As I sit here in the wee hours of the morning, all I am thinking about how I am suffering. Then this feeling of warmth and love wash over me and I remember something I once said to my students, "Mindful Self-C.A.R.E is a choice every single moment of the day. We can either choose to nurture, nourish and empower ourselves through mindful Self Compassion, Appreciation, Respect and Encouragement, or we can be victims of circumstance and suffer."
There are days, many days, where it seems easier to simply choose to ignore the choice of practicing Mindful Self C.A.R.E. To follow the path of least resistance because it seems to take less energy and because it’s familiar. But just because something seems easier doesn't mean it is, and just because it is familiar, doesn't mean it's beneficial to me. Toxic relationships are familiar, but they aren't necessarily beneficial. Speaking to myself with compassion, appreciation and understanding are very soothing and nurturing. They are encouraging and give me strength. Much better than the now familiar self-criticizing, self-judging and constant competition with my old self and with more able-bodied people. Words of Compassion are something that I often desperately need in moments of despair. A simple word or phrase to myself such as,”I’m safe”, “I can do this” or “ I’m allowed to slow down and honor my needs” can make all the difference between struggling and suffering or adapting and acknowledging my accomplishment. It honors and respects my unique needs, my unique body and my unique life. Words of compassion can even be a gentle reminder of the story of the turtle and the hare, with an encouraging reminder to myself that "I got this-my way". Which may feel like I'm are lying to myself at times, but is actually a mindful choice that when acted upon, builds my confidence, sparks new neural connections and pathways in the brain, allows for positive growth, and, I'm discovering, offers the body permission to let go of the pain it may be holding onto and has trouble letting go of.
I have been needing to re-learn how to implement Mindful Self-C.A.R.E into my life again. What was once second nature, is now something that is a bit alien to this new version of me. Sure I know the steps, I know the paradigms to a more fulfilling life, I created them twenty years ago. But applying them right now, in this brain fogged, pain-filled and anxious state that has been inconsistent and unpredictable can seem challenging. So I've started with a few small steps, in a few small areas, to make it easier to make it a habit again.
One of the simple ways I have been learning to welcome in some Mindful Self-C.A.R.E again, is waking up in the morning and choosing to grab a glass of water before the coffee. It hydrates the mind, wakes it up after being dehydrated all night long and helps it function more efficiently. By mindfully drinking my water or my coffee. and maybe enjoying the smell even before taking a sip, noticing the color, the temperature as it enters my mouth, and the taste on my tongue as well as the sensation it gives me in my body, offers me an opportunity to welcome in enjoyment and pleasure. Something many of us in the TBI community (and in the invisible disability community) don't often get. And actually, choosing herbal tea instead of coffee is also a choice of mindful Self-C.A.R.E since it's both hydrating and warming to the soul, as well as calming to my nervous system.
I am reminded that Mindful Self-C.A.R.E doesn’t have to be grand choices or momentous moments. Simply something that is integrated in my life already, with a more positive twist. So instead of cursing the cars that go by my house and vibrate the bones in my head causing me pain, I can exhale loudly, plug my ears and say to myself, "letting them go by. Letting them go by", and then just let them go, instead of holding onto the pain and suffering as much. When I am at a doctors appointment, instead of giving over all my power to the doctor, I advocate for myself by listening to my gut. Trusting my body to let me know if the doctor's recommendations would be a good fit for my body and my healing, or if another alternative would be better by simply asking what other options are there, or what experience do you personally have with this diagnosis. They may not like being challenged, but it is empowering to have the ability to know what is true and right for you in any given moment. And learning to listen to and trust the innate wisdom we are all gifted with at birth is powerful.
Instead of lying in bed awake and due to anxiety, I can lay there and practice alternate nostril breathing, or do a few mindful and restorative yoga poses in bed or on the floor. Maybe I have a soothing bath with some aromatherapy and Epsom salt or I place my hand on my belly and ask myself “What would nourish and nurture me down to my soul right now?”. Then the first answer that arises, through a feeling an image or a quick thought-just do it- without debate or question. Our body's never lies to us. The mind is the manipulator. And the more I check in with my body and follow through with what it says it needs, whether it is a certain food, therapy, life choice, relationship or whatever- I am practicing Mindful Self-C.A.R.E. Because I am honoring my unique needs.
Mindful Self-C.A.R.E has already proven to me that it is essential to my healing. It proved it twenty years ago when I was first created the program for myself when I couldn't find the kind of help I was looking for to help me heal the toxic relationship I had with myself, then was eventually able to help others do the same. Now it has evolved to adapt to help me heal my experience with this TBI/PTSD and I am learning exactly how essential it is to THIS journey of healing. Not just physically, but emotionally, mentally and spiritually as well. It turns on my ability to advocate for myself, to be more self-sufficient in my own way, to be resilient; to reset, rest and digest all of my life experiences and my food, to cultivate a relationship with the person I am now, and let go of some of the anger. My life may never be the same as it was, but then again a caterpillar, once changed into a butterfly can never go back either.
Information contained within this site does not take the place of professional medical care. It is for educational purposes only and created with the intention of offering support and empowerment to women struggling to find wholistic and natural answers to their challenges. Every individual is responsible for their own actions, choices and behavior.