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Friday, May 16, 2014

What is mindfulness?

This morning I met with a long time friend, and fellow brain injury survivor.  She went into a residential mindfulness and meditation program, about a year ago. I still see her often, when I go to meditation practices.  Her parents are incredibly committed, and attend nearly all of the community sits (guided meditations) offered.  Whenever they go, I usually have an opportunity to go with them.  The practice of personal meditation does not come so easily for me.  Though, I've found the guided practices extremely beneficial.

  Anna has offered to meet with me once a week, so we can do a more individualized practice.  Today, we were outside, by the river, and two commonly used meditation phrases came, 'hear in,' and 'feel in.'  I've always appreciated hear in, because it requires me to take notice of my physical surroundings.  I appreciate the reminder that we are of animal ancestry, and have keen senses, that are so often diminished by the technology we are using all the time.  For me personally, I also appreciate it, as it gives me time to reflect on any changes in my body.  Feel in, I'm not a fan of because I'm supposed to process my feelings, of the moment, of the past, whatever arises.  Personally, I don't like dealing with my feelings, I don't know if I ever have.  I'd rather pretend they are not there.  Good, or bad, it doesn't matter.  Being so active has always helped me with that.  

After our first session we were reflecting on things that came up.  I said I felt frustrated with where I wa/am in life, and not knowing how to move on.  But, eventually I said I was angry at myself for allowing the gynocologist to coerce me into not only taking Yaz, but to continue using it, after I was unhappy with the side effect of nausea.  I didn't want to feel in, because I feel like crap on the inside.  I try not to reflect that, but I want my independence back, at least financially, and physically. I hate not having an 'intellectual'purpose'.  I need tangible goals, I'm so tbored with only focusing on my rehabilitation, at this point.  See, feel in brings out the demons, but at least I was talking about them.  Word is, admitting your troubles is first step to quelling them.  We shall see.  Meditation can be so difficult sometimes, but it has helped me pick myself back up, and keep going, time, and time again.  

As we shared our experiences, Anna's  response to my feelings, put me on edge.  She said, 'I'm sensing a lot of rage in you.'  I had to brush it off then, but that was like a trigger word for me.  I just shut down until we were done.  We all view thing differently, but I personally view rage as a physical manifestation of anger, like violence, hitting, or breaking things.  I know it's more common than anyone realizes, because we don't talk about it.  I should look up the definition of rage, maybe I'll have a better perspective of what she meant.  Obviously, I have some pretty intense feelings regarding the how, and why I acquired this injury. and some of the experiences I've had as a result.  Anoxia is not typically an event, people survive.  The cell damage is random, so it doesn't appear on scans.  Initially, I may as well have been dead, the machines ran my body for me.  Ironically, the defribilator shocked my heart back into rhythm, but all else was lost, and I will always have a myriad of scars to remind me of my vitality, as well as 7 years of a rehab. program.  No one signs up to have their life altered forever, by losing once trusted, and dependable, actions, physical, and/or mental.  Initially, I had severe memory difficulties, the first couple months I couldn't remember from one day to the next.  Everyday, I woke up confused, and afraid because I didn't remember where I was, or what had pappened.  The kicker was that my tracheotomy kept me from being able to speak, until it was removed, and I couldn't see, so I was unable to react to anything visual.  One of my first, (and favorite memories,is of my mom remarking on my feelings, and folding my fingers, until only the middle one was extended.  It worked, she got me to laugh.  Nothing like a little juvenile humor to appeal to an otherwise unresponsive human.  It's been a long road, and likely always will be.  The key is who you have around you, and to help you keep moving along, towards whatever your chosen path.

 One of the most difficult aspects of this injury, is being alone in it.  There's no yardstick by which to measure myself with others, there's no one who understands how to deal with it, however, there are tons of people who are encouraging,  and others who just want to tell me their opinion of how I can move forward. (Most annoying personality type out there), but my favorite are the people who put the extra time, and put energy into hearing me, and are okay with my will to do things for myself.   Yes, there's a lot of things that  are awful in life, for me, for you, for I everybody.  But it it's not about who got me where, or how somebody else made me feel.  At the end of the day, this life is what I have, and I'm grateful for it, despite all of the absolute rubbish I've endured as a result.  I don't actually feel enraged, not now anyway.  It's been 7 years, I've had plenty of time to realize some peace, and I will always be grateful that I still have the opportunities to rebuild, and rewire.  The ability to acquire new skills, and knowledge is gift to each of us, and not having lost that, I'm contended enough.  With all other injuries, if you lose motor function because of a severed nerve,  tendon, anything, the impairment can be lifelong.  The only beauty of a brain injury is that neurons, and synapses can regenerate.  It's difficult, and pure hell some/most days, because the act of trusting myself, and my abilities is lost.  However, there will always be magic in my, well, 2nd firsts.  And, the continued growth from there.  For example, as my vision has ever so slowly pieced back in, or running again, albeit with a baby jogger, and certainly horseback riding again.  There will always be more to push through, work on, and overcome, whomever you are.  This world is only lonely, if I put that label on it, so I'm not going to.  There will always be positives, and negatives in life.  It's all in how we decide approach our challenges. Mine is a totally unique brain injury, where I have to continue to push on, test everything, and stand up for myself, and the unique injury I acquired.  As they say, 'You don't know what you can do, until you try.'


1 comment:

Julie/Mom said...

Your perspective on things and how you view your life/injury is so well described . You know where you want to go, it's just the how and you seem to be doing a good job of it. Keep your running going, as I know you will. think and express yourself so much better when you do!
Love you the most,