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Snakes and Ladders. Thursday October 31, 2013

We're going along fine, being mindful, taking exercise, having our emotional nutrition, trying our hardest. Then, just as we feel we're getting somewhere, out of the blue something happens that up-ends us. It might be a thought that somehow pops up, a phone call, reading something, seeing someone or something. Then, before we can say 'peace and calm' we're off to the races, mind out of control, emotions all over the place, and the result is rarely what we might choose. We've just hit a snake in our game of snakes and ladders. It feels devastating as we thought we were progressing well.

But, we forget, climbing the ladder of mindful practice is quite a challenge, slow, one rung at a time. Progress is often tiring, somewhat tedious and even plain boring. Snakes, on the other hand, come suddenly and we slide rapidly with little effort down into familiar places we are working so hard to get away from.

The trick, I guess, is to get the ladders longer than the snakes. Also, we need to remember that if this stuff was easy then there would not be monasteries and retreats in the middle of nowhere, away from adversity. Even with no activating agents in the environment our own minds will throw up plenty to trip us up.

But setbacks are just that, setbacks. Delays are not denials. Lets just see the snakes for what they are and develop strategies to cope with them too.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment on our Blogspot:

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Anonymous Thu, Oct 31st 2013 @ 8:53am

There speaks the voice of experience. Brilliantly put. I shall work on building my ladder a little taller today.

Anonymous Thu, Oct 31st 2013 @ 9:28am

Having been on a very long ladder this has come at the perfect time for me. I will not assume this is going to be a long snake but a minor setback i can climb back up from.

Anonymous Thu, Oct 31st 2013 @ 9:30am

Yes, so true. And I thought it was just me!

Anonymous Thu, Oct 31st 2013 @ 11:13am

No - it was just me too! In fact the reason this is written at 11 am is that I've only just dragged myself up, having woken early and fallen asleep again on the sofa contemplating my misery. I'm at the bottom (I hope) of the longest snake in years - just putting one foot in front of the other and wondering if I can manage the first rung of the ladder today.

Anonymous Thu, Oct 31st 2013 @ 2:34pm

Good luck.

Anonymous Thu, Oct 31st 2013 @ 6:25pm

Thankyou, Bill. Like one of the other posts, I slept in this morning. My "snake" began last night after a hurried meeting with a friend. His partner returned from work, and I felt unwelcome. I took my "cloud" home with me. This, of course, led to my "can't be bothered to get up" feeling. I see my G.P. next week. I know that I can't expect too much too soon. Your blog has helped me get over feelings of despondancy. I'm beginning to realise that I have been this way for most of my adult life. Peace and Love.

Anonymous Thu, Oct 31st 2013 @ 6:36pm

Thank you for an excellent post, and one that I really needed as I'm on a snake, having been on a ladder for a while. I think it is really important to accept it's a setback, not an irrevocable return to a low spot. I try to set a mental time limit, and if I'm not feeling better by then, seek help.

Anonymous Fri, Nov 1st 2013 @ 11:47am

Why us? I am coming to realise that I will never be normal and it sucks. Does anyone ever recover and become normal by using all the advice and techniques? Or is this a lifetime of short periods of being less anxious and miserable after a lot of effort, followed by the agony of being back at the bottom?

Anonymous Fri, Nov 1st 2013 @ 10:43pm

This happens on the more manic side of my emotions in my experience. I've been meditating on the metaphor of ratchets and how I can let something to put in a "drop limit" for my slide down. I'm also thinking about what I need to bring to the pivot or change moments where I seem most vulnerable to this rapid change of state.
Excellent piece. Thanks.

Elizabeth Fri, Nov 1st 2013 @ 11:49pm

Hello, I am sure some people do. I have spoken to one at least, if that comforts you a little :) Naturally most of those people will leave moodscope, so it may look here like nobody does. But for some people depression really remains a period in their lives which they left behind.

Anonymous Sun, Nov 3rd 2013 @ 1:16pm

I don't know if Elizabeth will pick this up - but just in case,' thanks for responding' It mattered to me to have someone respond and it was nice of you to take the time. Still rock bottom and dropping and cant seem to take any positive action, although I know I must. So many people relying on me to come through this but I just bring them down with me.

Anonymous Sat, Nov 9th 2013 @ 11:50am

Just wondering how you are doing 10 days on; it is true what Elizabeth says - in my stronger periods I don't use Moodscope - but when I am spiralling down I go back to Moodscope, and find comfort knowing that I am not alone; that loads of people feel the same as I do and understand how hard it is to battle on each day. I found it helped to focus on the next hour - and to write down what I did - even if it was only "made and drank cup of tea". Sometimes when I was really bad all I could do was focus on the next five minutes - putting the radio on would help then. I wish you peace of mind and heart. Frankie

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