One of the most important things I have been learning in the past 5 years, is to re-connect to myself. I lived in a disconnected state for many years, and I suffered during every one of them. When disconnected, it’s incredibly easy to wrap yourself up in ‘busy’ and pretend that everything around you (and within you) is rosy.
The brain will often look for the path of least resistance, the thing that will cause us the least immediate ‘stress’, but seldom considering the long term impact. The body though, is there to send us the deepest of messages and if we ignore it we are never really in tune with who we are. If you let it, the brain will win each and every time.
I used to think that the major disconnection happened for me when I was 19 and chose to attach myself to the wrong person. Given I was with that person for 12 years, and only got married after 8 years together, it could be natural to assume that it all suddenly went wrong after we got married.
The truth though, is that it was always the wrong relationship, and I was already disconnected. If I had been able to listen to the different parts of my body then, I would have realised quickly that this wasn’t the right choice for me and I would have changed it. Instead I swallowed the awkward feeling I felt in the pit of my stomach and carried on regardless, ignoring my instinct.
My body deteriorated gradually over the years, my weight fluctuated wildly, my skin was often in a bad state and I became a shadow of the person that I used to be. I chose to keep myself suspended in a state of lovelessness, physically and mentally and treated myself cruelly.
I’ve talked to you before about the different forms of inspiration I met in the form of people, who inspired me to live differently. Meeting those people sparked something in my brain that went against the way that I was living, and those thoughts ended up manifesting themselves physically. Shortly before I left my ex husband, I was physically unwell, with chest pains, intense tiredness and other minor aches and pains. My body had become tired of being silenced, and was starting to scream at me. The feeling in the pit of my stomach, became voices in my head that got louder and louder until I had no choice but to listen. And I left.
In the years since then, through starting to make loving choices, my connection to my body has been re-established, and is forever deepening. Through my decision not to consume any form of stimulants whatsoever around three years ago, now when my body speaks to me, I can hear it. When I am tired I know I need to rest, when I ache in certain parts of my body, I consider why that is, and what my body is telling me. Also, and even more importantly, I am learning how to listen. Rest is not something that comes naturally to me, so I emphasise the word learning here!
Around the time I left my ex husband, I also turned off many media outlets and their influence on my brain. I’d spent the previous 10 years as an utter TV addict, watching something at every available opportunity. If I wasn’t watching I was reading, but never anything of any substance, just crappy magazines or newspapers. All of it was white noise. White noise to distract my brain and further re-enforce the disconnection from my body.
Turning off meant learning to spend time truly ‘with me’ and to be prepared for whatever that might expose in me. When the time came though, it wasn’t even a decision. The desire to fill my brain entirely with anything other than me had gone.
I’d like to tell you that it has all been as simple as that, but it hasn’t been. Sure, feeding myself with crappy TV and magazines was definitely not to be my future, but the brain is a tricky little fellow, and over the years I have discovered new and seemingly more positive forms of distraction; music, art and the internet at large.
Now these things are truly wonderful, and a true blessing in my world. But I have recently become aware of where those things have become my new ‘Big Brother’, the thing that I place in the way of me truly connecting to me. Things I will sacrifice my rest and general well being for.
Being an all or nothing kind of person, it’s important that I keep a check on myself and ask; what is my reason for doing something and is distraction at the heart of it.
Listening to music when walking/travelling is a big one. Music is my drug. When I listen to it, at times I am completely lost. When I am dialled into it, I might as well be walking through the world with my eyes closed. In being so connected to the music this can sometimes mean disconnecting from me. The thing I am working on right now, is spending as much time as possible connected to me and living as the truest version of myself.
That isn’t to say I don’t listen to music when I move around anymore. But when I do, I am choosing to listen and enjoy, and not just use it as a form of distraction. On the days when I am feeling a little low, or perhaps not quite ‘me’, I choose now to move around in relative silence to support my connectedness and be fully present in the moment.
It’s amazing, when you watch the world around you, you start to become aware of just how disconnected we all are. One glance around a tube carriage will show you that. Distraction has become our modus operandi and almost entirely caused by consumption; mind, body and soul.
Stillness is key. As is learning to respect and honour the natural ebb and flow of your body, and its natural rhythm as much as possible. To re-connect we need to SLOW down and BREATHE. Sounds simple right? It isn’t. I’m sure I am not the only person that finds this hard.
Here are some of the meditations I have found most supportive, via UniMed Living – a constant source of positive inspiration for me. Stillness, just like most things, is something you have to keep practising in order to get better at, and I am definitely prepared to put in the work.