Monday, 17 August 2015

Mindfulness in a Divorce Part I

SO, HO, HO... how did mindfulness become my "go to" when divorcing life got tough for me. Those mornings waking with THAT rock cosily tucked into my solar plexus, my mind full of juggling thought balls and my faithful mind monkeys partying day and night, how did mindfulness find its incredible way through the scary unknown? 

A very thoughtful, kind friend handed me - John Kabat-Zinn's Full Catastrophe Living and one day, after dropping my children off at school, the reality hit of another day of The World of Divorce and I took to my bed. Feeling embryonic and safe, I started to read, words that allowed me to understand the potential of mindfulness to be the salve to my emotionally supercharged life. 

I dipped into chapters that resonated, the words soothing fears of the future, actions of the past and what was offering itself to me during this present moment, in my bed, a safe place. Glimmer of Hope shimmied up and waved at resident Agitation, (a player in "unknown and scary single parent world ") and acknowledged Responsibilities unhappily holding hands with Divorce and all these aspects convening on a simple method of mentally changing your brain for the betterment....

The monkeys scattered unhelpful thoughts such as "YOU are too stressed", "YOU don't have time" and "can YOU even meditate?" BaHaHaHa they laughed........ 

I pondered over a definition of mindfulness "a mental state achieved by focusing one's awareness on the present moment, whilst, calmly acknowledging and accepting one's feelings, thoughts and bodily sensations" ... it felt right, my intuition spurring me on...have a go...

So I laid on my bed, found a Body Scan mindfulness meditation of about 30 mins and I began to listen...I fell asleep at the left ankle.....kind of first base... YUP!  Sleep deprivation, a dulcet voice soothing my frayed brain was inevitable. I woke up to silence, felt frustrated and negatively self-judgemental for my inability to even focus for 30 minutes on what I had thought would be an instant calm
panacea, a shining light on my journey to mental peace.

So that day I chose to feel beholden to my frustrations, continuing the day in a state of flustered disappointment. What I was fighting to understand was that mindfulness is about acceptance, without any judgement, whatever the outcome is, and being kind to yourself regardless. Acknowledging that maybe, it could take days, weeks or months to stay awake during a Body Scan, SO the thing is...YOU ARE DOING IT... IF you fall asleep it could just be that your body and mind maybe crying out for that extra 30 mins KIPPAGE.... it can be as simple as that.... 

Now being that quite headstrong person, I returned to the tome later on that evening and I read that mindfulness is NOT just about meditation, BUT living mindfully too....

So.... the next morning, with a reluctance of sorts, boosted by head monkeys hanging around the kettle, I decided to mindfully make myself a cup of tea...It felt hard, giving myself permission to make a cup of tea, slowly, amidst the chaos of the morning rush. I focused on filling up the kettle, putting a teabag into the cup, filling the cup, feeling the weight and heat of the cup in my hands, smelling and breathing in the aroma of the tea and then slowly drinking it.....savouring the experience ....

What I realised was this.... in my busy thought-driven automatic pilot day, I often drank a cup of lukewarm tea; something I was mostly disenchanted with, but in the thought driven day had never any attachment to the enjoyment of it...

So the hot tea mindful felt...good. I realised I had chosen to focus on the present and my mind had been given a mini breather. I felt surprisingly better as I finished the children's morning preparations.  I gave them focused attention and recognised this as being mindful and on balance, although my Body Scan meditation didn't work first time, this home tea "experiment" did.

SO ...I had a little chat with my head monkeys, I told them I was going to train them, they might not like it for a while, we would have good days and bad days... however ... with patience and possibilities, we could all have workable boundaries. The monkeys would be fed and watered regularly by a happier, less anxious head monkey keeper and our lives together could be more productive, kinder and a whole lot less judgemental. Of course the monkeys were cynical, change is difficult and mostly scary, but somewhere down the line in this commitment to mindfulness ....we all agreed life could be immeasurably better.

This is an ongoing Blog of my mindfulness journey resulting in me training to teach mindfulness to others. 

I hope very much you stay with me on this ... mindfulness has really helped me ... OH AND BY THE WAY...this word "SHOULD".... go write it on a piece of paper and burn it. It really is a word that mind monkeys enjoy us using and it serves no purpose other than to make us feel unworthy, guilty ....and when we feel these emotions, we generally are less kinder to ourselves.

With love Natasha X

Friday, 20 March 2015

Divorce and The Moving On Bit

ONE day and it really, really does happen… you wake up, you feel different and that heavy rock that has resided so uncomfortably within your solar plexus for way too long, suddenly feels no longer there.  This doesn’t mean all your “stuff” has disappeared, it just means that your life, just maybe, is ready to move forward.

For so many mornings I have woken with such unsettling fear and haunted by the "chicken licken" factor... the sky was going to fall on my head... how would I ever recover from such a life transition... how would my children become balanced and once again happy, less wobbly and the gorgeous little people they are?

In that moment of waking up to a winter sky, to actually be able to smile and say to yourself “I am alive, I have friends and family who love me, I have food on the table, warmth of a fire and clothes on my back” this is the moment.  Having gratitude for all the good in your life is so important in being able to move on. This is when you know that for all those days you just existed and ticked off the daily divorce calendar, those days may just have become fewer. 

For me divorce days are like baby contractions.  They are a personal number you need to get through, some days better and some bad, however the baby still has to come out.  You may not have choices, you may feel out of control, but the birthing still has to happen. 

Divorce is a process and whilst we may be tolerant, organised and friendly, the deep down emotions of grief, resentment and loss, protected of course by the on guard fear monkeys, are still going to be hanging around until we are ready to embrace them.  

So we know, but may have just forgotten, with our little heads bowed under life, that the sky is always blue above the clouds. As we all step out a little tentatively into the new divorcee world, one not perhaps inhabited before, we have with us, our children, a new mix of friends and a fine old inner strength telling us we are not done yet.  Remembering who we are, the resilient inner you that somehow for a while became a little lost under the onion layers is worth celebrating. 

Write your bucket list, smile every day, say thank you for everything, good or bad and know it happened for reasons to teach us these hard lessons.  How we reacted and how we dealt with failure, pain and grief is our strength and undeniable resilience and this sets us up for the next part of the journey of our extraordinary lives.   
I read some worthy books that resonated, gave me comfort and the eternal positives I carry with me today.  Books such as Rhonda Byrne's The SecretLouise Hay's You Can Heal Your Life and Ekhart Tolle's The Power of Now.  There are so many good books out there, these helped me to find a place from where I could begin to grow again. Look for helpful books you are drawn to, read them and don't be afraid to recommend them on.  

Have a think about and maybe have a go at writing and repeating some daily positive, helpful affirmations.  I wrote about mine in a blog I posted earlier last year.  Affirmations can help your brain move out of the negative monkey mind set that can so easily be inhabited, so go train those monkeys! 

Using mindfulness and meditation is good, even for ten minutes a day, exercise and eating good balancing food is worth it too.  There is a space for chocolate and a large glass of red, so don’t be taking that personal beating stick out just because the choc/wine combo looked a whole load better an option last night than the green juice and nuts… 

Peeling back personal layers of hurt, confusion and fear is the good and it gives us true authentic knowledge of who we each are deep down. It can clarify and highlight our extraordinary ability to hold it all together whilst being kind, loving and respectful to our own good selves.  And in truth, to really love someone again starts with loving the inner you.  

Here is something for your fridge, your bathroom mirror or a note for your desk....

"Get the inside right. The outside will fall into place"... Eckhart Tolle
I hope this finds you all well and the sky blue above the clouds XX

PS  I think my blog is a little cross with me as it is refusing to post pictures... apologies from us both for the lack of ....

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Give Extra Love - Children, Divorce and Christmas Holidays

"Our hearts grow tender with childhood memories and love of kindred and we are better throughout the year for having, in spirit, become a child again at Christmas-time" Laura Ingalls Wilder

So here is December.... Celebrations are upon us and the one certainty is that we know Christmas and holidays even at their most genuinely festive and full of LOVE can be fraught with emotions.  

We are all coached subliminally for months for the best Christmas ever... So facing the prospect of Christmas and a divorcing scenario kind of renders us, with our already depleted energy banks, reindeers in the headlights and can send us running, startled for the New Year stars.  We know our head monkeys have been so specially planning the Christmas blitz. Our fears polishing the Don't Feel Good Christmas baubles, stuffing potential Little Strife Gifts into our holey emotional stockings and icing that heavy Heartbreak Christmas Cake.  Not forgetting the Wrapping Up of loneliness on an otherwise cheery Christmas morning and just Decking Out Those Halls with festive monetary concerns. 

So is not now really the time to take a huge, deep and egoless December morning breath and take a sweet Peter Panlike flight back to your childhood. To ever so gently take your inner child's hand in yours and look really honestly into your happy memory Christmas stocking.  Allow yourself to indulge in a childlike fantasy of everything that is Christmas; the magic, the wonderment, all the love and surprises. 

Gather up all your heart warming feelings in all their glittering,  joyful glory and tuck them into your big, hurting and divorcing heart.  Allow your heart to envelope, to merge and be imbued with these beautiful memories.  Give yourself permission to immerse yourselves into your Christmas Wonderland and then, holding all these precious thoughts reemerge into the present and your maybe, very different, Christmas.

As divorcing parents we really do not like to face the parts of our changing lives that matter so much to those we love the most, our children. 

So is divorce something we should focus on at Christmas? Is it a time to take our ex-marital, battery tired, Christmas light sabers out on each other? Is it possible that just for a couple of days, we can let our stuff go, we remember the incredible World War I Christmas Day Truce football match.  Do we need to be sat in our sad family trenches, in the seemingly cold mire of discontent, forgetting that all our children want is to be joyful, to play and feel loved.

Be the heart filled with love, as a divorcing parent or supportive family member. Know that you can leave your ego monkeys to be bored, dulled and useless, during this difficult, emotionally precarious and often painful festive time.  

We know as adults, that our children are dealing with change on a regular basis in divorceland. Understanding that what we can do, no matter how hard, is to preserve some of the beauty of their childhood magic and innocence. 

We are able to give our children and families, through all of this, a festive treasure that is the gift of gentle, sweet love of both parents, without pain, anger or blame during this time that is Christmas. 

Happy Christmas and love filled holidays ...... Natasha

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Divorce Goddess Tripping the Morning Fantastic

DO NOT be tempted to disrespect your divorcing self by walking out the front door looking like you just don’t care.  You are the first port of call in the flotilla of loving, caring and supporting ships bringing forth the beauty, peace, self-respect to your newly single life. 

No matter how dreadful you are feel on waking, how low in esteem you feel or stressed your hair and skin looks on bad nights sleep post break up. The daily machinations of getting it together and working it all out on your own are tiring and wearing, so try to remember the effort that is so rewarded when you do put your gorgeousness together.

Trash Walk of Shame entree was the morning I walked out my door with every single one of my wonderfully caring instincts screaming at me not to put the sheepskin slippers on... put THE trainers have running kit on. So please, oh please, do not wear those to school, take that micro second time out, put the right footwear on even with the moth munched jumper, face devoid of anything but a couple of hormonal spots, hair pony tailed and a pint glass of aired water and lemon in hand.

But I did get into the car, my gorgeous children glad to be on their way to school at a reasonable time didn’t  notice in our haste and into the school car park I drove. Ho ho and what a surprise, to be waved down in the car park by a lovely helpful Mumma who asked if I was going to my Son’s pre-camp meeting NOW...    Aaahhh what ...right now... I peeked at the slippers, back at her and then at my Son whose camp meeting it was.  

My Daughter bolted for the school steps, even in their  no uniform school did the idea of Mother in sheepskin slippers do nothing for teenage daughter's self respect.  I agreed - well of course I did!  I walked into the school in a state of pre-espresso shame shock. BUT secretly and ever so quietly I was laughing. Laughing because I didn't listen to my fantastical intuition, that is there for so many good, valid and caring reasons.

So I walked into a full house classroom meeting, smiling and preempting any of their thoughts with a salutary “Guess the Mumma who forgot about the meeting today”…. My hot water and lemon still high in hand, remarked upon as being not dissimilar to a vodka tonic and bit early in the day..... So in amongst this brave, gung ho'ness, marched the fear monkey glamour army and I realised that whilst one can laugh at oneself in a situation like this, although funny, it could be the slightly sad "she's getting a divorce" scenario and this can only ever be done once. Preferably, in hindsight, not at all…. 

In public and especially if you are getting divorced, does it smack of losing that wonderful edge of control, self-respect and self-worth? Was there a slight sadness attached to the 'pity of divorce' laughter or was it the genuine gratuity of thank goodness it wasn't me.

However... a good morning belly laugh with lots of wonderful people is an immeasurable positive. The connection of laughter for humans is the EXTRA happy place, we relax, we heal and understand with grateful knowledge that everyone has those wrong call mornings. 

Getting your gorgeous self together every time you walk out of your door, rain or shine keeps that 'little goddess getting divorced' head of yours held humbly high, prepared and utterly grateful for what you can manage a little better because you gave yourself the time you utterly deserve.  

So, really we do not need to feel judged because we didn’t get it together to be the yummy mummy. Instead we can choose to give ourselves permission to look beautiful, glamorous and positive in our grace and beauty no matter what is going on in the monkey control centre of our very different, now divorcing life.

With love Natasha