Friday, May 6, 2011

Lean in to it.

I think it was in the fall or early winter of 2003, I was sitting at my computer playing Ultima Online desperately trying to escape and resist yet another crushing anxiety attack. I remember feeling it coming on earlier in the day. I worked 3-11 shift at that time and it was my day off.

I had taken all the xanax I could safely take along with the other antidepressant meds I was on. To say I was an emotional mess would be like calling a tornado a windy day. I was a real mess. The medication and the counseling helped some but I was not getting better. My life circumstances were dire almost to the point of being desperate. I won't go into the reasons now..suffice to say I was just a mess. Along with the medication I also practiced meditation and Reiki but today I just could not settle enough in my self to do this.

Ok, back to where I was...sitting at the computer, trying to ignore the shakes, rising nausea and the pounding of my heart up in my throat. My best friend (adopted sister..she is way more than a best friend) walked in through the side door into the kitchen. She walked in the living room and saw me. She knew without asking what was happening.

I just said to her, "It's really bad and the xanax isn't working." She started to give me Reiki and then stopped and said, " Just lean into it." And while she was talking my "Inner Guidance" cut through the crazy unstable energy coursing through me this cartoon in my head of a tree trying to get away from the wind. All the time my sister was talking trying to explain this. What I caught after this crazy cartoon in my head was her last words, " I think you should stop trying to resist it." At that moment something happened and I realized I was trying to get away from it and I was resisting it. All of a sudden I could see how resisting this gave it a stronger hold on me. Just for a few seconds I gave into it. Stopped resisting and imaged myself leaning in to it.

At first I was so wild with some unnamed choking fear I could only do it for a second or two but that was enough for me to realize there was something to this. I deliberately and mindfully willed myself to just let go to it. And I feel it easing the pressure inside me. My heart stopped its uneven clattering in my chest, the shaking stopped, the nausea faded and the only thing left were what felt like beams of wild energy coursing through me.

The discomfort remained but the other awful things that went with it..went away. I don't remember a lot of what else happened after this on that day. I remember feeling such gratitude and a measure of relief from the torment I was in. My mind and heart swirling with the conflicting ideas of surrendering vs resistance. I remember spending the rest of the evening talking to my sister about this.

After that I started to use this regularly whenever I felt the beginning of one. It was successful enough I no longer needed the xanax. These "panic episodes" stopped inspiring terror in me.

Soo I had so much success with this I decided to try leaning in to other kinds of emotional pain I was dealing with. My life had taken such a devastating, exhausting and just plain scary turn in 1996 it affected all parts of me.

There were mornings when I woke up that my heart felt just broken. I would wake up and this terrible sorrow would grip me. I tried to override it, meditate out of it. Anything to stop the horrible pain. Well I tried, "Leaning in to it." And how I did this (with the help of my Inner Guidance who gave me the idea)..I would stay in bed, get tissues...and let myself feel what I felt and cry until there was no more tears left. Then I would reward myself with a soak in the tub, a cup of coffee, lay in the bed and read or meditate. The first times I did it was for almost two hours. But the deal I made myself was this. This is the crying time..get it out and then it's done for the day. And my days were better. I slowly began to feel better.

The time I took for this went from 2 to 3 hours to 1 hour ..down to 30 minutes over a period of a year and then I didn't need to do it everyday. I decided to make it like a formal ritual to reinforce the idea that this is the time for sorrow and then I spend the rest of the day living in the now. I set an alarm, lit candles and let it rip. Then when the alarm went off it was done. Time to baby myself with a hot bath and a cup of tea. Or chocolates or a good book.

Now I know this sounds silly and so childish but I don't care. It saved me. It saved me from a life of pain and bitterness. This time taught me to nurture myself and it was the beginning of my path of "Acceptance".

Whew..that was exhausting talking about those times. It kind of made my heart ache to think of those memories. I gotta go meditate and "Lean into it".

Ok, I am back. Now where was I? The beginning of my road out of the "pit".

I will summarize what I learned from this that I use today for everyday discomforts.

First I sense some uncomfortable anxiety, fear, anger etc... I then go through "The Formula" that my Inner Guidance gave me a long time ago to aid in proper handling of emotions.

First is the stimulus (what happened prior to these feelings rising. It could be rain, a phone call, a passing thought etc). How am I perceiving the stimulus..and then how am I interpreting it.
How am I responding inwardly and what is my physical reaction.

This helps me NOT to grab on to anything around me to blame for my discomfort. It just is. That's how I process it now.

Next I deliberately open myself to it. Allow myself to feel the discomfort and mindfully be aware enough to not resist. That makes it so much worse.

Then I acknowledge that I am feeling the sadness, anger, anxiety, fear or whatever it is. I don't try to find reasons for it or pin it on an event or person or situation. It just is. Because what I know now is that anything can trigger these feelings at anytime. We all have so much repressed and buried garbage shoved down inside us..sometimes the most innocuous things will trigger it to rise out of the pit of hidden garbage in us.

I Reiki myself while I take a few minutes to observe and acknowledge my discomfort. I try to concentrate on the sensations and not allow my mind to start it's derogatory or blaming chatter. In a kind way I do this. Because the other thing I learned was to be as kind to myself as I would expect a good empathetic friend to be to me.

Now this is no magic wand that you wave and it all goes away. No, the discomfort is still there but manageable...and I am finding if I stay with it, good things are hidden behind the discomfort.

This is an ongoing process and part of the human condition is we will never be free from our emotions and discomfort. But it gives me the sense that I am participating in my own healing. I am actually controlling my emotions by acknowledging them and processing them respectfully. Not shoving them down inside myself and not dealing with it.

Enough Enough! I am confusing myself.

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