February 13, 2022

Healing my Monkey Mind after a Mental Breakdown.

“Touch your inner space, which is nothingness, as silent and empty as the sky; it is your inner sky. Once you settle down in your inner sky, you have come home, and a great maturity arises in your actions, in your behavior. Then whatever you do has grace in it. Then whatever you do is poetry in itself. You live poetry; your walking becomes dancing, your silence becomes music.” ~ Osho

~

I was sitting in a small, hot room in an inpatient facility with a long-term five-month stay requirement. This was after having a mental breakdown from bipolar disorder. It was the first breakdown of two in my life. It was also my first diagnosis. I didn’t want to be there. I felt like the people were just existing, not living there. Boredom broke me. I had played all the games in the first few days. If you didn’t have a smartphone or access to one in the first week (there were levels of privileges you could earn such as this), didn’t like watching TV, or didn’t like reading their outdated books, it was hell. Cabin fever also broke me. It was winter, and I was stuck inside as we couldn’t go on daily walks.

Since it was winter, the only way I could relieve myself of being overheated in my room was to crack open the window. However, this led to freezing air blowing toward me. I went back and forth all night, not getting any sleep. At some point, I just sat up and wanted to give up. We weren’t allowed to leave our rooms except for bathrooms or an emergency. I didn’t have a fan (they brought those in years later when I had a relapse). So I suffered. And in my suffering, I decided to make the best of this moment. Randomly, I decided to meditate.

I didn’t tell anyone how much I suffered there, so most of it was in silence. I sat with my legs crossed and my eyes closed on my bed. I tried to detach from the experience and find inner peace despite the discomfort.

I meditated all my life, however, I always struggled with the “monkey mind” where your mind can’t stop reeling. On top of that, at that moment I was catastrophizing. I wondered, “Will I ever get out? Will I ever get on the right meds? Will I ever have a life again?”

I started deep breathing where I placed one hand on my belly and one on my rib cage. I felt my belly expand and retract as I inhaled and exhaled. I focused only on the breath, not the struggles I was facing.

Then suddenly something happened. It was an awareness that surpassed the situation I was in. I would do something about this once I got out. I would share my insights with someone who oversees it all and advocate as much as I could to end mental health stigma. Then I decided I would never complain about my life again. I had taken so much for granted until my breakdown. I had been on top of the world before it happened, which was a manic experience. I would stop anything that did not truly benefit these purposes and only hold onto what did.

I no longer needed those who abandoned me after I was hospitalized. I no longer needed a certain status or to maintain my image. I no longer needed to hide this struggle.

I didn’t want anyone to know why I was here or even that I was here at all. In my moment of meditation, I decided to simply own it. And not just own it, to use it for something. For good.

After I made these decisions and made a pact with myself, meditation happened on a different level. My thoughts suspended, and I experienced complete silence and surrender. I felt this stillness and inner peace that uplifted me and removed me from the hardships I was facing. As I was in a space between my thoughts, which lingered a few minutes, total bliss came through. I was happy.

Happiness made no sense coming from where I was. Happiness was not what I thought would happen. Happiness didn’t mean it was all over. Happiness was just there to hold me as I healed.

This bliss lasted a while. I finally fell asleep knowing I reached some guidance.

I advocated for things on different levels with the mental health system and my personal journey later. But I didn’t achieve that level of bliss from meditation again for a while.

When I was discharged after my second stay after a relapse a few years later, I was on disability. Due to bad side effects, I didn’t go back to work as I tried different medications. I finally found the right medication combination. To me that in itself was a miracle.

I had another moment of total bliss and understanding of my true strength. I meditated in my room this time at home. I listened to the sound of my dog snoring and a Mimi Page guided meditation called “Reflection” on YouTube. I felt like I was in a trance.

I had a few visions.

The first was about my inner child. I had a vision of a lightning bolt between me and my younger self. We were disconnected due to trauma. She had always been trying to break through. I dealt with her in therapy and in my writing. But I never could heal her.

The second vision was us holding hands as though we finally came together.

The third vision was a half-rooted tree. The roots were sticking up from the ground on only one side. I knew this was about childhood trauma, that the foundation was unstable.

The fourth vision was of me praying with chains breaking around my wrists. This was about my faith helping me to overcome mental illness by finding the right pills which I was now stable on.

The fifth vision I saw of me meditating reflected back on me. I had a rainbow aura and I was listening to my inner child really showing me her strength. She had hidden the trauma in a part of her brain until it was ready to come out. I was shown that her awakening started when I was in college and led to suicidal feelings because I couldn’t handle the pain she went through. When I was in my early 30s, she kept coming and going but I cradled her and told her it was all okay now. My inner child’s dilemma was trying to figure out how I could feel it all without falling apart so it could be released. When I saw us holding hands I was shown that it was healed.

I’ve meditated many times after and have had a few other visions such as a chess piece showing I beat others at their games and won the game called life. This chess piece was me moving through the mental health system with submission then later letting people know what I went through. In that way, I won. The experiences I had came full circle and connected.

Meditation can be a great way to heal and listen to your inner wisdom. Mine came with insights and visions. It won’t always be that way. I’ve only experienced that bliss a few times. I know it’s rare to have it happen at all. My monkey mind was silenced if only for minutes at a time. I was relieved from childhood trauma and the trauma of the mental health crises I faced in life. I found myself in that hot then cold room feeling safe and relaxed.

Mindfulness was the answer to my boredom. Mindfulness made me see the bigger picture with a sense of purpose. Mindfulness brought me to a place of hope and resilience. Mindfulness made me over from a soul standpoint where I began to focus on things that mattered. Mindfulness answered my broken heart and restored me to who I am today.

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