Don't get too excited, course hasn't started yet.
However, I am one lucky lady. Because I enrolled within a certain time frame after receiving my course prospectus (kind of like an introduction handbook) I received an Enrolment Bonus. I received, free, a 21 Daily Meditation Program and a free Home Retreat download, which is a weekend's worth of guided meditations and spiritual practices, which I can either do of a whole weekend, or break down into small chunks. These are course extras which usually cost, so I'm feeling pretty special right now.
Reading through my 21-Day Program, something on the second page struck me and got me thinking. Those of you who follow my Instagram (@barbelldancer) may have seen my lyra post from earlier this week, where I mentioned having some trouble with my mental health, and I blogged about it recently too over in Straight Living. I'm on the up at the moment, I'm pleased to say, and it was this bout of recurring troubles that made me stop, reflect and realise I had two choices: I could either do something about it and change direction, or I could keep going in the same direction and know that this will eventually happen again.
If you know me, you will know which option I chose.
This was part of what led me to sign up to do meditation teacher training, but it is something I have been thinking about for a while now.
Anyway, page two of my guide had the following to consider:
Think about the kind of decisions do you make and how you communicate when you are feeling: overwhelmed, anxious, fearful, worried, desperate, alone, sad, annoyed, frustrated, exhausted, depleted and many more.
After reading through the author's list of what she did and how she communicated when feeling this way, I decided to do the exercise myself.
So, when I feeling like this I:
How unpleasant I must be to be around when I'm feeling like this!
Then on page three, there was a follow-up to consider:
Now think about the kind of decisions you make and how you communicate when you are feeling: clear, strong, healthy, focused, happy, connected, peaceful, supported, in control, empowered and energised.
And, you guessed it, I did this exercise too!
When I am feeling this way I:
I think I would like to hang out with me if I was feeling like this, rather than the first one.
But, the reality is, we don't feel good all the time, but even when we're not feeling good, it is helpful to try and keep up with our routine as much as possible, as long as it is not the cause of our misery.
Despite today's people living in a more and more individualistic way, people are social animals and we still have a deep tribal instinct: wanting to bond and share time with other humans. In times gone by, we didn't need to ask when we needed support or help because we were surrounded by others who knew and leaned in when we needed them. Now, in our individual world, we must ask when we need help, reach out for it, and it is often the fear of having that request rebuffed that stops us from making it in the first place.
Asking for help is really, really scary!
Not everyone is lucky enough to have a supportive family, friends they can turn to, or an understanding and stable employer who will give them time if they need it. Sometimes we feel so overwhelmed by life that we forget that we are in control of it. Yes, sometimes we need outside help - talking to a friend, finding a new job, speaking to a therapist, medication, ending a toxic relationship, moving back home - but we do have the capacity to heal and move forward. That is another reason for me to do this meditation course, as I want help to establish a daily practice and to learn skills that I can use in my daily life to help me remain in control. And, sometimes, shit happens, and there are things outside our control. The bus is running late, your car breaks down, it's pouring rain, you ate bad chicken by mistake, your pants ripped, you tripped over at the train station... so many events are outside our control, but if we can grasp in these moments something we can control, then we are much less likely to feel overwhelmed.
For example, you can't control the fact that your pants ripped, but you can walk into Big W and buy a new pair of cheap pants. You can't control the fact that it's pouring rain, but you can choose to go back inside and grab your umbrella (or get your gumboots and jump in the puddles!)
When we recognise that our emotions influence our decisions, we can take back some of the control we feel we have lost. Our emotions don't control us (although it sure feels that way sometimes!), we control them, but there's no harm in needing some help to get your hands back on the wheel.
I encourage you to have a go at the exercise I did above, reflect inwardly, and acknowledge that sometimes we feel bad and sometimes we feel good, but these feelings do not define us and we can take steps to move back into a more stable place.
I look forward to sharing more insights with you as I progress through my 21-Day Program and once my course starts.