Thursday, June 02, 2016

Calm Mind During Crisis

It's been a rough couple of weeks around here, struggling with depression and anxiety for us both, as well as some potentially difficult changes in income and schedule. But I have found something very interesting out about my own mind. When I am in an actual crisis - a chance of physical damage or threat, possibility of life or limb lost, I am very clear about my choices. I can choose clearly what is needed for the situation, and separate out emotional needs from physical ones, prioritizing both, holding the paradox when they come into conflict with each other.

However, when the crisis is more emotional or mental, when it is a mental health challenge of either mine or my wife's, I lose a lot of that clarity. I know this likely doesn't sound that surprising, but it's been powerful to observe how that happens - when there is an external threat or cause, I can see clearly. When it is more internal or relational, things get foggy.

In particular, when I am struggling with my own depression or anxiety, I don't reach out for help. I don't value the need for self-care as much as I do when the cause seems immediate and obvious. It's not even that I resist being vulnerable - I am pretty ok with that. This all happens at a much deeper, less obvious level, wherein I don't even consider contacting anyone. It only becomes obvious to me I am avoiding getting support when I begin to avoid incoming calls, texts or emails asking how I am.

I am inspired by the calmness of my mind when things are externally rough. I am inspired to apply that, to find ways to engage it - through mediation, breathing, loving kindness and tonglen - knowing it is there helps me to trust I can build it for more difficult emotional times.

And at times like this, when I can get some clarity and relief - like I have today - I am grateful. So grateful for the teachings, my teachers, my students. So grateful for practice. I can feel how lucky I am - to have a loving partner, a good community and amazing opportunity to access teachings that help me not just survive but thrive. Wow. Yes.

PS Extra gratitude for the GoFundMe campaign, which reached our goal of $5000 by June 1 for the next volume of the Way of Seeing: Heart of Perception by John McQuade and myself. Double wow!

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