Internal strength, power, self-control, courage and dominance. Hard to believe that these may all be deeply rooted and embedded into our individual foundations? Would you agree with me if I suggested that each and every one of us already have ‘EVERYTHING that we need WITHIN us’? I feel that we all do and that we just need to learn how to connect with and utilise these internal resources.
When you think about it, we are all born with a heart which starts to beat very early on in our mother’s womb. From this second onwards, we have the ability to live, to love, to feel empathy and to give and receive kindness and compassion. Our beating hearts keep us alive every single second of every day of life that we are gifted with. They act like the engine room on a ship, a very large, complicated and intricate ship. Just like this engine room on the ship, our heart controls every element of our existence.
We are all gifted with lungs to breathe. Some of us are blessed with two lungs, some with one lung, some with perfectly healthy lungs, some with compromised lungs. Our lungs provide us with essential air and life force every second of every day. Without our lungs, we cannot breathe the oxygen that our body needs to survive. How many of us actually stop and think about what our heart and lungs do for us minute by minute? Some of us do, some of us don’t. We don’t need to as they beat and breathe independently every day. Thankfully, this is the case! If we had to remember to breathe every second to stay alive, we would all be in trouble! Our minds continuously wander and get distracted by life in general, so it would be a difficult task to remember to breathe in order to stay alive. Another question; how many of us express gratitude for these special gifts of life? How many of us view ourselves as being blessed with life every day that we experience our hearts beating and lungs breathing independently?
So essentially, with just these two functioning elements, we already have everything we need within us to stay alive. We can apply the same concept to our thoughts, emotions and feelings. With the fast paced era we are used to living in, so many of us have forgotten, or maybe never realised in the first place, that we can pause, we can connect with ourselves and that we all have control and choices over how we want to live our lives.
This is the fundamental aspect that I lost control over when I was in the depth of my own anxiety and at the mercy of my increasingly destructive thoughts and mind. I felt like I was being continually chased by a dark shadow whom I feared desperately. I didn’t quite know why this shadow was chasing me, but I never wanted to hang around to find out. I was
continually searching and seeking for that ‘professional person’ or ‘practice’ that would ‘fix me’ and help me to feel less invaded by my own thoughts and mind. I never thought for one second that I could in fact be that ‘professional person’ and that I could go on to carve, shape and implement my journey of healing and recovery.
It wasn’t until I started to practice Mindfulness, Meditation and Yoga that I learnt to rest in the uncomfortable space my mind and body was in. I learnt how to be patient with every feeling of panic, with every debilitating fearful thought, with the numerous tears of anxiety, depression and sadness that I shed. I learnt how to treat my mind, my emotions and my physical body like I would treat my very best friend. I also learnt how to soothe and comfort myself instead of ripping myself apart.
The more I developed my own Mindfulness and Meditation practice, the more freedom and space came into my mind and body. I felt calmer, more able to cope with life’s daily demands, less panicky about the normal ups and downs of health, family, work and life in general. I felt I developed more control over my reactions to life’s stimuli. This just happened the more I adopted a mindful approach to living.
As time went on, I realised that I had so many of the resources I needed for my own recovery and daily life inside of my body. I developed a strength in knowing and in using my breath as my anchor to relieve stress, anxiety, fear and panic. I used simple breathing techniques to slow down my heart rate and to slow down and relax my breathing rhythm. Daily Meditation, even for just 10 minutes, helped to create a calm space in my mind and body. Mostly, I would just sit in a quiet room, in my own presence, listening to and connecting with my own breath.
I found that using these internal resources helped me to increase the volume of tools in my mindful toolbox. I discovered that engaging my breathing effectively during each day, particularly at times of heightened stress and anxiety, created a feeling as if someone had opened the valve of a balloon and let some much-needed air release outwards. It took so much pressure out of that balloon. Using daily Meditation became my new ‘rest and restore’. Before this, at some of my lowest points, I found it hard to get through the day without having to sleep for at least an hour. I was exhausted and felt I needed this rest time for recovery. But the more I meditated in the quietness and stillness of my own breath and heartbeat, the more rested I felt and as if I had slept for hours. It gave me a new sense and feeling of empowered energy and zest for life.
The most powerful point in my life was the realisation that ‘EVERYTHING I need is already WITHIN me’. This realisation came only when I stripped back my whole life, when I assessed every element and part of my life. This included determining which parts of my life were working for me and which parts were slowly destroying me. I became personally empowered with the ability to have so much control and choice over my health and well-being and of how I wanted to pursue forward in my life.
I soon realised that all I need in my life is for my heart to beat and my lungs to breathe. Every day that this happens independently is a joyous day and a reason to celebrate and express immense gratitude. Anything else in my life after these gifts are a bonus to be blessed with. I
became confident in the practice of using my breath as the gateway to the life of calm, peace, serenity, fun and laughter that I was continuously chasing for the previous 10-15 years.
Once we have the foundations and core of our existence functioning, these being our beating heart and our breathing lungs, which in turn operate the other systems in our bodies, everything else can be determined by our own choices, by our own power, by our own internal strength and abilities. This realisation is truly life transforming. Having a set of coping techniques in our mindful toolbox is incredible. You can constantly add to your existing internal resources by building up your mindful tools, which you always have access to . You don’t even have to remember to bring them with you! You have your coping techniques internally to use at any given moment and particularly during stressful and anxious times.
The feeling of no longer needing to find somebody else to ‘fix you’ is incredible. The safety in the knowledge that you don’t need to ‘fix yourself’ is truly empowering. You can adopt a mindful approach to living that will help you to live alongside whatever shadows are chasing you. The shadows will become less frightening and more manageable. Developing and nurturing a deep sense of internal resilience and stable strength will empower and encourage you beyond your expectations.
Once you start to believe, practice and instil the belief that ‘EVERYTHING you need is already WITHIN you’, you will experience immense internal and external courage, strength and gratitude that can help you to become the very best version of yourself!
(Published in the Westmeath Examiner on 12/5/2020 and The Meath Chronicle and The Anglo Celt on 13/5/2020)