So clearly there’s more to this post than meets the eye – it sounds like a load of marketing codswallop, right?
Well, it is, but only partially.
Let me explain.
Life has thrown me a couple of curveballs lately – mainly being a financial investment that has shown zero return on investment and put me in a couple of tight spots.
Anyway, there I was dealing with them as best as I can, head down trying to grind through it when a couple of days later I woke up and after no desire to have breakfast – almost unheard of for me!
I felt as flat as a pancake, and a feeling that my stomach was lined with a sour pointlessness.
This really took me by surprise, as it’s very different to my ‘default setting’ – which is buoyant (if gritty).
I felt like a plane that kept trying to get off the ground but just lacked the oomf to get airborne, and kept getting dragged down to earth.
- Round and round I went in my thoughts:
Needed to get ‘X’ > Tried to get ‘X’ > Failed to get ‘X’
[Power up bad feelings]
But I Needed to get ‘X’ > Tried to get ‘X’ > Failed to get ‘X’
[Power up bad feelings more]
But really I Needed to get ‘X’ > Tried to get ‘X’ > Failed to get ‘X’
[Power up bad feelings even more]
So that was a pretty depressive cycle.
I needed to get off, so thankfully the smarter part of me had a great idea:
“Use the techniques of Mindfulness you’re spouting about all the time you plum!”
So that’s what I did – and here’s what I did intermittently over the course of a few hours.
I breathed, I mean really breathed.
Deep breaths at first – diaphragmatic breathing style.
I did this to generally oxygenate my body, to help me focus and energise me, as well as giving me something else to focus on.
Then I slowed my breathing down to a normal pace, and started to really turn my attention to it, doing my best to place my focus on the cycle of breath rather than the cycle of snivelling and whining that had been running through my mind until then.
When I fell off the wagon and my mind got drawn back to the unhelpful thoughts, I just did my best to refocus on th breath without any sense of judgement or berating myself. The way I think of this is gently guiding a rambling toddler in a general direction, gently guiding them back as they naturally wander off, with a loving sense of
“Come on, this way”
This takes the mind away from the ravages and gives it something to do, while helping to balance to mind and body (this sounds so hippy I know!)
I observed the feelings
When I felt robust enough from the breathing, I turned my attention to the feelings of depression.
I didn’t engage with them as such, but more just noticed the ebb and flow of them, like standing on the edge of the pond watching the ripples without the need to wade in.
I think this one of the more challenging elements of mindfulness, given how this is all but going face to face with the feelings one would usually avoid. So wearing a sense of “Oh, there’s that feeling again, there it goes…. oh it’s getting stronger… OK, now it’s petering out” but doing so without a following sense of worry when they came OR relief when they went.
Like I say, it is a challenge, but a doable one, with practice.
I did something. Specifically something that required a focus on something other than myself
For me this was pretty easy, I had to pick up my children from school. I picked them up and as the sun was shining, filled up the paddling pool, and decided to do them BBQ burgers for their tea.
I got my gratitude on
Sat in the garden feeling the sun on my face, watching my beautiful children playing in the paddling pool, the smell of sizzling meat filling my nostrils, a cold beer in my hand, I realised how blessed I am, and how perfect this moment was.
Then I did it again, several times. turning my attention to all the different elements, committing to memory each individual element for future recall.
By the evening I had gained enough distance to analyse how I’d been feeling earlier in the day, with a genuine sense of fascination, and also a compassionate pat on the back to myself for working through the day to a place able to make sense of it.
Now I realise how stacked the deck was in my favour to feel better (weather, kids, sunshine, beer, BBQ) but I wasn’t about to decry the end result of it all.
I want to be clear that I’m not making light of anyone else experiencing a depressive state – my experience was a real one, and yet proof to me that by taking lurching, clumsy, mistake ridden action, there are things that you can do to improve a bad situation, and at the very least help to not make things any worse.
How’s that for grizzled optimism?
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