’m not quitting the medicine. I promised myself after the psychosis I was going to figure this all out. My doctor is adding another drug to stop the side effects and either lowering the Latuda and increasing the Effexor or just increasing Effexor. There are a lot

Of benefits to taking these medicines and unfortunately I’m sensitive to medicine (ask me about my NyQuil experiences lol) so this is really hard.

I’m sharing all this because I think it might be helpful if anyone is struggling with doctors/therapy/medicine. A lot of doctors treat statistics, not people. Some of these side effects are rare, and because of that, many doctors are dismissive. Or, they say the benefits outweighs the drawbacks. But everyone needs to be really educated about their diseases and medicines. Reading side effects, tracking side effects, speaking intelligently about symptoms and frequency. Journaling is an amazing way to understand yourself and what’s going on with your body.

I usually read my journal for the past month and read a journal from an earlier time period (say 6 months to a year) before aby appointment. I can then tell if I’m improving or not, I can see where I was at before and where I’m At now, and how frequently these things are occurring. I track my period in my journal and I note every day I have it in my journal so I can see how the anxiety and depression was. I make notes on my moods and anxiety levels all the time. I note if I forgot a medicine and what happened. I’m my own psychologist kind of.

Because I know the drugs and my body, I’m able to be an active part of my treatment plan instead of just sucking it up and dealing with it. The muscle stuff I’m describing is a big deal. I could end up with long term problems like tardive Dyskinesia. It was because I started noticing these muscle spasms and took notes that I could talk about it with my doctor.

It’s never enough to just take the medicine. A journey of mental health is a journey of self awareness too. I’ve stopped medicine a lot because the side effects were too much and no one was listening. It took a lot of doctors to find one who did. The only difference now is I fight for me, I speak up for me, and I’m an open book with everyone especially my doctor. When i went to the mental hospital

The first time, all I said was I get sad and anxious sometimes. No mention of eating disorders, obsessive cleaning and other compulsions, I said my brain was telling me to hurt myself because I didn’t even know what intrusive thoughts were. Frankly, at that time, I didn’t know what was Wrong with me.

Now I know nothing is wrong with me, I just need support. I care about myself now, so I take care of myself.

I Cannot Worry About The Future if I Am Experiencing My Present

Right now I’m reminding myself frequently: I cannot worry about the future if I am experiencing my present.

That does not mean I don’t have thoughts or worries about the future. It simply means I redirect my focus to the present. In the mental hospital, I was taught a grounding exercise: identify things through the five senses. What do I see? Hear? Smell? Taste? Feel?

Not surprisingly, there are many types of meditation that teach this presence and mindfulness is taught as a way to connect with now.

I also learned positive affirmations in the mental hospital and from my psychologist. This is very similar to a powerful invocation called the Sankalpa, or your heart’s desire. You meditate quietly for a few moments, then allow something you want to arise from a place that transcends your thinking mind.

In any of these practices: grounding, mantra, Sankalpa, mindfulness, meditation, etc. gratitude is fundamental to reaching these states. Gratitude is a place that transcends the ego, the anxiety, and the depression because it places power outside of your thinking mind. If a few moments are taken to see and appreciate everything – good and bad – by acknowledging everything has happened to bring this moment, the ego becomes quiet, confused, and powerless. Gratitude helps with acceptance too. In my journey, being thankful for being bipolar taught me to stop fighting being bipolar. In any situation, I guide my focus to gratitude. Even the worst situations, I can still be thankful I’m breathing.

Once gratitude helps center, I can “hear myself think” better. This is when positive affirmation or Sankalpa helps. It’s a statement in the present of something you wish to accomplish. My first Sankalpa was “I am peaceful, loving, trusting whenever I am confused or upset” this arose as a need for me to shift because as soon as my moods did what my moods do, or depression made me feel worthless, etc. I question every decision I’ve ever made, doubt myself, and worry about my entire journey.

Pretty quickly, I saw this shift. I couldn’t say how specifically, but I started listening to myself and trusting myself more. I recited the Sankalpa after connecting with gratitude and repeated it three times. I also recited it before meditating and bed.

Right now, my Sankalpa is “I am love”. This has led me to stop getting into my head about the future and experience the present instead. Love is action, not a noun. It’s a dynamic, ever changing energy. Love is not clinging or fear, so worrying about the future is the opposite of love.

If these practices are of interest, hop on YouTube. There are guided meditations to set a Sankalpa, to connect with mindfulness, and gratitude practices. I do general searches and just pick whatever I feel pulled to pick. This helps to connect with intuition too. If the spirituality side of things feels weird, check out positive affirmations and I Am statements, mindfulness exercises for depression or anxiety, and try journaling 3 gratitudes daily. It’s the same, just different words and more or less talk of God.

Do things that resonate with you and you alone. Never force a practice that doesn’t resonate or force yourself to do anything a certain way because someone else does it. All the self help books, guides and all this have good intentions, but each of us walks differently with different feet, shoes, and baggage. Meet yourself where you are at and with what you want, and find the resources that support and work for you. At the end of the day, being in your life and experiencing your life now is what is important. Not the past, not the future.

Me vs. me

The most frustrating aspect of bipolar or mood disorders (including ADHD) is there are essentially at least two diametrically opposed personalities in your life. There’s the person who can handle it and the one who can’t. They’re both you, it’s not multiple personality disorder, but one you is on the ball and trying to improve and the other you is overwhelmed, anxious, and wondering how the hell to get half of what was done before done now.

This has been an ongoing battle in my life. When things are good, I’m on the ball, organized, house clean, and dotting all my lower case j’s. When things are not, I don’t even know where to start. I call it going down holes. It’s frustrating because as far as I can go up is as far as I can go down. Most of this year has been me trying to teach myself baseline. An area where I can manage and cope without too much pressure either way. Things that are easy on good weeks are difficult on not good weeks. I make commitments on good weeks that are impossible on bad. And then I have to dig myself out of the holes my moods can go to.

Buddhism taught me impermanence and to relieve myself of expectations. The largest part of my suffering was in comparing myself to myself and to others. I am not the person I was five minutes ago, let alone last week. This frees me to just do my best every day. It doesn’t matter what I did or didn’t do previously. It’s also okay to be overwhelmed, because I have a lot going on. Carving time to meditate creates space to just be and allow myself to be however I am without fixing me.

I am not my house or my to do list. Some days, I just need to cope with my Newtonian moods watching me go up and inevitably come down. Ram Dass said his stroke is a grace from God, because he finally learned to ask and receive help. He is paralyzed on his left side saying this is grace. I’ve been pondering his beautiful words for a month, and I agree.

Bipolar is my grace from God. If I had not gone into full blown psychosis, I would never have started asking for help. If I hadn’t started seeing my mood swings, irritability, and suffering, I would never have turned to Buddhism for help. I would have followed the path others laid for me, and never become me. I would have never accepted me. I would never have expressed me. I look at the weeks I go down in the hole as me just needing rest. Does it suck to have to dig out and try to get back to baseline? Sure. But I have a baseline now. I know when I’m off, and I know what to do when I’m off.

And I know how to ask for help now. I’m not ashamed for needing help. I am not ashamed that I can’t do it all. I’m not ashamed of myself. None of this would be possible without the grace of bipolar. My creativity, problem solving, personality, empathy, and compassion all come from being “batshit crazy” as I called myself before. There are kind of two or more me’s in here, and at least we’re all playing nicer in the sandbox. Even if I gotta pick up my slack sometimes.

I believe our greatest challenges are our greatest strengths. This becomes apparent when we stop fighting with ourselves and love the good, bad, ugly, and all in between.

Quiet Minds are Focused Minds

Coming off the last post I wrote, Pay Attention, I wanted to talk about meditation. Meditation is recommended for a myriad of mental health issues including ADHD, Bipolar Disorder, Depression, and Anxiety. The problem is that most of us do exactly what meditation will teach you not to do: we are trying to meditate, we are goal setting on meditation, or trying to achieve something. Meditation is doing nothing and being everything.

Sitting meditation is challenging. As soon as you start settling, your body will begin whining, your brain will attempt to focus on the whining and create new whining to go along with it. There’s lots of people who struggle with having thoughts about their thoughts, and this noisy charade goes on while they try to meditate.

Meditation will not necessarily silence the mind. In fact, I would go so far as to say, meditation will show you how futile it is to attempt to silence the mind. What you can learn from meditation, is more important: You Are Not Your Thoughts. You are observing your thoughts and focusing on your breath. Quieting your mind is more about not responding to your thoughts vs. not having any thoughts. The most noise in our brains come from us talking back to our thoughts with new thoughts. Meditation teaches to allow the thoughts to come and allow them to go without a response – like an unwanted dick pic from Tinder.

Meditation can happen while you are driving, cleaning, building a puzzle: it doesn’t matter where or how. The principle is to remain connected to your breath either by counting or by observing the natural flow of your breath without influencing it. The same rule applies to thoughts, they can be observed without influence, judgement, or an attempt to make it go away. A five minute meditation is as effective as 5 hours, because there is no race, deadline, or even finish line. Meditation is more effective when there is no goal or expectation. If there is a goal or expectation, then the left hemisphere of the brain is attempting to control, analyze, or add logic to a practice that is attempting to connect you with reality by simply being.

One of my favorite ways to meditate is using Yoga Nidra, or Yogic Sleep. This meditation is done laying down flat on your back with your arms spread out and feet apart, like savasana in Yoga. The biggest challenge in Yoga Nidra is remain awake. Yoga Nidra takes you to a bridge between your conscious and subconscious mind. YouTube has tons of guided Yoga Nidra meditations. This form of meditation is deeply peaceful and relaxing. The meditations can be as short as 10 minutes to over an hour. I typically do yoga nidra in the middle of the day when my energy is dipping, because this is a restorative meditation that will help with energy and calm.

In any form of meditation – walking, sitting, mindfulness, or yoga nidra, the aim is to help focus return. Right now, focus is very difficult, we’re all yanked around by so much stimulation and noise.  But by turning to meditation, it teaches how to utilize your focus by realizing you are the only person who can direct your focus, unless you are letting someone or something control you. Not only that, but old emotions, trauma, anxiety, etc. has space to come to the surface and be healed. There are so many forms of meditation, and the only way to know the best way to meditate is to find your personal style.

Finding your own path can be pretty nerve-wracking and confusing. Group meditations or guided meditations are helpful to start, because someone will help bring the quiet state with verbal cues. At the end of the day, though, only you know how it feels to be in your body and mind, and if you find a particular style of meditation to be frustrating, try something else. Meditation is about just being: not trying, not doing. Open awareness and complete allowing of whatever is just is.

I find now, if I don’t meditate at least once a day, I’m an irritable confused mess of a person. Some days, I can sit for 5 minutes, somedays it’s 50 minutes. It is irrelevant either way. There’s no gold medal for best meditator ever. The more important part of meditation is to practice consistently so you can find deeper states of relaxation and understanding.

By becoming aware of thoughts and emotions, there’s no further need to escape them. If anything, there is a need to express them and heal them. Often, whatever is disturbed on the inside robs focus and leaves us distracted and out of whack. Inner worries, fears, and feelings about self project in our lives and relationships, but meditation creates awareness, and by simply being aware, the situation is changed.

Sitting and doing nothing seems counterintuitive, but in reality, it will increase efficiency and focus. By focusing on breath, it’s easy to bring conscious breathing in any moments of stress or unhappiness. It helps align your focus to what you really want and your best path forward. It connects you with intuition. When our brains are so noisy, we almost never can hear the small voice guiding us from within. Meditation is a do not disturb button on life. It’s a mini vacation for life. So many of us cannot or will not disconnect from life to connect with themselves. This gives no chance for focusing on what is really happening in your body and mind. So often we blame externals for unhappiness, when in all likelihood, unhappiness is sitting within, but being projected on others.

TIPS FOR MEDITATION

  1. Create consistency. Pick a time you can sit quietly for a few moments.
  2. Create a space to meditate. Get a bolster or something comfortable to sit on. Try to find a quiet space, so that you will be minimally distracted while learning how to go inward.
  3. Light incense or a candle. A smoothing scent that you light right before you meditate. It will have a Pavlovian effect eventually, that when you smell that scent, you slip into meditation
  4. Try different forms of meditation to see what resonates
  5. Keep a journal and write any feelings, thoughts, etc. that came to you while meditating
  6. Begin meditation by cultivating gratitude – for good things and bad things, because everything brought you to the now moment, where you are perfect just the way you are.
  7. Don’t make meditation a burden, sit quietly for as long as you can, and stop when you stop.
  8. Don’t focus on what you did or did not get out of meditation, leave your expectations behind.
  9. Don’t judge or criticize your performance in meditation.
  10. Don’t give up. This is not instant gratification. This is a patient practice that can only deepen with consistency and time.