How to Stay Happy When Others are Fighting

When the conflict of others does not directly involve me, am I able to stay out of it? At times, it is difficult to let the adults in my life fight their own battles. Also, it is harder to distance myself emotionally than physically.

Physically, I can go for a walk or a ride, sit outside, visit a neighbor, put on head phones and listen to relaxing music, or take a break from my surroundings in some way.

Emotionally, however, my thoughts obsess over the conflict, causing anxiety, depression and fear to overwhelm me.

If I am able to expel these thoughts from my mind in a constructive way, like talking about them with a trusted person who is a neutral party, the negative feelings leave me. Then I am able to detach with love from those waging amongst themselves.

I have the choice to try a different action; to walk a different path. Today, I can choose to know peace.

My True Self Is

My last post included a video about how those with mental illness have a body/mind sickness, not a “self” sickness. After reading some of the comments, I had some follow-up thoughts which I wanted to share here as well, for my own mental reminder and hopefully, for the benefit of others out there in Blogland.

What is our make up as “beings?” I believe the human or mortal part is made up of the mind and body, and the spiritual or immortal part is the “self” (a.k.a, the Divine, God, etc.) Thinking of it in terms of God, our Creator, connects all the pieces of the religious/spiritual puzzle for me.  I can’t quote the bible verses, but phrases like “the Great I am,” “be still and know that I am,” “what you do unto others you do unto me,” and “made in His image” all point to this “self” – the part that isn’t sick, the only part that really matters, because it is forever while the mind and body are temporary.

“We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.” ~ Teilhard de Chardin quotes (French Geologist, Priest, Philosopher and Mystic, 1881-1955)

As the Universe would have it, another blogger posted some relevant information just yesterday, from The Upanishad (introduced and translated by Eknath Easwaran.) The Upanishads are the oldest and one of the most universal of messages which inform us that there is more to life than the everyday experience of our senses – including our physical and mental illnesses!

Some excerpts from Indian Spirituality:

“The Self is one, though is appears to be many. Those who meditate upon the Self and realize the Self go beyond decay and death, beyond separateness and sorrow. They see the Self in everyone and obtain all things.”

“Control the senses and purify the mind. In a pure mind there is constant awareness of the Self. Where there is constant awareness of the Self, freedom ends bondage and joy ends sorrow.”

“The Self, pure awareness, shines as the light within the heart, surrounded by the senses. Only seeming to think, seeming to move, the Self neither sleeps nor wakes nor dreams.”

“When the Self takes on a body, he seems to assume the body’s frailties and limitations; but when he sheds the body at the time of death the Self leaves all these behind.”

Brahman is the infinite, supreme soul. Brahman is all-prevailing, and the visualized world is a tiny part of the same. Whatever we see or feel with other senses (as in Biology) is Divine Illusion or Maya, and is Asat or untrue. The Only Truth or Sat is Brahman. We, or our souls (Jeev-Atma), are infinite small parts of Brahma.

In Hinduism, Brahman (ब्रह्मन् bráhman) is the one supreme, universal Spirit that is the origin and support of the phenomenal universe. Brahman is sometimes referred to as the Absolute or Godhead which is the Divine Ground of all being. Brahman is conceived as personal (“with qualities”), impersonal (“without qualities”) and/or supreme depending on the philosophical school.”

That last sentence is what makes me completely baffled by so-called “religious wars,” because really, we seem to all believe in the same thing.  So, what are we fighting over? Semantics???  How sad!

Anyway, back to the “self.”  I have heard people greet one another with the word “Namaste.” I always thought it meant “peace to you” or something along those lines. Yesterday, however, when I was watching a video on The Light Way blog about Rapid Eye Technology, I learned the true meaning of namaste, which made for the third time in three days from three different sources that the same message of this “self” was delivered to me. I love when that happens. It’s like God frantically waving His arms over His head saying, “Are you hearing me??? Are you paying attention?”

According to Organic Spa Magazine,

“the literal translation [of namaste] is a little more nuanced and suggests that it is not a superficial gesture or word but has deep spiritual significance” such as:

“All sacred in me greets all sacred in you.”

“Honor the peace within.”

“The light in me honors and respects the light in you.”

“I bow to the divine in you.”

“The light in me recognizes the light in you.”

In order for these truths to help me cope with my mental illnesses, I have to continue searching and learning more about them. It’s a never-ending spiritual journey that doesn’t always “feel” good. I also have to talk about it with others, who understand, daily and honestly. And finally, I write a lot and create a lot of digital art (and some paintings) that reflect these truths, so that I am constantly reminding myself.  (btw, the digital art in this post is not mine but listed on elfwood.com as public domain.  Thank you to those creators.)

What beliefs do you have that help you cope with yourself as a person with mental illness?   How do you keep these beliefs in the forefront of your mind?  I would love to know.  Please share!

Writing Moment by Moment #26

Practicing mindfulness:

 

Sunlight reflects off of the hood
of a black car parked
across the street.

Naked tree limbs reach up
while wheat grass flutters
in the breeze.

I inhale winter’s crisp air;
exhale steamy puffs
of my own.

I hear cars zoom by
off in the distance; inside,
the washing machine
agitates clothes.

My finger tips are chilled
as is my nose while the sweetness
from a chocolate chip cookie
lingers on my palate.

The garage is cold yet, the sunshine
on the grass and street warms me.

White clouds blanket the blue sky;
they are still
like the thoughts in my mind.

 

This mindfulness exercise was a result of me sitting outside for less than five minutes. I can only imagine how much I would notice if I practiced mindfulness in all of my daily activities.

Mindfulness involves a conscious effort to observe what is through your senses (i.e., eyes, ears, nose, mouth, touch) both inside and outside of your body without giving any subjective thoughts, opinions, judgements, etc. nor attaching any emotions to what you observe.

In other words, everything that you identify through your physical senses is not to be tagged with thoughts such as “That is beautiful” or “This is awful” or “That makes me feel sad” or “That is so exciting!”

Give it a try and let me know what you experience in your moment.

Writing Moment by Moment #20

photo by Rantes

I stepped outside this morning and inhaled the clean, cold winter air – refreshment for my soul!  What moment are you grateful for today?

For more information on “Writing Moment by Moment” click here.

Codependent No More – Book Review

Codependent No More: How to Stop Controlling Others and Start Caring for Yourself
Melody Beattie, author of Codependent No More, How to Stop Controlling Others and Start Caring For Yourself, defines a “codependent” as:

one who has let another person’s behavior affect him or her, and who is obsessed with controlling that person’s behavior

She details specific examples from her personal experiences and those of others to connect with her readers and offers practical solutions to those whose lives are affected by a loved one’s negative, often destructive behaviors.

The dominant theme across Beattie’s solutions is a therapeutic tool called detachment, which she describes as a separation of ourselves from a person or a problem in a loving way.  To disengage mentally, emotionally, and sometimes physically from unhealthy people, from problems we cannot solve or ones that are not our responsibility to solve.  She goes on to say:

Detachment is based on the premises that each person is responsible for himself, that we can’t solve problems that aren’t ours to solve and that worrying doesn’t help.  We adopt a policy of keeping our hands off other people’s responsibilities and tend to our own instead.  If people have created some disasters for themselves, we allow them to face their own proverbial music.

Sounds like a tall order for a world that has its nose in everyone else’s business or a country, whose attitude is often one of pass the buck, point the finger at the other guy, and cover up or, worse, buy a way out of facing the consequences of one’s own actions.

So, does this mean we are to stop caring, helping, and loving?  Is this a barbaric, every-man-for-himself type of detachment?  Beattie says not:

(Detaching) means we learn to love, care, and be involved without going crazy.  We stop creating all this chaos in our minds and environments.  When we are not anxiously and compulsively thrashing about, we become able to make good decisions about how to love people, and how to solve our problems.  We become free to care and to love in ways that help others and don’t hurt ourselves.

Sounds great, doesn’t it? 
I thought so and my next thought was, “Where do I sign up?” 
Or better yet, “Where do I get a prescription for this detachment stuff?”
If only it was that easy…

Have you read this book?  If so, what did you think about it?

 

How to Meditate – Book Review

         How to Meditate: A Guide to Self-Discovery by Lawrence LeShan is a best-selling classic with more than one million copies in print.  Although, LeShan wrote this book over thirty-five years ago (in 1974), the benefits of meditation are needed now more than ever in our fast-paced, multi-multi-multi-tasking, high stress, latte-consuming society. 

        There are many ways you can meditate.  LeShan divides these ways into four different “paths,” as he calls them, which can each help you to achieve the same goals – less anxiety, better health, and a greater joy in living to name a few.  The paths are as follows:

1.  intellect
2.  emotions
3.  body
4.  action

        How to Meditate is a “practical instruction for anyone seeking inner peace, relief from stress, and increased self-knowledge.” I became interested in meditation several years ago when stress and anxiety started to negatively affect many areas of my life, including my sleep, my relationships, and my work.       

        Now, I meditate almost everyday for periods of five to thirty minutes. Even that little bit makes a huge difference in my anxiety levels and ability to calmly handle life’s normal stressors and even some of the big ones. 

        Do you use meditation as a way to cope with anxiety and/or depression?  How does it work or not work for you?

        Do we do things we don’t want to in order to please others? When we say “no” do we often feel guilty? Martyrdom is for saints. We are not saints. We are also not bad. We are sick and we are trying to get well.

        Unless we are doing for others for “fun and for free” we are harming ourselves as well as lying to ourselves and others about our motives for helping them.

        Today, I will give freely that which I can afford to give. I will not risk my physical, emotional, or mental health by saying yes when I want to say no or by feeling guilty for making my health my top priority.

Mental illness often runs in families.  Our parent or grandparent or other relative may have had or does have a mental illness.  Some of our family members may have been diagnosed and may be getting the treatment they need to recover while others may not.

When dealing with our family, whether they have a mental illness or not, they may hinder more than help our progress because of our deep emotional ties to them and theirs to us.  While they may love us, they may not know how or be unable to help us.

         Today, I will evaluate my support system.  I will call someone who is outside of my family; someone who can offer objective, unconditional support to me and I will know peace.

“Stress is nothing more than a socially acceptable form of mental illness.”  ~ Richard Carlson
 

          Often our symptoms are triggered by stress.  Although, the bigger stressors aren’t usually the ones that get us.  We may actually feel better in times of crisis.  It is the little stressors that seem to befuddle us; our day-to-day activities somehow become more overwhelming than a huge crisis might be.

          Crises are often short-lived.  Anyone can do almost anything for one day.  Daily responsibilities, on the other hand, are life-long.  And when we focus on the “life-long” part, we may feel like giving up.  Yet, there is another way – to stay in today.

          Today, I will fulfill my responsibilities to myself first and next, to those around me to the best of my ability.  I will focus on my tomorrows when they become my todays and I will know peace.