Posts Tagged ‘insights’

From frustration to acceptance

The experience of being me is challenging sometimes.

It’s challenging after spending a weekend reeling from sensory input and having to slow way down.

It’s experiencing intense overwhelm and heaviness after trying a healing technique — one that others are praising and saying how good they feel afterwards and how much it benefits them.  I try it, and it feels like so much. Too much?

It’s my thoughts that “other people aren’t experiencing this,” and “Why is this happening again?”

And perhaps many people are not, maybe not specifically sensory processing issues or other sensitivities, but, as my Aikido/Tai Chi instructor reminded me on Tuesday night, everyone has limitations of some sort that they have to honor, and also reach their “too much” point at times. He said that being at the edge often means learning, and going over can lead to burnout or injuries.

I sometimes really want things to be easier, simpler, more relaxing for me. Not to get exhausted, even from doing things that I want to do. Not finding it challenging to be in my body at times and stay anywhere close to grounded.

And then, there’s returning to acceptance. There’s softening towards myself. There’s having a vulnerable moment after Aikido that opens up a conversation and other people sharing vulnerabilities.

 I realize that often when I feel overloaded and scattered, I often interpret it as I’ve done something “wrong.” And maybe whatever I did was too much for my system at that particular moment, but it may not need that strong of a label. My nervous system is giving me a signal that I need to slow down, back off. That requires honoring myself, pausing, and resting. It does not require a label or a value judgment. Once in a more grounded place, I can have more perspective about that experience and think about what to consider in the future regarding that activity. Experimenting and finding that that activity was too much at that moment doesn’t require chastising myself for wanting to see what it would be like. It may be an opportunity to give myself space and to learn from that experience.

I have done so much work the past few years around creating a life that more fully honors my sensitivities and limitations. I have so much more respect for myself and what I need. I still have moments where I get frustrated, where I want to do more, be more, and where I want to push through.  I also have more moments of acceptance, of giving myself space to be how, where, and who I am. I’m taking this moment to honor and acknowledge all of this.

Trying out the movement forms: Contemporary Dance.

Nia is based on the energies and movement forms of the dance arts, healing arts, and martial arts.
I have been curious if trying out some of these movement forms individually would help me gain insight and more body awareness in my Nia practice, and possibly help me on the whole. The dance arts include modern dance, jazz dance, and Duncan dance. In January, I tried a contemporary dance class.

I had taken a few modern dance classes before, but it was more of a sampling: a few in sixth grade, a lesson as part of my Dance History course in college, and a class with my expressive arts movement teacher.

The contemporary dance class I took over a month ago was the first I’d taken since before I started taking Nia classes. I vaguely remembered my experiences before: it was sometimes challenging for me to feel fluid and present in the moves. I remember feeling self-conscious as I moved across the floor.
This time around, I was in better physical shape and could keep up better. When the teacher talked about the 8-count, I could hear it in the music. I have more body awareness.

We started with a 20-minute warm-up. I realized then that while I could keep up to a certain extent, I wasn’t in that kind of shape. I haven’t done that kind of intense conditioning, at least not consistently. Also, a big part of the class was learning a section of a routine. Since it was a mixed-level class, there were varying degrees of skill and experience. I felt like I was straining to keep up.  Also, I’m still not that familiar with modern dance/ballet terms.

Nia allows more freedom; this dance class required more precision. Having to learn parts of a routine within a short period of time also makes it feel more performance-based. Nia involves more simultaneous leading and following; this class involved a demonstration, trying it out, more demonstrating, and trying it out again.

Overall, I care less than I did before about whether I do things right or wrong. I know from my experience in learning Nia routines that repetition is key, and sometimes I will repeat movements again and again and again until I get it, and sometimes that’s after many times of fumbling. I have to throw away thoughts of good or bad and be with what is. My perfectionist tendencies can get in the way of moving freely, so I often acknowledge the thoughts and then push them to the side and continue moving. Overall, this meant that I was less hesitant about trying the movements. I was still somewhat self-conscious, but I went into it and did the best that I could.

I would say that that particular class wasn’t the best fit for me. If I could find a beginning contemporary/modern dance class, that might be more my style. It would be ideal for me begin closer to the beginning, to be able to keep up more easily with others in the class. What I did take away was that more warm-up and conditioning could be helpful for me in my regular movement practice.

Recognizing my experience of depression in the pages of the DSM-V

A few weeks ago, my assignment for my Abnormal Psychology class – choosing a disorder and writing about it from a specific therapeutic perspective – gave me a reason to look through the DSM-V, the latest version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. I went to the local library, sat down with their reference copy, and flipped through the pages. I skimmed the criteria of different disorders, searching for one that might seem intriguing, but not too triggering or something that I have directly experienced.

Major Depressive Disorder did not meet my second requirement; nonetheless, I stopped skimming and read through the criteria. And as I read, I recognized that two and a half to three years ago, I met nearly every point of the criteria, line by line. Part of me suspected this, but I hadn’t looked it up, not even in my old copy of the DSM-IV that I’ve had for years. If the page had been a checklist, it would have been full of check marks.

On one hand, the realization was sobering: I was severely depressed. That’s scary and serious.

On the other hand, I can also say that it’s factual, it’s true, and that reading the criteria simply confirmed what I already knew. I had a depressive episode, the worst I’d ever had. I acknowledge that before I experienced that episode, I likely struggled with mild depression, or dysthymia, on and off for years, perhaps since I was a teenager.

Alternately, I can also look at it like this: I was severely depressed. I went back to my hometown. There, I got the help and support I needed. I don’t know if I can say that I am necessarily better off because of my depression, but the support I got helped me get to where I am today. I like and appreciate my life now.

There is also something validating in seeing what I experienced written in words on a page. It tells me that other people have experienced this, that people have researched it, that treatment continues to be looked at and further developed.

I do recognize that a diagnosis is primarily a measurement used for medical, prescriptive, and insurance reasons. It isn’t consistently a defining factor in my life; at this point, the main thing is that I take two pills each morning. I also keep better track of my moods and I regularly use skills to deal with challenging situations and emotions.

I remind myself that I don’t have to make too much meaning out of the pages of the DSM; it’s a reference manual used in certain contexts. I know that if I experience and recognize the symptoms of depression again, I am more equipped to deal with it. I am therefore less likely to experience another major depressive episode. And that’s what really matters to me.

Update.

I have several half-written posts, but they never seem to settle into full entries. So maybe I’ll start with summaries/snapshots of what I’ve been doing. Perhaps I’ll follow up on some of them in the future.

My love and I recently started taking Tai Chi and Aikido classes with an informal dojo. I’m hoping to deepen my perspective on these two martial arts, especially since they are two of the three martial arts forms/energies used in Nia. I’m really enjoying seeing my husband fall in love with the martial arts, which he’s always wanted to do, seeing him get more connected with his body. It’s also nice to have an activity outside our apartment we can do together.

I’m dealing – and sometimes wrestling with – with being a beginner in Tai Chi and Aikido as well as a beginning Nia teacher. I’m working on recognizing that it’s important and necessary to be exactly where I’m at, even though it can feel incredibly intimidating and vulnerable at times. I’m figuring out ways to cheerlead and encourage myself through it. In the end, what’s most important is to keep going.  It seems like I’m doing a lot of personal growth through movement forms. They are teaching me a lot in terms of discipline, confidence, patience, and so much more.

I’m also a beginner at proofreading legal transcripts. I am in the middle of an online course so I can learn how. I’m hoping it can be a way to bring in some income in the near future. While I’ve always been good at catching errors, this is challenging and taking my skills to a new level. It’s also taking a lot of review of rules of punctuation, capitalization, etc.

I’m taking an abnormal psychology class at the local community college. I’m enjoying it, and I’m also appreciating a reason to get out and do things two mornings a week. Grateful that I still had money from my AmeriCorps education award so I could take a class or two.

Since I take evening movement classes two nights a week and sunset is falling around 5:30 or so, I’ve gotten to see some incredible sunsets. Sometimes in the winter, we get actual rainstorms; more often, we get incredible clouds, which often make the sunsets stunning.

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I just had a birthday. I’m now 34. My year of being 33 was very full, and included the major transitions of wrapping up many things in New Mexico, getting married, and moving to Nevada. The day of my birthday was lovely. It included Tai Chi, a walk, a chocolate and vanilla ice cream cake, and dinner at a Persian restaurant.

I am starting to feel more settled here. It’s definitely a process. Some days, I feel more landed; other days, I feel so new. New to this place, new to experiences. I remind myself that feeling new isn’t a bad thing, that there is no rush to feel or be a certain way in my new surroundings. In my quiet moments, when I can ground myself and listen in, I recognize that being where I’m at, here and now, is a good place to be.

Evolving perspective (stream-of-consciousness poem)

I began this soon after the election in November, and it’s been sitting in my drafts folder for a while. I finished it this past weekend.

**
We categorize and decide what is and should be
these broad sweeping labels cross borders and state lines
dividing this from that, us from them,
and we find ourselves pointing our fingers at each other

We go on defense
I’m not like that, I’m not like them,
It’s you who is pointing the finger, not me

Maybe all our fingers are pointing at someone
Maybe we want an explanation, a rationale,
someone to applaud, someone to blame

When we generalize,
we can cut others down to

less than life-size.

It’s hard to be part of the problem and
part of the solution,
our cells are divided and our selves are
torn and
our communities are split into
many
different

pieces.

Sometimes, we turn away from
each other even
when we literally stand
side-by-side.

I don’t know
if i can tell you that
it’s always best to turn to each other
when we’ve got our boxing gloves on

I want to say:
Put the gloves down first, then listen.

What if we aren’t really fighting each other
but a system
that keeps us separate, apart
the words unify and compromise
don’t go very deep
when they’re used to
pacify, console,
cajole, silence.

We are a nation of many people,
interests, and opinions.

We are a nation of many communities,
individuals, identities.

Perhaps we have many definitions of what
freedom means,
whether freedom opens doors for free thought
or guarantees security
and safety from what?
the world outside our neighborhoods
an existential threat
a real life danger
the story changes with each teller

I want to be realistic without losing
my idealism, but it’s hard to live the
everyday reality where rights are
peeled away, day by day.

I tell myself to breathe,
take care,
take small steps.

Another day, another headline, with
more fears brought to light.
I watch the protests, the brave souls
on the front lines

I want to say
I am ready and willing to fight.
I see people comment about
the best way to stand up:
what and when and how and where…

I pick my battles, follow my own rhythm.
I pick up my pen
and begin.

My daily “what I did” list

One of the biggest myths I have is that I’m not doing enough.

It’s also very untrue. While I don’t have a typical 9-to-5 work schedule, I keep myself busy. There are many things I’m working on and towards, and I’m rarely bored.

So, as part of my routine of unwinding and getting ready for bed, I’ve started doing a “what I did today” list. It helps me see what I’ve done and accomplished throughout the day. I also sometimes write notes to track my anxiety levels, sensory triggers, and moods so I can look back and see if there’s a pattern.

I suppose I could call this a form of a bullet journal (more information on bullet journals here ), which is like a combination of a planner and a journal/diary. Overall, it’s a method of writing things down, whether it’s goals or thoughts, in short, bullet-point form. Before starting this practice, I didn’t spend much time researching bullet-journaling, but it is a something that I’ve heard that many people enjoy. .

Here’s an example from my journal from a few weeks ago (I made slight edits to put it more into context):

  • Took L (husband) to work
  • Brief call with Mom
  • Nia
  • Lunch
  • Got mail and some sunshine
  • Took short nap/reset
  • ~ 3 hours proofreading practice
  • ~ 1 hour workbook punctuation practice
  • Made dinner
  • Picked L up
  • Did Dishes
  • Took one online survey
  • Nia song review (listened and watched, then tried)
  • Did rhythmic movement and reflex exercises

It’s sort of like writing a to-do list after the fact. It gives me perspective. It helps me think of other things I might need to focus on in the days ahead. It helps me value the small, day-to-day activities more, such as making a meal or having a conversation with my love.

At the end of the day, when I ask myself, “Did I do enough?”, seeing this list helps me feel more assured that the answer is, without question, “Yes.”

The sanctuary of mornings

I’m a morning person in the sense that I enjoy mornings.

I used to imagine morning people as being bright, cheerful, perky, and outgoing in the mornings. In college, these were the friends or acquaintances who would greet me with a bright and sweet, “Good morning!” as though they had rays sunshine oozing out of their pores. (Now, there’s a mental image.)

I used to not consider myself a morning person because of the above idea. I later decided that I was a different kind of morning person.

I prefer to keep my morning time to myself, preferably by myself. When I lived in a communal house, I relished getting up before everyone else. I’d meditate and do yoga when the house was quiet. I’d look out the third-story window, out to the next-door neighbor’s house, down to the garden, where the soft light was hitting the plants. There was – and is – something so peaceful, almost magical, about claiming that time as my own.

I wrote the above words earlier this week and had the realization that I hadn’t been getting enough quality morning time recently. Somewhere in the transition of moving and settling in, I’ve disrupted my tendency of waking up early. During the week, I’ve been sleeping until my husband’s alarm goes off at 7:30 a.m., and then we’re both awake and have to get moving. I love being with him in the mornings before he goes to work, but I want to treasure the time before.

So I decided to make a conscious shift:  Friday, yesterday, I set my alarm to 7:00 a.m. I ended up waking up a little before then. I got up, made myself a cup of tea, and took the time to meditate and stretch. I gave myself time to savor the morning, with myself, by myself.