Day 18: Mindfulness and meditation

This title has been sitting as a draft article here for three weeks now! I felt like I couldn’t write about it until I had some magical meditational breakthrough to write about, until I realised that’s not happening any time soon. What has happened is a sudden explosion of community related tasks in the run up to Christmas so that my job has completely – happily – engulfed my time and I have found myself running about the town on various missions of festive frivolity that I have had no time for anxiety, and much less time to explore ways to overcome it.

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Day 15: Laughter

My research is proving to be more and more fun! In my alphabetical adventure this one is next. I don’t need to list my sources of hilarity this week, as there are a million entries for ‘comedy’ on youtube that you can access at anytime, which I recommend doing because as we all know, laughing makes you feel better. After an hour or so of any of my heroes of hilarity like Sarah Millican, Eddie Izzard, or James Acaster, I can actually feel the difference in my relaxed muscles, improved breathing and general lightness about my shoulders.

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Day 11: Gratitude

This one is so lovely. And easy. And makes me so happy.

I read about the benefits of gratitude ages ago, so I started writing my thank yous at the end of each day. The idea is to find at least five new things to be grateful for each day, and either write them down or say them out loud. Even on the shittiest days I found there was always something to be grateful for, even it was ‘Thank you that we have a soundproof ladies room at work so I can have a proper cry before the policy meeting,’ – not resoundingly joyous, but still something. I found that on the worst days I would try harder to find positives so I got quite good at finding little snippets of good in amongst the bad, and I found that really comforting. It’s like when we were kids we were told before we could say something mean about someone we had to first say ten nice things, after which that one hurtful thing would sort of lose its power.

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Day One: understanding where anxiety comes from

I woke up at six am, proper excited about day one of my new course! And sat there in the dark for nearly an hour wondering where exactly I was going to start. It’s like I had promised a curriculum of 21 lessons and my single student (me) arrived at class and we’re both delighted with the clean blackboard and new notebooks but we haven’t actually got a lesson plan.

So the first hour was spent brainstorming all my ideas, so that I now have a neatly alphabetised direction to follow for the next three weeks – packed with a diverse range of subjects including Gratitude, Cold Showers and Radical Forgiveness – but before delving in, today will start with the question of what is actually going on in my brain and why it keeps doing what it so masterfully does to keep me in fear.

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Do not subscribe to those thoughts

So in an effort to still my scrambling mind, I turned to YouTube, my old friend and advisor, who knows me so well. Even the adverts he shows me are about wellness and meditation. And tonight YouTube tells me to watch this interview with Mooji. Yes I think I need to get a bit transcendental today.

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Droplets

At the end of my meditation, I like to imagine a lovely bright light from the universe filling my body. It’s a nice visual process of mentally cleaning out and strengthening myself for the day.

Today when I imagined this, it sort of surrounded me with an aura of white light, and formed the shape of a droplet around me, sitting crosslegged on the sofa. And it reminded me of what Chidi says in The Good Place, about being drops of water in a wave. We exist for a short time as our own unique droplet, and then we merge back into the sea. And I saw myself as a tiny drop of rain falling out of the sky. Next to millions of others in this particular rainstorm. And it is as if we have this few minutes after we’re formed in the cloud, to fall out of the sky, experience the magic and beauty of life, hurtling through the air along with the others, before we meet the ground, sea, tree, car park where all the other drops have gathered and we merge and flow into our next manifestation.

And how ridiculous is it that we spend our fleeting flight bickering, comparing, being jealous of, scared of, feeling judged by or misunderstood by the other drops. Who cares?! Just enjoy this short time, make the most of it, fly with drops who make you happy and stop trying to change those who don’t.

Because none of it really matters anyway, we’ll just all merge back in a puddle, in a water system, in the sea.

The beauty of conflict

I had to call my counsellor again on Monday. I would have normally dealt with the anxiety and overwhelm on my own but because my job required me to attend the Monday night meeting, I needed to quickly tidy up my spinning head before 7pm. We had a ten minute call in which I breathlessly explained that things were getting really tense at work, there was a lot of conflict and hurt around, and I was scared of attending this meeting in which I’d be stuck in the middle of it all. She very gently got me to slow down and speak clearly, and asked me why the conflict was bothering me.

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2.39 am

I suppose I should just accept it, enjoy it even. Set my alarm for 2am, make a cup of tea and settle down for the inevitable hour of drama after the pub kicks out. As the sun set over another warm July evening earlier, I looked at the people setting out for the evening and knew it would be a loud one.

The initial fear and apprehension as crowds gather, swaying and swearing, turns to fascination at the dynamics of a drunk crowd. A fight is taking place a little away from the crowd, people watch and laugh. The doorman moves towards them and one eventually walks off, shouting back his defensive ‘yeah fuck you!’ the whole time. Someone is carrying a woman on his shoulders. The others look on amused, as he walks off, and places her down on the pavement so they can walk together. Couples under the tree and more interested in each other and some dancing and giggling is taking place. I try to image their excitement, their euphoria to finally be out, their need to shout to each other, to the whole of Melksham, I’m alive! And their inability to consider the few dozen of us that would prefer to be alseep a few metres away from them.

By 2.30 most of the immediate crowd has gone, I watch them disperse, very slowly, and other little groups form further down the street. The daytime features of beautiful hanging baskets and flags of civic pride adorn the brightly lit street, punctuating the spaces where groups of people now stagger, shouting, laughing, swearing, screeching. It’s another 20 minutes until I can try to sleep again, with just the last few shrieks of ‘fuck you! You’re nasty!’ drifting up through the window.

Togetherathome

My partner has a friend from school who is a musician in Cornwall. Since March, and since he is a musician, Helm De Vegas has been doing live stream shows from his piano at home, three nights a week, and we have been tuning in at 7pm every time. His incredible skill on the piano, his fabulous singing voice and his quick-witted hilarious interaction with his online crowd have kept us coming back every time.

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