Am I writing this post just to use the photos of Hoges that I took this afternoon?
He is a cute dog and a very messy one who has never met a mud hole that he didn’t love
Nonetheless, this post is not about him
It’s rained a lot lately, every ditch and gully, pothole and divot, is full of water. The water isn’t clear, it’s muddy brown, and because of that, there isn’t much reflection.
And if there is no reflection, the photographer in me is a little annoyed, it seems a waste of a good puddle if I can’t see a reflection in it.
This made me think of our minds and how we can’t see anything in them when they are full of turbulence and distraction. When the mind is muddy, it becomes pretty useless.
Mine does, anyway.
A few months ago, my stress levels were apparently alarmingly high. Yet I didn’t feel anything; I was fine, fine, fine.
A bit preoccupied, distracted and worried, I suppose, but nothing I couldn’t handle. Yet my Garmin watch was tracking my stress, and it was telling me stress was stupidly high at night when I was supposed to be relaxed and recovering.
Stress is such an overused word, and we hardly comprehend it. It feels like a drama, something important, something imperative, something requiring an exclamation mark at the very least, and I just didn’t feel like I had anything of that sort of magnitude happening to me.
But wearable tech like my watch simply provides feedback of physical signs my body was sending it. Just because the app called it “stress” and I didn’t like the term didn’t mean something wasn’t occurring.
The bright orange bars on the graph and warnings when I checked my sleep data each morning began to get to me. So for a while, I stopped checking them. Which isn’t very helpful and certainly didn’t change the situation. I gingerly peeked a week later; the orange bars were even higher and thicker, and the scores were dire. Damn.
I take my health seriously. Sleep is incredibly important. Quality sleep staves off all sorts of deleterious diseases of aging that I do not want to attract.
I began hunting around for clues. Was it my husband’s snoring? Well, there was that, but nothing had changed there, so why was it suddenly adversely affecting me?
The first thing we humans almost universally do when faced with an issue as to what is causing something is to look around for what or who is to blame
Spoiler alert, it wasn’t my husband, even though he is to blame for many things
I knew that nothing “out there” was really causal. I am responsible for my own mental state. I just wasn’t sure what exactly I was doing to upset my Garmin while I was unconscious.
Difficult to question someone who is comatose, even trickier when you, as the interrogator, are also asleep. So I figured I had to get to the next best state – meditated.
Meditation works. It has always worked for me in the past. Unfortunately, I became a lapsed mediator due to being busy (which I know is the worst excuse not to meditate but here I was).
We cannot control anything “out there”, which is why I didn’t even bother analysing it. Obviously, somewhere inside, I was having a bad reaction, I needed to find out where.
My thoughts were the problem. Tuning into my thoughts, I was a bit shocked by the negativity I was producing throughout the day.
You would think sleep is an escape from thoughts. Actually, it is worse. Our dreams are just our subconscious replaying our thoughts back to us in new and creative ways.
Welcome to the nightmare.
Nightmares are not all ghouls and ghosts and post-traumatic stress. Nightmares are also arguments and pettiness, leftover rumination, agitation and unspent resentment. Nightmares continue whatever odious bile we have been thinking about all day. Nightmares are embarrassing things that we are too ashamed to even think about during daylight hours. Nightmares are repressed and depressed thoughts that we are not allowing ourselves to have because we are too busy being bloody skipdedo cheery.
So I had to take a look at all that and do so honestly
I began working on my internal dialogue, particularly before I went to sleep. I returned to journaling and thought dumping and actively changing the negative patterns that I could see once I paid attention to them. But first, I had to let myself be heard. Properly. Not just jollying myself into being “not so negative, Kate”
It’s not a crime to be a bit sad and cranky, or even a lot sad and cranky. It’s frowned upon to inflict your mood on others, but you are allowed to inspect it in yourself. And we should do so honestly, out of respect for who we are as humans living this wild ride called life.
It took some time because I’m a complicated bit of paper, but it worked
The mud began to settle. I reignited my yoga practice, I incorporated box breathing, and I kept listening to my journal rants, even though sometimes it was with eyes rolled towards the ceiling. As much as we may try and deny our foibles and flaws during the day, or gloss over that small human whimper that wants to be heard, eventually, the whimper is going to become a roar, and the roar will increase our heart rate, and it will upset us, even if it has to do so while we sleep.
With time and attention, the alarming overnight orange graph lines faded and became a pretty calm blue again.
My sleep scores increased
My resting heart rate came down.
Everything stopped galloping
My mind became useful, and I actually began writing things other than boring monologues in my journal. God help me if anyone finds my journals – I have told my sister she is to come immediately if she hears news of my death (to put aside her terrible, paralysing grief – just for a moment) and burn the damn things. I should probably do it myself. Journals are – journals are beside the point, sorry, a moment of panic thinking of someone finding my journals
Back to the very slippery point of this post
Here is a quick list that probably isn’t overly helpful (but we bloggers love a list) of all the ways in which to settle one’s mind in order to make it (eventually and with dedicated practice) clear and calm.
Meditate – just sit still and commit – use an app, a timer, a hammer – just do it
Exercise, but don’t flog yourself harder and fill your veins with even more cortisol – take it back a notch and try yoga, go for a walk
Get plenty of sleep – go to bed at the same time every night, no matter what. Yes, that means being firm and walking away from the television no matter how thrilling the latest episode of Yellowstone is or ruthlessly closing the book in the middle of a chapter
Breathe – intentionally – box breathing is excellent
Avoid social media – like the plague, it is
Journal – and have a backup plan for disposal of said journals (further note, never bitch in your journal about the person who is your backup plan, just in case they are also writing your eulogy). Listen to yourself, answer your own questions, ask yourself the things you need to know and discuss everything just as you would with a dear friend. Laugh at yourself, cry with yourself. If you haven’t worked it out – the relationship with yourself is incredibly important because you really need to get a good night’s sleep.
Eat healthy food and stay hydrated – standard stuff, I know, but it works, so I have to include it
Don’t waste your time reading fluffy blog posts about mindfulness with dog pictures
Why are you still reading this? you should be meditating whilst eating an apple and breathing – actually, scratch that, NO! You will choke. Don’t do that. One thing at a time.
Don’t take advice from bloggers and wellness gurus. Obviously, we are all flawed. Listen to yourself, and follow your own intuition. Again, journal – it’s the most important conversation we can have.
Life gets in the way of all sorts of good intentions. It’s turbulent, but we don’t have to be.
The mind is the CEO of the body for a reason – it impacts everything
Keep it clear. Keep it calm. Keep it meditated.
I forgot the importance of this for a hot minute, and if I weren’t such a fan of personal health tracking, I would have missed the timely reminder that our mind impacts our physical health, with quite serious consequences.
So to round up this somewhat sprawling and slippery pointed post
Here’s another photo of Hoges, because I can, and yep, he came out of this mud puddle and jumped all over me, and then I had to walk the rest of the way home with giant muddy paw prints all over my white shirt. But everyone who passed us smiled and waved.
It was a beautiful sunny sparkly evening after the rain. What’s not to enjoy?
Have a lovely day yourself 😊🐾🦴 take a walk – if it’s one thing to change in your life, to make your mind clearer, take a walk (or in your case Ellie, if you’re reading this, a roll💕) there is something magical about sunlight, oxygen and moving along at the same speed at which our brain processes things. It all just …clicks.
32 thoughts on “Clarity and Calmness”
I’ve been meaning to start meditating and doing yoga. You’re an inspiration. Or is it the dog who is inspiring me. I’m a sucker for a crazy dog. Love em.
It’s probably Hogan that’s inspiring 😁 dogs are the best meditators, they can lie so still with eyes hooded and stare at nothing in particular but if a rabbit saunters past, complete awareness and instant rush.
He’s absolutely adorable. I can’t even begin to tell you how helpful meditating and breathing exercises have been.
He is beautiful. Big though and doesn’t know his own strength. I get rubs on meditation where I make it a priority for a few months and then then I begin to neglect my practice. I will be sticking to it now though, it’s one thing to think it’s making a difference, and another to be certain.
Yeah meditation takes a while to get into and I had and still have my ups and downs. But no matter what I try to meditate at least for a few minutes each day.
I think that is the trick – the habit, no matter how the practice goes – it is the habit that is the main thing. Well that’s what I am trying to do anyway
Yeah I agree, if I stop even for one day I know it’s going to ruin my flow and it’ll be hard to get back into it.
What a marvellous post! Incredibly thought-provoking and insightful; deep and yet light at the same time! A positive take-home message for us all!
Thanks Colin 😊
You are most welcome!!! 🙂
😁and he knows it
He is such a sweetie. I did alot of yoga !
Great informative post.
Makes me feel inadequate.
Really need to find out how to meditate.
I don’t do yoga.
I don’t have a watch that monitors me.
I DO box breathe.
Guess that is a start.
Now three thirty in the morning.
Not much point in going back to sleep.
Have to be up at five.
So true – if our minds are ‘cloudy’, our thoughts get confusing and listless. I related to so much of this post. Made me laugh that you wrote about our instinct to blame someone if we aren’t feeling the best and that your husband escaped blame this time. LOL. Mine is usually the first to get it. Haha.
Ha! Husbands are handy like that. 😂
Great reflections and good suggestions!
Thank you very much for sharing
PS I love your Hoges ❣️
Thank you Luisa. Yes Hoges is getting much admiration, I think it was a great idea to use him in the header pic. Doubtful game will go to his head, nothing much does except mud and bones and the finding of both these things 😊
That’s his way of having fun!🌺❤️🌺
I WILL take your advice my wise and awesome friend! I absolutely love love love this piece filled with truth and wisdom. Quieting our internal dialogue is not an easy task. I love your honesty, rawness, and acceptance of the rumination in your thought process. Kate, since I let go of social media, except for here, my thought life improved tremendously. As much as I care for others, I truly don’t “care”…about comparisons, competition, and contrasts in life. It was so shallow and those of us that like to go “deep” can never see reflections! They are truly “muddied” up with menial! I find clarity and calmness in the same ways as you. You’re inspiring us my friend! Hoges is absolutely darling~I want to cuddle and give kisses even if muddy! Speaking of dogs,…they are so therapeutic too! Finley just gets me. She’s always keeping me grounded. It’s so good to read your words and “see” you. I’m sending love, light, and blessings always! X 🙏🏻💕💛🥰🐾
So lovely to hear from you Karla, I’m glad you have Finley, dogs seem to know just what to do when something is wrong. They listen quietly and offer their warm bodies to lean on. Very therapeutic. Try and stay as filled with sunshine as possible my friend, I hope you are well soon. 💕
Thank you, Kate! I will do just that. You too my friend. I’m staying prayerfully positive. 💕💛 sending it to you too!
Much needed words of wisdom here – thank you. ❤️
Very kind, thanks for reading 😊
fighting off disease
time to grow
What a wonderful and inspiring post, Kate. Thank you so much for sharing your wise and guiding words. I’ve been able to take a lot from this piece (I’ve read it over three times to get all the ideas and suggestions into my head.) I don’t sleep well at all, and feel constantly worn out and anxious. I hate to think what my stress monitor (if I had one) would read. It would probably be up in the reds! I rarely remember any dreams, although I am aware of nightmares, which are awful.
I used to meditate regularly, but haven’t done so for several years. Perhaps, now is the time to resume this again. Journalling is also something I haven’t done for an equal number of years. I used to keep a daily diary with all my innermost feelings and thoughts. It was at a time when I was very mentally unwell and caught up in addictions and self-harm as well as anorexia. I poured my heart out into my writing. However, I was sooo worried about my children finding and reading them when I’d gone that I burned them in the garden about four years ago, all eight years’ worth of them! It was a hard thing to do, extremely hard, and sometimes I regret it, but I couldn’t risk my children finding all that awful stuff. I think I’ll try and give journalling another go as, although, I’m not so mentally unwell at the moment, I’m hoping there will be nothing that I wouldn’t want my children to see when I’ve gone. Mind you, would that work? Or would that be like censoring my own thoughts?
Thank you so much for the mention and for thinking of me going for a roll in Alfie (my wheelchair.) I will definitely do more of that. I’m fortunate enough to live near a river, which had some wildlife growing and living there. It’s beautiful on a sunny day.
Hoges is gorgeous and I’m glad he’s such a good companion to you. Peanut, my cat, is great company for me, too. I’m so glad I have her in my life. Sorry for such a looong comment. There was just so much I wanted to respond to. It’s been a journey of inspiration from the beginning to the end of your sensitive and honest post. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts. With much love and gratitude, Ellie Xx 💝🥰💖
The river sounds beautiful Ellie, bodies of water bring the wildlife in closer. Walter the recent rain, the little creek in town grew sizeably and was running with a happy burble – I walked beside it for a change the other day and it was stunning with the sun glinting, and the tall trees beside it no doubt soaking their roots in the extra moisture. I’m glad you enjoyed the post I did think of you whilst I was writing it and was particularly grateful for the concrete path beside the creek in town which means that people in wheel chairs or walkers can access nature in such a pretty spot.
Insightful post! ♡♡ love it!
Thank you! I’m so sorry for the delay in replying I just found this in a folder in comments 😬😊
Wonderful. Keep going on it
Everything you mentioned is the same things I’ve been struggling with myself. I’m so glad you shared this with me. I’m terrible at staying centered and trying to quiet my mind. I try to focus on breathing and do things that help me feel better but I feel as if I’m on a teeter totter. Ugh hopefully something gives.
It’s been a crazy year – I won’t be sad to see the end of the year if the tiger but it has taught me a lot…I hope. Glad the post helped lovely, I am returning to blog land soon and one of the first peoples posts I always enjoy reading are yours.