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I thought I was handling everything in stride.
But I wasn’t, and I should have noticed the warning signs far before I did.
My digestion was cranky, on and off for weeks, but I pushed it aside.
I was stressed, even though I had convinced myself I was okay. I was going to yoga five times a week. I was sleeping as much as a menopausal woman with night sweats can. I wasn’t cheating and eating too much sugar.
Well, that’s a lie. I was eating too much sugar and processed foods, and drinking too many coffees.
Handling the anxiety of an engineering college student takes a lot of love. Watching your 10-year sober husband push back a few beers nightly takes a toll. Navigating the sadness of a 93-year-old man who was just told his wife (your mother) has dementia is heart-wrenching. Noticing the beauty and sadness of dementia firsthand is humbling.
No wonder my Crohn’s came out of remission, but not in the typical manner of the past 30 years. I had self-diagnosed gallstones and various ulcers in the last 10 days.
I cleaned up my eating habits and introduced a stricter yoga practice. After about 10 days of clean eating, my digestive system was more normal than not. But I still did not feel like myself.
I realized that I was playing into self-pity, making myself sicker, so to speak. I was going down the rabbit hole.
Self-sabotage is a dangerous place; there was no one close enough to notice. My husband had been travelling for work, and compassionate awareness isn’t his strong point. My best friend is as challenged as I am in different ways, and we are both doing the best we can. Life is busy; sometimes you just go through the motions daily and check things off the list, and it turns into the Tom Hanks movie, “Groundhogs Day.”
It was a different rabbit hole than I had been through before, so maybe that is why I got so far.
I thought for a moment that that was a good thing; I must have learned a valuable lesson if my life was playing out differently. Now to continue to be present in my life for whatever was coming up, I took a detox bath, lit some sage, and went to bed.
It was a rainy overcast morning when the thunder rumbled me out of bed. One of those perfect mornings for a fresh start. My body was awake early with a new energy I had not felt in weeks. When the clouds broke, the sky was a beautiful hue of Carolina blue, the birds were chirping, chipmunks scurrying, and deer frolicking on the greenway. Spring was in bloom, and the air was crisp and light.
I had been thinking about meditating and writing for the last 10 days or so, but something always got in my way. Damn ego. Now, I see that none of that was important; what was important was me. I started listening and following that inner guru I had been pushing aside.
With my morning turmeric and ginger tea (which replaced coffee for gut health), I read a few slogans in Training the Mind by Chögyam Trungpa. The slogans inspired me and brought me back to a healthy path.
I meditated, practiced Tonglen, and finally, hour by hour, I began to wake up.
I journaled and wrote. It felt so much better to release the words I had been holding on to so tightly for days. I cancelled some complications in my schedule to make room for family. I listened closely to my body and scheduled a massage. I found a deeper breath; I felt myself start to heal.
Today was good, and tomorrow will be better. It all started with maitri, getting back to learning to gently love myself.
I find hope and calmness in the practices that maitri has taught me.
The slogans I spoke about are a way of changing the way you think. They help me tremendously. Maybe one of the 59 slogans will inspire you.
Here are a few that inspire me:
Slogan 10: “Begin the sequence of sending and taking with yourself.”
Slogan 9: “In all activities, train with the slogans.”
Slogan 6: “In post-meditation, be a child of illusion.”
Slogan 42: “Whichever of the two occurs, be patient.”
Slogan 54: “Train wholeheartedly.”