My biggest fear was that I’d never be able to keep a relationship because nobody would be able to handle my anxiety.
And lo and behold, when I expressed the full truth of who I was- not just my charming, sexy side- my anxious, fearful side- he was shocked and afraid. We really like each other, but the culture where he comes from isn’t as accepting of mental health, so this is challenging for him. We had an intense conversation and an unspoken agreement that we were going to take some space.
I was devastated. The first thing I did was walk into the weed shop and buy a joint. Then I went to the lake, got high, and grieved.
In my car, I leaned my seat all the way back so I could lie down. My depression just wanted me to do nothing but take a nap. But I had plans to go hiking with my dad, so I had to get my lazy ass up and put my pack together.
Mindfulness has three goals:
-Increase control of the mind, instead of letting your mind control you
-Experience reality as it is
We hiked through almost 8 miles of lush, green trails. I love practicing mindfulness on a hike. I’m engaging my body, and there is so much beauty to focus on.
When we’re mindful, we:
I filled my thoughts with descriptions of what I was seeing. “Those are some ferns sprouting from the soil.” “There are some trees.” “There’s a rock with a plant sticking out of it.” Etc.
Then I would switch to observing the sounds around me. The birds chirping, the crunching of my shoes on the dirt path, the deep silence. The drum of my heart beating from inside my chest.
And then I would engage with what my body was feeling. How my feet felt against the ground. The feeling of my heart beating. Of my lungs contracting and expanding as I breathed heavily on the steep inclined trails.
When my dad talked, I tried my hardest to fully participate in the conversation without being distracted mentally.
But thoughts of my boyfriend who I might lose came to me about 100 times a minute, and I had to gently coax them to leave my attention every time. You can’t suppress them- you have to acknowledge them, and treat them gently. Just turn your attention back to mindfulness, no matter how many times you have to do it.
Mindfulness isn’t about all distress being eliminated. It’s simply about having the present as your anchor. It keeps you from spiraling down.
If I didn’t know about mindfulness practice, I would have spent the entire 8 miles in my head, worrying about the past (could I have approached things differently, and maybe it wouldn’t have turned so sour?), worrying about the future (am I gonna lose him?), stuck on depression and fear.
Through mindfulness, I was able to realize: I am here, in the forest among these beautiful trees and flowers and birds and butterflies. These thoughts I’m having are just thoughts. These are thoughts of the past and thoughts of the future. They are not what I am experiencing right now. I enjoy being out here in the forest. I’m having a really good time.
Mindfulness made me realize that I’m ok without him, and I might even be better off without him. I hope for the best, whether the best is for us to be together or apart. It’s too soon to say how this will turn out, but I know that the more I practice mindfulness, the more equipped I’ll be to keep myself solid if things turn for the worst.