It has been a tough few months, bereavement is something that I wasn't really prepared for, but I suppose no-one is really ever prepared for it. Time passes though, and as much as the grief can sometimes overcome you, I am trying to get on with things and work hard to create a happy and fulfilling life.
There is something that I have discovered in recent times, however, that would impact on not just those grieving, but people in general who suffer from stress, depression, and anxiety. It's not rocket science, in fact it's something that is talked about often, in a particular sense, and it is something that we can all do.
(image via Flickr Creative Commons)
Now when I say be active I'm not just talking about being physically active - which is where most people go when they speak about it in articles and blogs etc - I am also talking about being mentally active, being task active, and being socially active. It is a matter of simply taking oneself out of your "monkey mind" (man I love that term, I remember reading it in a book about Buddhism!) and essentially forcing yourself to be in that present moment.
Now, I am going to be brutally honest here, I do struggle with the loss of my mum, and I find that she is always there, in my mind, a memory, a feeling, a word; she is there. I have found that this can lead to a feeling of almost being physically paralysed. I get so caught up in that memory, a wish, a sadness, that I can't seem to move past that point and actually maintain a forward movement. It is like being stuck in the memory, stuck in the past, as Thich Nhat Hanh says -
“Fear keeps us focused on the past or worried about the future. If we can acknowledge our fear, we can realize that right now we are okay. Right now, today, we are still alive, and our bodies are working marvelously. Our eyes can still see the beautiful sky. Our ears can still hear the voices of our loved ones.”
Bringing ourselves back to the present releases our fears and unlocks our potential.
How do I know this?
I have been experimenting on myself! This weekend it became clear as day to me, I was sitting on the couch with the television on, a half finished cup of tea beside me, my cross stitch sitting untouched on my lap, my mind wandering, my eyes glazed over. I felt paralysed, almost like if I actually got up to move I would break apart, feeling like if I got up and actually did something these memories of mum would disintegrate, that I would be dishonouring mum by forgetting about her for a moment.
Like an out of body experience I saw myself as I was in that moment, paralysed by the fear of grief, the fear of getting on with life without mum in it, the guilt that I had my life to get on with and mum didn't.
I also recognised that to unparalyse myself I had to move.
So I moved.
I got up and had a shower, I decluttered some clutter, I met up with friends for dinner, I worked on my newest ebook, I even picked up the cross stitch and did some stitching. I also had a cry, had a stretch, had another cup of tea ... but the point is I kept active, I kept moving, and with the physical movement comes the mental movement.
There are many articles out there that say "physical activity can help with your depression, anxiety, stress, so go for a run, get to the gym, go for a hike!"
Now I totally agree with this, when I went through a highly stressful time a few years ago I embraced a yoga practice and my yoga practice has now been going on for a year and a half and it has seen my through some really tough times, but what I have discovered is that it's not just exercise that helps, it's the just doing that gets you unstuck, unparalysed.
Have you ever felt that feeling of physical paralyses when a fear takes you over? What is in your arsenal of "just doing's" that you can draw on to unstick you?