I was asked to share my thoughts during mental health awareness week for a Facebook group and have also shared it here. This is my experience of navigating my own mental health:
I came to Yoga, Reiki and nutrition as a result of suffering with anxiety, panic attacks and low level depression in my early twenties. Although not formerly diagnosed and I wasn't even really aware of what I was suffering with at the time as there seemed to be little awareness of looking after our mental health 20 years ago.
Looking back I now see that what was 'causing' my symptoms was quite complex and was a combination of poor diet and alcohol, stress from final year exams, overuse of antibiotics which disrupted my digestion but mainly it was my own thinking.
I was caught in a web of my own mind.
It was my thoughts about my situation that was making me suffer the most. My thoughts were on a loop of self criticism, beliefs of not being good enough and comparison with others and I am still susceptible to this thinking at times now.
What I have learnt is that healing doesn't happen in a linear fashion, there are loops and spirals and waves. Sometimes we make good progress for weeks, months, years and then we fall back a little. We peel off layer by layer and get ourselves out of our own way. Sometimes it happens slowly but sometimes insights and realisations happen quickly and we suddenly turn around how we had been thinking.
I have also learnt that all emotions come from thoughts, thoughts are energy and emotions are energy in motion. We can change a thought. We are responsible for how we think. Not only do we think but we are also the thinker and if we identify ourselves more with being the thinker rather than the thoughts we begin to see that we have some control over them. It takes constant vigilance and awareness to see the patterns in our thinking and to break unhelpful habits.
I am also learning not to beat myself up if I am experiencing a 'bad' emotion. Feelings will pass if we let them, like clouds moving across the sky. We tend to become attached to the 'good' emotions and want to feel this way all the time but without the bad how do we know that we are experiencing the good. We experience the whole array of emotions, they are a part of life, the joys of being human. And yes Yoga teachers are human too - I know it is hard to believe sometimes!
Practices like Yoga, Meditation and various forms of holistic healing all help to increase our awareness of our own minds and bodies. By becoming more intimate with ourselves and knowing ourselves better we can start to make better decisions and see more clearly. It has been said that we don't really need a 'practice' for this, we just need to become aware of our thinking. It is whatever works for you and to know this we simply have to follow what makes us happy, what fills us up and makes our heart sing.
For underneath our busy minds there is true happiness, real love, real joy and endless peace. For this is who we really are but we have forgotten.
Love yourself enough to take off the layers, dig beneath the level of thought, surrender to the flow of life and remember it again and again and again.
Claire is a Yoga teacher with a particular interest in teaching women to become more in tune with their bodies and listening to their inner wisdom. She is also a Reiki Master Practitioner and loves talking about all things spiritual and self care. Contact her to find out about her classes and treatments.