Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Mindfulness: FAILURE

Yesterday I attempted the body scan meditation again but with a different guided audio and... SUCCESS! What I mean is, I was able to do it without wanting to jump out of my skin, which was what I felt with the previous guided body scan because the guy's voice was HIDEOUS! Instead, I used this audio, which has the soothing sounds of Mindfulness guru John Kabat-Zinn.

Now my one critique of this mediation, in general, is that it is WAYYYYYY too long for folks like me whose temperament is more  high energy/anxiety. I need a meditation that is engaging (mindful) yet not more than 25 minutes MAX. This ran 29 minutes. I stopped at 25.

What I am beginning to see and understand about myself is that I carry perfectionism into all areas of my life, to a detriment. I was judging myself and also arguing with myself internally for not "doing it right", meaning...when I did this yesterday, I was at work and couldn't exactly sprawl out on the floor of my tiny office, so I sat back in my chair. The body scan directions state that you should recline...so I got all over myself about that. The arguing part was me yelling at myself that this was "Probably a waste and how many times have you attempted to create a lasting meditation practice?" and "You just suck at this!" and on and on. The antidote to this was...mindfulness. Meaning, I noticed what I was doing to myself, and I didn't try to reason back, necessarily, but more "note", which is something I learned in my own studies of mindfulness over the years. I've practiced noting throughout my journey with chronic anxiety, and it always brings peace and helps me to let go of that which I cannot control, mainly where my messy and creative mind can wander. I also argued with myself about stopping at the 25 minute mark...what happened was I naturally felt "done". The mediation guided me to scan and breathe into all parts of my body so when I reached the last part, I opened my eyes and was done...but the audio kept going, so I automatically was like, "Loser! You can't even finish this or be patient enough to listen for another few minutes."

I am SOOOOOOO MEAN to myself and it's ANNOYING, ALREADY!!!! I'm 4 effing 2. This needs to friggin stop....

However, what mindfulness is trying to show me is that I can NOTE and OBSERVE that I do this to myself and in that noticing, I can create space and step back from the judging and yelling and see it for what it is, which is simply my fight or flight bullshit I automatically do because of my anxiety temperament. I'm just trying to protect myself against what I perceive is the enemy and that is: failure.

What I have to remind myself of is that failure isn't the enemy. Failure is the teacher, the tutor, the education....it contains critical information about what I really value.

What I value and what all my many, many failures have taught me is that I am a seeker and a doer and as long as I am seeking and doing, I am fulfilling my purpose.

Right now, I'm at the top of a mountain...a place I was 7 years ago, though that was a different mountain; it was a mountain of a life dream achieved. I had completed my MFA and a collection of short stories that were the creative result of the pain I went through in high school.

Now, I've climbed another mountain and achieved my other life dream of becoming a licensed pychotherapist, and the bonus of this moment is that my own mental health journey is about to be published in an essay I wrote for OC87 Diaries...bittersweet.

You would think that my anxiety right now was nil. Gone. Nada.

And you would be very wrong. I'm having tremendous anxiety about—you guessed it—failing.

When you are at the top of the mountain, you have nowhere to go but back down...and I fear that.

My hope is that mindfulness will keep me in this moment, however difficult it is, but that if I am present I can stop worrying about "What if I fail?".

Read Days 5 and 6, here.

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