Let's always talk
In honour of Bell Let's talk last week, I wanted to start off this week (and new month) by keeping the conversation going! Mental health has become a topic that, thanks to movements like #BellLetsTalk, is becoming easier to address online, with others and within ourselves. Not to be a Negative Nelly but there are still flaws when it comes to campaigns like this and part of it, isn't the campaign itself. It's us. For those suffering with poor mental health (or know friends and family who are), this is more than a hashtag, more than a one day occurrence, this is our lives. To have people tweet, hashtag and participate is amazing, but to have everyone keep quiet till this time next year is problematic. The conversation surrounding mental health should come to a point where it feels natural, open, graceful, patient, supportive and non-judgemental. All the time should be the right time to openly (or discreetly) express your truth ("Truth" as in present circumstances and honest feelings). Whatever you're going through, have gone through, worry about, obsess about etcetera are all valid. Know that they're okay and that you are going to be more than okay. I realized recently that since talking about mental health and expressing my own experiences on my blog, that the process of sharing knowledge is just like my yoga practice. Opening the lines of communication is something that's going to take time, patience, self-reflection and daily practice.
Before I go any further I wanted to start off with the self. The self is who you are. Not down to the nitty gritty stuff, I'm not referring to your soul or future self, but where you are right now in your life. What kind of person are you? How are you feeling lately? What's your environment like? Who are your closest people? These questions can be difficult to answer, especially if you've been avoiding them for weeks or for years, but they connect you to what your life actually is. In yoga, starting a new pose that your body isn't used to will definitely be uncomfortable and stressful, but the way to ease the discomfort is to question it. Why does this side of my body hurt more than the other? I wonder what would happen if I stick with this? What would happen if I stopped comparing how my pose looks like to everyone else in the class?
Evaluate yourself, work on yourself, be kind to yourself and be completely honest and vulnerable with yourself.
Another thing that helps you unravel and better understand yourself, is to dissect your feelings. This is now second nature to me and goes like so...
Well why am I frustrated?
I'm frustrated because I always feel like I'm running out of time
Because everyone seems to be ahead of me
Why do you think that?
Because they seem so accomplished AND happy
Why don't you believe that you can also attain that?
Because everyone is always two steps ahead/I'm not smart enough/I can't succeed and be mentally sane
Whatever bubbles up to the surface, don't be scared of where you are. When you are aware of your present state you can now work to get the heck outta there. Pushing negative nagging thoughts down doesn't benefit anyone and is only wasting your time. The sooner you face your internal thoughts and beliefs, the sooner you can build a better relationship with your mind.
Breathe. In yoga, you just got to let go and breathe. Just take the loudest exhale that you've taken all day and then carry on with your day. Let go of expectations, let go of frustration, of stress and all the bad vibes. When you start getting caught up in what you think a pose should look like that's when you begin to lose the whole purpose of being on the mat. Yoga is about falling down, accepting the "embarrassing" fall in the middle of class and trying again. Same thing goes when finding self-awareness, let go of your expectations of what you should be thinking about, what you should be feeling and analyze what comes up to the surface. Not fighting it or rejecting it but saying "I see you and you're welcome too".
As you deep dive into your mind, remember to be patient and to be kind the way you would if you were talking to a friend or a child. Step out of your body for a second and be your own little therapist, simply asking open ended questions, listening attentively, free of judgement. Approach with ease and grace knowing that you can try again tomorrow, you have people that care (if you don't, know that I care about you) and that you are not alone.
Lastly, opening the lines of communication for men, people of colour and everybody else to talk about something that society has shamed us for talking about requires more from us. It requires each individual to take the time and patience to self-reflect on a daily basis. Like in yoga, I hope you all carve out a sacred time of the day, get comfortable with being uncomfortable and treat yourselves kindly all in order to be able to share your truth all throughout the year.
“Many people suffer from the fear of finding oneself alone, and so they don't find themselves at all.” ― Rollo May