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Warrior Training. Saturday September 9, 2017

Spiritual warrior that is.

My brain is wired differently than most people. This I have finally accepted.

For a long time I operated at two speeds. At my worst I was self destructive, enraged, paranoid, suicidal - a runaway train barreling down 100 miles an hour at anything in my path. This was usually followed by periods of shame, tiredness, loneliness, depression.

Luckily I have not experienced my worst in a long time, thanks to an arsenal of meds, an amazing therapist, and what I call my daily non negotiables - running, yoga, rest, limited drinking and meditation. Mindfulness meditation. I could not meditate for a long time. I couldn't sit still long enough to be alone with my thoughts. I didn't want to. The rage was too great, the depression too bleak, the shame too painful. But that was when I was trying to escape from myself. I didn't want to exist. I was ashamed of existing.

Through therapy - my therapist is also a practicing kundalini yoga teacher - I learned to sit with the thoughts and feelings. Not judge them but rather observe them and release them. When a particularly painful memory comes up, we use breathing and EMDR to help release the emotions behind the event.

I do my hardest work with her, but she has taught me a very effective technique for dealing with uncomfortable feelings on the spot when I'm alone. After a few deep breaths to settle myself, I concentrate on where in my body I feel the tension. Usually it's my stomach, but sometimes it's my heart, or my throat. I give the feeling a number from 1 through 10, 10 being the most intense. Then I give it a color and a shape. Usually red is the color that comes to mind, and sometimes it's a ball, other times a tight knot or even a knife. Then I just sit and breath and focus on the color and the shape and watch it change. It will change, from red, to perhaps yellow or green, to something else. The shape changes too. And then eventually I realize the tension is gone. Then I visualize the feeling floating down a chord or string from my spine into the earth, dissolving into nothing, hurting no one.

I like the term spiritual warrior because to me it means never giving up on myself. I can accept myself as I am, knowing that I am not perfect, that I have hurt others, that I have been hurt, and know that it is all part of who I am.

I can change my reality of myself, see myself differently than as someone who is just shameful and strange and unlovable. I have another speed now and it's becoming my norm - being calm and rational and dare I say happy. It's a daily practice - a lifetime practice - but it's worth it to me to be a warrior for my own peace of mind.

A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.

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Sally Sat, Sep 9th 2017 @ 6:22am

What a great, interesting blog, Lexi. Thank you for explaining very practically how it is for you. "An arsenal of meds ", I like that! ( expression) Fortunately I only take one a day, but I believe it is sufficient to prevent the worst of the anxiety and depression. I coped....or didn't cope!....for 40- odd years without meds, but for me, definitely, it is a necessary stabiliser.
I found your tips interesting, and very helpful too. I have never practised yoga because I am not good at group exercise, but your kundalini yoga teacher does sound great.
Sending best wishes this morning to you and all Moodscopers.

Poppy Sat, Sep 9th 2017 @ 12:23pm

I do yoga solo with I don't have to worry about idle chit chat while waiting to start clas or putting on an appearance of "I'm fine," when I'm really not fine. If I look silly, get it wrong, have to take an unplanned break, or pass gas with my fanny way up in the air, no one is the wiser.

Lexi Sat, Sep 9th 2017 @ 1:11pm

Good morning (in Chicago!) Sally and Poppy - I do only take one med a day - the arsenal referred to the meds et al - sorry my writing is not the best! I too struggled until I was about 44 and then started taking escitalopram. That was a game changer for me. Poppy - your description of "pass gas with fanny way up in the air" made me laugh out loud. :) I've been there too. That's why I arrive late and and park my mat against a wall :)

Ach UK Sat, Sep 9th 2017 @ 6:36am

Dear Lexi, Your blog struck many chords this morning. Acceptance is such a difficult thing. You sound like a fine Warrior, and growing in stature every day. It's uplifting to read you are now feeling more comfortable with all of yourself.
To come to understand that you are not ' someone who is just shameful and strange and unloveable'. Oh Lexi so glad you can now see beyond those horrible words . . . .
I have a little saying that helps me: Patience,Tolerance,Understanding,Acceptance PTUA (have to put them in that order or they spell a rude word in Spanish). But it's sometimes very hard to remember. :)) I am just a little Brave with 2 feathers yet a while, but working towards Warrior status.
Wishing you all the best on your journeyings.

Hopeful One Sat, Sep 9th 2017 @ 8:04am

Hi Ach UK - also in Italian as I discovered while making a dish called courgetini puttanesca.

Ach UK Sat, Sep 9th 2017 @ 8:48am

Oops Hopeful One, ha ha perhaps it is Italian and not Spanish. . . Apologies to Spanish people's if I got wrong language. H.O. I will look up your Italian dish, have rescued some courgettes yesterday from my 'lovely' slugs. Thank you, ?

Lexi Sat, Sep 9th 2017 @ 1:16pm

Good morning Ach UK! Okay I have to stop saying that as I realize it's only am in my part of the world :) I love your PTUA anagram - It is such a good thing to say to myself when I find myself in a stressful situation and cannot steal away to breathe. Keep journeying Brave one!

LP Sat, Sep 9th 2017 @ 6:41am

Hi Lexi,
Thank you so much for sharing your inspirational journey.
It's not easy to find the right mess and therapist as well as be disciplined enough to prioritise the non negotiables. But then as you describe it, I can see that in the same way that I wouldn't skip medication or a therapy session, the same would apply to the other daily practices.
You did all of that, no one else.

Your blog couldn't have come at a better time. I was lying awake wrestling with the rights and wrongs of a run in with the manager and wrestling with how I could shift such intense thoughts and feelings. The answers are very clearly laid out for me in your blog, to use right away and in the future. You've released my inner spiritual warrior! :) I'll print and keep this to hand maybe with a silhouette of a yoga warrior pose. I can't thank you enough Lexi. Good wishes to you and all LP xx

Lexi Sat, Sep 9th 2017 @ 1:24pm

Hi LP! I am so happy that my blog has helped you this morning. I hope the breathing helped release the energy behind those thoughts and that you were able to get some rest. If something is particularly painful I may have to do the breathing exercise several times throughout the day, but in the end it always helps me release the pain and come back to the present. xo Lexi

LP Sat, Sep 9th 2017 @ 5:13pm

Hi Lexi, yes the breathing helped and I got back to sleep, thank you! Xxx

LP Sat, Sep 9th 2017 @ 6:53am

Meds. Wish spellcheck wouldn't do that!
Ps will look up EMDR. xx

Bearofliddlebrain Sat, Sep 9th 2017 @ 7:37am

Lol, LP - thought you were going to say you'd look up the naughty Spanish word! ;) Bear x

Ach UK Sat, Sep 9th 2017 @ 9:05am

Goodness Bear, I nearly did Gardener's coffee snort when I read this, still chuckling away now. X Good luck with putting your wrestler to rest LG.

LP Sat, Sep 9th 2017 @ 5:13pm

Ha ha! Now I will! :)) xx

Marmaladegirl Sat, Sep 9th 2017 @ 7:49am

YES Lexi! As soon as I read your title I felt the connection. I once read a book called "The Way of the Peaceful Warrior" (by Dan Millman) and that's what I feel I am. Not a victim, a warrior. Your description of the yoga method you use to deal with difficult feelings really reminded me of another book I read. Have you heard of Ana Forrest? An amazing American woman who wrote "Fierce Medicine" and runs Forrest Yoga. She had an extremely difficult early life which left her with a lot of issues which she dealt with using yoga, including methods very like the one you describe. I thoroughly recommend her book - not just for the yoga but for an example of someone overcoming traumas through strength of will, persistence and determination. Your daily practice springs to mind. Stick with it Lexi. Thanks for the great blog! With warmest wishes from a fellow warrior. xx

Lexi Sat, Sep 9th 2017 @ 1:29pm

Thank you Marmaladegirl! I have heard of Ana Forrest! Now i am going to look up her book. It's amazing, isn't it? The idea of sitting and accepting and releasing the pain rather than (what was my m.o. for a long time) raging at everything in one's path. Thank you for your encouragement fellow Warrior! xo Lexi

Hopeful One Sat, Sep 9th 2017 @ 7:53am

Hi Lexi- you certainly are a persistent and great warrior having fought through so many obstacles! What you discovered in your battles was ' head space' allowing you to have some control over you thoughts and feelings rather than being controlled by them. The paradox of meditation is that those who need it most are the least likely to do it. I had a client who simply refused to do it as she could not stand the silence it created in her mind as she was just so used to her racing thoughts which is precisely what needed control! The technique of 'focusing ' on a feeling was developed by a psychotherapist called Eugene Gendlin. According to his theory what you achieved is a ' felt shift' releasing the emotion in the way you describe.Kundalini yoga is reputed to be be a very powerful way of balancing our nervous energy raising it from the base of the spine up to or brain / mind through a series of ' chakras' located at different levels in the body . One needs a trained Kundalini teacher to learn it properly otherwise it can lead to side effects like headaches and even a condition called a 'Kundalini psychosis'! EMDR is also very effective particularly in post traumatic stress disorder although no one seems to know how it works. One needs a trained therapist to achieve the desired result.

I think I have said enough and will shelf our laugh for today.

Lexi Sat, Sep 9th 2017 @ 1:37pm

Hello HO! Thank you so much for this insight. My therapist is amazing in that she will offer up different techniques to help "rewire" my brain, or rather, while she is showing me how to love and accept myself she is also teaching me how to change the way my brain processes stress. I too am not sure how EMDR works but it has been very effective in helping me release some painful memories. PS I miss the laugh today! Xo Lexi

Bearofliddlebrain Sat, Sep 9th 2017 @ 7:57am

Hi Lexi, what an interesting deep and meaningful and I have just tried your way of visualising, using colour and a will take practice but I can see that it could work. It didn't help having puppy pounce on me unexpectedly!
Note to self: do this when he is fast asleepies!

Like LP, I oooked up EMDR and there is quite a lot of information out there - seems to be an extremely helpful way of letting people keep the memories but see and feel them in a different way, without hurting themselves every time they experience the memory.

Thank you for a great blog and I hope this therapy continues to work and you can feel the tension slipping away down that cord.

Love and Bear hugs xx

Jul Sat, Sep 9th 2017 @ 8:44am

That's what I need Bear..EMDR..thank you for looking it up! When I think back to occasions when I felt awful, even though it was on the face of it to be enjoyed and treasured, for me, it always brings dread and a feeling of how I didn't cope. If EMDR can allow me to feel it in a different way, the way it was to most people and to me really (although that's not what comes into my mind), I will look into the therapy. You made me laugh about puppy. Julxx

Leah Sat, Sep 9th 2017 @ 9:17am

Bear, good to see your name. You make me smile. Just the word puppy pouncing makes men smile!! Jul, Like you and Bear and LP I didn't know what the acronymn meant but I had heard of eye movement and reprocessing theory. I am not sure how it works but I know people who have used it. Lexi, what a thoutful blog.Thanks for sharing your experiences. Leah xx

Lexi Sat, Sep 9th 2017 @ 1:55pm

Hello Bear, Jul and Leah! I too have a "puppy" - a 4 yr old 70lb dog that still insists on trying to sit in my lap when I meditate, so I usually do it when he's asleep too! It took me a long time to work up to EMDR. There were certain things that I just couldn't talk about and it took a year, maybe more, to feel comfortable enough with my therapist to face. We started out slow but now it’s another tool we use regularly in therapy to help me release negative thoughts. Xo Lexi

Oli Sat, Sep 9th 2017 @ 8:17am

Thank you Lexi. Your blog, for me, shows an approach I like too: the physical and the cognitive and the daily practise. (Although I'm more myself without medication; that's just me.)
The cognitive tools of ACT, CBT, and RFT are effective for addressing disturbing and unhelpful thoughts. And some aspects of trauma, (again, just my belief), lives somewhere in the brain beyond words and thinking therapy so getting physical works best. I can see how EMDR, yoga, and running tick that box. I cycle, lift weights, and run about :-)

Lexi Sat, Sep 9th 2017 @ 2:00pm

Ah, exercise! So important for me Oli! I see that it is to you too! I think that getting the heart racing and breathing hard clears the mind, and the focus on the activity helps deal with any negative thoughts that arise during it. I can go from feeling good on a run to bam! feeling wretched about a sudden thought, but I keep running and then it passes. Perhaps it's the breathing, like the breathing in meditation, that allows the thought to pass without me putting too much energy behind it. xo Lexi

Jul Sat, Sep 9th 2017 @ 8:50am

Good morning UK time Lexi. I love your descriptions of your cluttered mind and the way meditation helps. I have never thoight of myself being a warrior but I do feel I have a steely spirit and am now thinking perhaps I can be a warrior too but without the bows and arrows (except for one individual in my past!) . Marmalade's peaceful warrior suits me perfectly. You have come a long way Lexi and thank you for sharing your progress with us. It has helped very much. Jul xx

Lexi Sat, Sep 9th 2017 @ 2:04pm

Thank you for your kind words Jul. I don't see myself as a warrior with bows and arrows either. Rather more like Yoda. :) A small thing with a powerful mind. Although sometimes in my meditation Xena will pop in my head - did they have that show outside the US? - and I laugh out loud. xo Lexi

Orangeblossom Sat, Sep 9th 2017 @ 9:12am

Thanks Lexi for the blog which I thoroughly enjoyed reading. For me, practising mindful meditation through the headspace package, & visiting Moodscope daily is doing me a power of good. I had an extremely 'busy mind' which couldn't seem to calm down. Now with this package which is well worth it for me, I am slowly learning not to dwell on negative thoughts. Not easy.

Lexi Sat, Sep 9th 2017 @ 2:12pm

Dear Orangeblossom, I am so glad to hear that your mix of mindful meditation and Moodscope is helping you. Moodscope is such an important part of my daily practice too. It isn't easy to let go of negative thoughts. Every day it's a challenge for me, which is why I have made a pact with myself to never give up. Some days are clearly better than others, but overall I like the path that I am on. It’s better than my former path, which was like clinging to the side of a mountain during a thunderstorm. xo Lexi

Malachy Sat, Sep 9th 2017 @ 11:49am

Lexi, Thank you for sharing your story! I've found it very comforting and reassuring that someone else is achieving success and love the details of your methods. Thank you so much for this contribution and I wish you much peace and happiness in the future.

Lexi Sat, Sep 9th 2017 @ 2:14pm

Thank you for your kind words Malachy! I wish you equal peace and happiness my friend. xo Lexi

The Gardener Sat, Sep 9th 2017 @ 12:27pm

Thanks Lexi. The 'warrior' in me, manifested in a character which never gave in, seems to have laid down it's spear. A week of respite - what I was not going to do! I am suffering total inertia. I have had dire warnings that becoming 'epuisee' (worn out) would hit me. Would I believe it? Not likely. Now, whatever I try, within 10 minutes I've had enough. The slightest task seems insurmountable. I have to take advice - give in, stop, sleep, lots. Five weeks of no sleep and extreme worries for the future have taken their toll. My guardian angel is telling me 'stop fighting for the moment, rest, relax. ENJOY TV (Mr G hates me watching TV, although I am in the next room). I DO relax with gardening, but Mr Sod has put his big foot in it, torrential rain. I'm going to start regular walking, and, perhaps, borrow the neighbour's dog (always shut in a tiny courtyard) as a companion. I've got out an old exercise book(Rosemary Conley) and will aim for 10 minutes a day - because everything is beginning to ache - and no way of escaping the winter. So, my warrior is advising 'soft-pedalling' - tonight, mass, something nice to eat, perhaps two glasses of wine, 'Strictly' (a daughter has made me an addict) then Last Night of the Proms. My 'warrior' is a peaceful character now - survival - equals take advice, all the help available, keep well, relax when possible, accept the inevitable, don't fight it - in fact re-train my rebellious mind to try and swim in calmer waters. Mixed metaphors! How did I get an 'A' for 'A' level English, even with Corialanus, a tortured character, as one of the set books.

Lexi Sat, Sep 9th 2017 @ 2:26pm

Dear Gardener - I say listen to your guardian angel and rest, rest, rest :) You need it, you deserve it. Walking is so good for the soul I think, especially if you can find a quiet place to do it under the trees - now starting to change - and perhaps by a creek or river. I started stretching again recently - small morning stretches that actually feel lovely on these creaky bones. Your evening sounds lovely. Enjoy and rest. Xo Lexi

Poppy Sat, Sep 9th 2017 @ 12:33pm

This blog touched me personally. I used to feel like a warrior, then after a particularly rough time, a doormat/victim, incapable of protecting myself. I sometimes look across a room when I'm alone and see vestiges of the strong, confident woman I was. I wonder if she's still there? If so, how to reach out and touch her? Get her to emerge? She's very afraid of being steamrolled again.

Lexi Sat, Sep 9th 2017 @ 2:49pm

Dear Poppy, She is still there. She has always been there. This is the path of the spiritual warrior, for me at least. When I am most vulnerable and raw and I decide to sit with where I am in the moment, with all my fear and shame and sadness, she emerges, not with a bow and arrow, but with open arms. I start from where I am. I sit, release, accept. That is all I can do. And the more I do it the stronger I feel each day. I will never be able to rid my life of sadness, anger, hard times. That is part of life. What I can do is create compassion in myself. I am not perfect, neither are other people. What is my stuff, what is their stuff…I cannot control their stuff, but I can control the way I am affected by others. It is not easy. There are some things, like my separation, that have taken so much energy from me. But still I sit and when I just want to hide and cry, I do that too. When I am feeling stronger, I come back to the things that keep me out of the well - running, meditating, eating well, time alone. So for you, perhaps you just need time to heal, to be quiet, to sit, to cry. I wish I could do/say more for you. But I think your warrior is always there. She’s just waiting. Xo Lexi

Hettie Sat, Sep 9th 2017 @ 6:25pm

Thank you Lexi! Now I have the description of a great grounding practice i've heard about before but could never quite remember. i'm copying it on my phone.

Lexi Mon, Sep 11th 2017 @ 3:17am

I'm so glad you found it helpful Hettie. It has been life changing for me. I hope you find it beneficial as well. xo Lexi

Mary Wednesday Sun, Sep 10th 2017 @ 3:42pm

Yes. This. That's all.

Lexi Mon, Sep 11th 2017 @ 3:17am

Mary W your words mean so much to me. Thank you. xo Lexi

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