Mindfulness and I found each other about 11 years ago. I was at a serious crossroads in my life. I was in a rut, a bit of a depression to be completely honest. It was the second time in my life I had actually been in a true depression. It felt like everything was collapsing. I would keep looking up and around and I would see “good things”, I had a job, I was married to my soulmate, I had a lot of close friends. It felt like from the outside looking in life should be great. BUT from the inside looking out I was feeling unsettled, unhappy, and sad. At the time, if you had asked me I wouldn’t have been able to to tell you that. I was scared of my sadness. In fact, I would often try to run it out of my system, and I literally mean go for a run and see if I could run away from it. That tactic never worked.

I had been in my job at the time for 2 years. I didn’t like it. The team was good but we weren’t growing and everyone could feel the tension and pressure of that pain. We needed growth to sustain. We were a small agency and we just needed more clients. What was supposed to be a creative role became more of a sales role. The pressure to sell became consuming and I created an internal battle within myself. I kept telling myself how much I hated selling and the more I told myself that narrative the worse going into work became and my tension grew. My narrative turned into angst and my angst turned into fear. It’s amazing what we do to ourselves. I started to develop external symptoms of my anxiety. My sleep worsened (it’s always been bad, anyone who knows me knows that) and I was actually starting to have problems with extreme fatigue. My obsession with exercise increased (anyone who knows me knows that becomes one of my outlets for stress). My eye began to twitch (it was so annoying). My doctor at the time prescribed me anti-anxiety medication and sleeping pills. I took them because I didn’t have anything else to do at the time. They made me groggy but at least I slept a bit. And sometimes it made my eye twitch stop, sometimes. Really I just didn’t feel right.

At the same time because of my exercising my body started to scream at me. I was pushing too hard. My body was shutting down. I had trained and run a half marathon but my body was angry. My legs were in bad shape after the half marathon but I kept pushing. It got to the point that I was in so much pain I was seeing my masseuse one afternoon and he said to me “have you ever been to a chiropractor for Graston therapy?” My masseuse is always full of great ideas, you will notice this becomes a theme. He introduced me to my Chiropractor, Dr. Mel. I now fondly call her magic hands. My IT bands were broken down. It was so bad it hurt to walk. I had to stop all activity. For those of you who aren’t familiar with it, Graston therapy is a deeply intensive fascia tissue therapy using metal instruments. It’s highly invasive but extremely effective. I was devastated but I went into intensive treatment. After one month I was allowed to slowly walk on the treadmill and do yoga. Let’s be clear, at this stage in my life I had never done yoga. I actually thought yoga was for wussies. I had no choice. I started yoga. Fast forward 5 years I got my teacher certification. I struggled with yoga in the beginning. I actually developed something called yoga rage (that’s another story). I found the sanctuary of the studio calming and the people offered a connection I needed. It was during yoga practice that I first heard the term mindfulness used. We would practice meditation after class. It was short meditations but boy were they meaningful to me. I did not connect the true meaning of mindfulness but I recognized it was important. I spent the next three years healing my mind, my body and my soul through my work with Dr. Mel, Michael (my masseuse) and yoga. I opened myself up and closed myself down repeatedly over the next 5 years only to be able to create space as I realized that I needed to change.

I want to go back to my sleep for a moment. I promise not to linger here too long for fear you may fall asleep yourself. If you’ve ever suffered from sleep disorders you will understand that you reach a point where you think it is just the way you are going to have to live forever. You almost accept it as fate. There never seems to be a solution. BUT when somebody says they have something new for you to try, kind of the snake oil salesman, you are willing to do anything to cure this nauseating and draining disorder. My sleep had gotten really unpredictable and emotional. Not only was I suffering from my usual insomnia but I had developed this new unusual daytime narcoleptic type sleep disorder. I’m exaggerating a bit but not entirely. I would be okay in the morning and then suddenly out of nowhere extreme fatigue would overtake my body and brain with no predictability. I would just start to shut down and fall asleep at the most inappropriate times. I had no clue how to control it. I would have to hide out in the bathroom or my car to have naps. I would pray that no one would catch me. Often times if there was a meeting after lunch with a client, I would leave early and grab a snooze in my car in the parking lot before. My eyes and head felt like a train barreling into the station. I knew it had to stop.

Back to my unsung hero, my masseuse, I was visiting him again and he suggested I see a Naturopath for my sleep problems. I thought why not, Naturopath here I come! That summer I invested in the process and slowly discovered how many body was functioning. We dug deep and really began to understand what was happening internally. We peeled it back like an onion. I cleansed my insides (literally) and I rebuilt through natural ingredients. I discovered food allergies and intolerances, the root of my insomnia. I was even able to get off one of my prescription medications that had been diagnosed for stomach problems (known as GURD). I had been told I was going to be on these little purple pills for life. The clarity was coming back and when she recommended I take a Mindful Based Stress Reduction course to help me with my anxiety, I didn’t even hesitate. I had never heard of this practice before but it felt like it was calling to me in a strange way. I couldn’t believe how the next few months in this mindful world would change my life forever…

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