This past year or so has been a year of “restructuring” in my personal life. I have had to reevaluate what my priorities are and what kind of person I want to be. I’ve spent the majority of my life being a people pleaser, measuring my success by what other people thought of me and never making decisions without making sure other people approved first. I think being conscious of other people’s thoughts and opinions can be good, but I was at a point where I had a lot of trouble making any decisions independently. Thankfully, I am married to a man who has always wanted me to be strong in my opinions and has encouraged me to think for myself. It is ironic that getting married has made me more independent than I can ever remember being.
While the past year has been a year of self-care for me, I have recently been trying to make some adjustments to the way I live my life to take extra good care of myself. It is very important to me to have a healthy mind, body, and soul. I tend to give a lot of myself to other people and I had a hard time prioritizing myself because it felt selfish or self-absorbed. It seems counterintuitive that prioritizing yourself can help you serve others, but I am just now realizing that the healthier and happier I am, the more I have to give to others. I have a tendency to let life overwhelm me and I have developed a habit of letting life knock me down. Instead of standing up and proving to myself that I can handle the challenges, I have often retreated and hidden away from life.
An opportunity presented itself to me recently to take a class about Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR). The first class was yesterday, and unfortunately I had a prior commitment scheduled for the same time. I am pretty sad to miss the first class, but I’m excited to see where the next 8 weeks take me. To get the most out the class, you have to do “homework”. Part of this week’s homework is to do a “body scan meditation” 6 times this week.
I tried this for the first time today. The workbook we are using for the course comes with a CD of guided meditations. I chose the 15 minute body scan meditation (the others are 30 minutes and 45 minutes), since it was my first one. It was a pretty interesting experience. I had the house to myself, so I decided to do it in the living room. I turned off all electronics so I could focus on the experience. During the meditation, I was guided to focus on different parts of my body, paying attention to any sensations or feelings I was experiencing. It was actually pretty crazy to realize how much goes on in your body at any given time. I could feel the blood pulsing through my feet; I could feel my breath as my lungs filled with air. I started to feel like maybe I should have chosen a longer body scan mediation since this was such a nice experience!
And then, as is typical with my short attention span, my mind started to wander and I forgot to listen to the prompts that were being given. I started to think about work and my brain went into “problem solving mode” as I made plans for what I would do when I got to work tomorrow. Thankfully, this only lasted for less than a minute before I caught myself and I went back to focusing on the body scan mediation. I’m glad I chose the short one to start with. Today was a bit of a stressful day. I felt tired and my mind felt run down. I didn’t feel like I could give my best self to the kids today and I didn’t have as much patience with them as I usually do. This homework came at a perfect time and I’m glad I chose to start with the short one today…it was exactly what I needed! I will try to keep you all updated on my MBSR experiences as the weeks go on. So far, I’m feeling revitalized, optimistic, and excited!