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Posts Tagged ‘mindfulness’

All my life I’ve been an emotional eater…food was used as punishment and as reward. Over the winter my eating habits were atrocious…I would eat non-nutritional food far too often and usually I’d eat mindlessly.  This winter was a tough one because I couldn’t get out and walk, which is one of my favourite forms of self-care.

So winter finally ended and Spring is trying really hard to get to the East Kootenays and especially the Elk Valley, but we’re getting there.  I’ve discovered the trail system that links around and through the community.  During Holy Week I discovered a new trail that I hadn’t hiked before and I hiked it.  It rained and snowed, but I hiked it.

Easter Sunday I went out and hiked it again, and went a little bit farther.  Again, it rained, but I hiked it.

I’ve been out every day this week (granted it’s only Wednesday) but each day I’ve gone a bit further or tried a new path or link.

Today was a crappy day.  I had an argument with a friend and I can remember a time when I would have eaten my feelings, as much fat and salt as possible…the emptier the calories the better.  But today I didn’t do that.  I went for a walk instead and had a conversation with them (they weren’t with me, this conversation was in my head). Originally the walk was going to be around the block…and then it was to the end of the street…and then to part of the trail…and instead of turning back I kept going and walked/hiked a 5 km loop of trail and then came home again.  I was gone just over an hour.

I learned today that I don’t have to eat my feelings.  I can walk them.  I’m still learning to feel my feelings, but today I learned a new way to express myself.  It may not seem like a big deal to you, yet to me it’s huge.

I am strong.  I am capable.  I am in control of myself.  And my food choices today have all been healthy.  This is a good step in the right direction.  I’m proud of me…and it isn’t often I say that.

I’m learning a new way.  I’m teaching myself to listen to myself.  And that’s pretty awesome.  Yay me!

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Before I moved west I was a basket case.  There were specific reasons for this, mostly involving my home life, but I was also struck by how incredibly tired I was.  Perpetually weary, I dreaded mornings and longed for my bed…sweet escape of sleep.

I still served my congregation and I was still pretty good at it…but I felt overwhelmingly empty.  I would work, and work, and work.  And never seem to finish anything.  I’d be filled with guilt if I didn’t return a phone call or respond immediately to an email.  It was frustrating and soul-rendering.  And I could not, for the life of me, figure out why.

I made a promise to myself when I made the decision to move parishes, that I would establish good boundaries, good life balance and try to be better at this whole life thing.  That began with the drive.  My traveling companion and I stopped every day, at some point during the trip, to discover something…and usually to laugh.  We stopped as close to dark as we could and explored wherever we were.  We would take a swim, find something for dinner, and otherwise decompress from the day.

When I got here I was conscious of my time.  And so was the rest of the congregation and community.  When I met with my Regional Dean he offered to be part of my self-care team.  He would hold me accountable to taking day(s) off and caring for myself as much as I care for the community.  I readily agreed.  And, for the record, he does make sure I take my days off.  And that at least once a week, I do something fun, just for myself.

In all fairness, the respect in this is mutual and I encourage the same from him.

Usually Easter Monday I’m exhausted.  I take to my bed and stay there, completely worn out from over-extending myself during Holy Week.  This year that didn’t happen.  I was intentional in taking time during Holy Week to focus on what was most important and didn’t fill my calendar with “should do” events.  Everything on my calendar was “must do”.  And that made a huge difference.

Easter Monday I had an opportunity to take a day trip south of the border…somewhere I had never been before.  I went and the experience was amazing.  There was a great deal of sightseeing.  There was laughter, conversation, music, prayer, absolute joy.  When I got home from that near perfect day I felt relaxed, refreshed, peaceful.  I felt peace-filled!  I felt unadulterated joy.  BALANCE!

If you’ve looked at the word cloud, one of the largest words is Balance.  It is something I seek and something for which I am very mindful.  I don’t always achieve balance.  I do my best.  Lately, I’m getting better with it.  And that makes me feel like I’m on top of the world.

For me, one of the biggest lessons learned is that I don’t have to do it all *gasp*.  And it will still be okay.  Another of the lessons is that if I don’t take care of myself, I cannot take care of others. *shock*  Taking time for me, sets a good example for the congregation.  Taking time for me means I can be happy in myself and therefore of higher service to my congregation, friends and family.  And especially in right relationship with my God.

My routine lately is to wake a bit early, give thanks for the day, say morning devotions and prayers.  Get up, dressed, and walk, sometimes to the chiropractor, sometimes to the post office.  As part of every day I get outside, whether it’s raining, sunny, windy.  Even if just for 20 minutes I get outside.  I’m drinking more water.  I’m consuming less caffeine.  I’m moving my body more.  I’m slowing down and savouring everything around me.  I’m aware, I’m mindful.  I’m happy…I’m peaceful.  I’ve found balance!

Everything around me looks brighter, clearer, more awesome, every single day.  And for that I am eternally grateful.

Thanks be to God.

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I have never had general anaesthetic before.  Pretty amazing given my age (47).  But it’s true.  I am scheduled for surgery on Friday and I’m nervous about it.  Not nervous about the procedure, the surgeon has my complete faith and he knows what he’s doing.  I’m not nervous about dying, because I’ve made my peace with God and am ready for whatever comes my way.  I am nervous about the anaesthetic and my reaction to it.

I’ve been preparing this week by eating a bland diet.  Drinking lots of water and herbal tea.  Detoxing the processed crap from my diet.  Breathing better.  Getting things in order at the Church for Vestry.  Asking a friend and Deacon to take the services for me so I don’t have to worry about presiding service less than 48 hours after surgery.  I’m even staying overnight at a friend’s house for a couple of nights to make sure I have someone with me.  Another friend is moving in to look after the dogs so they are cared for.

The massive anxiety I have been carrying was lessened significantly when I decided not to work on Sunday.  I know it’s our annual meeting and that’s a really big deal, but so is my health.  The work has been done to get everything ready; well, as ready as things can be for this meeting.  We must remember to leave room for the Holy Spirit.

I will be spending some time at the Church this afternoon putting things away as the office is a pigsty right now, sorting things out, finding files, filing them, etc.  And once that is done I will breathe a great sigh of relief.  I have full trust in our Wardens that they will do a fantastic job of Vestry.  I’d like to be there, but I don’t have to be there.  Vestry happened before I came to my current parish and it will happen again when I’m no longer there.

I have done what makes me comfortable.  I have organised as best I can.  The rest I leave in capable hands.  And it will be what it will be.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to refill my water bottle.  🙂

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In my job I am occasionally called on to listen while someone is in crisis. My usual reflex action was to listen, make noises (such as “Mm-Hmm” or “Yes, yes” etc) and to be thinking of what I was going to reply as the person was speaking. It was not usually effective and more often than not, left me feeling more anxious than when I sat down with the person.

Since I’ve started studying Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy, I very aware of how I sit, how I come across, ensuring I am approachable and non-threatening.

A lady in my congregation is struggling with depression. She’s got anxiety that overwhelms and almost cripples her. She’s honoured me with her trust, in sharing when she’s in a shaky place and she’ll ask if she can come and have a chat. I always readily agree.

Recently she went on a cruise with her husband. A first for both of them. She was terribly fearful of the cruise, but knew it was important to her husband so she felt she had to go. The therapist she was seeing blamed her depression on her son’s suicide four years ago, and said that until she sorted herself out with that she would continue to be depressed. This therapist was not a good fit for her, and thankfully, she recognised that in herself.

What I do is not therapy. I am not a therapist. I am a priest, a spiritual advisor, and occasionally a confidante.

When she comes to see me, we sit in my office and I ask her how her day is going. She talks, and I listen. I may nod my head, but I don’t make affirming noises as they irritate me (so I can only imagine how irritating they are to the hearer) but I make sure to keep my focus on the person, without staring.

Often there are pauses. Sometimes she takes my hand or I take hers. Often there are tears. And through it all God is there. On Sunday, this lovely lady told me she wanted to resign from one of her multiple ministries in the Church. I accepted her resignation with sadness, but thankfulness and understanding.

She wanted to talk about the guilt she felt for “abandoning me” to that ministry. I listened to what she was saying and affirmed her gifts. I did not say “don’t be silly” because she’s already dealing with guilt. She doesn’t need to feel silly as well. When I told her of the ministries I saw her undertaking and loving service she had given the Church for several decades she brightened.

Someone had seen her…really seen her. She was being celebrated and honoured. And it will continue to happen. She has promised to continue as a resource for Parish information to me. She has promised if she doesn’t like the way I take on the ministry that she will tell me. And I have promised that she will always have my complete and utter support.

Tonight I am sitting down with a new friend who has been battered through his young life, by the Church. I am the first person of faith that he has reached out to in decades and I am both anxious and honoured to be meeting with him tonight. I have no agenda other than to listen. I will not take notes. I will be wholly and mindfully present.

I suspect there may be some tears. And lots of laughter as we have similar senses of humour. And at the end, perhaps there will be prayer.

I know that I am not God. I would not want God’s job. I’m too judgmental to be God.

I know that I am not Christ. I would not want Christ’s job. I’m too selfish to be Christ.

All I can be is me. All I can do is listen. And if, in being who I am, and listening as I do, I can help someone feel a little less lost, and little more found; then I have succeeded.

And it will be a good day.

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