Sunday, July 17, 2011

Strength in Your Stride

"Life is a Journey, Not a Destination." ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Whether you are walking through grief from loss, dealing with anxiety, suffering through depression, or all three; I promise there is hope for healing and happiness along the way. It has almost been two years since I lost the person I thought I would be sharing my journey through life with (full story on Who Is the Watered Sprout page); and even though there have been so many obstacles on this unexpected route through grief, I have always somehow made it past the challenge and continued to press forward. One of the things Tyler used to say to me all the time was the quote I posted above. He would look me square in the eyes and gently remind me to enjoy all the ups and downs in the journey of life and focus less on the destination. Dealing with grief and anxiety is no exception to the rule. I have found it to be that much more important for me to "live in the moment" and not focus on what the future holds. When I find myself rushing through moments in life, or worrying about what obstacles are ahead of me on this path, I try to stop and remember Tyler's determined gaze and Arkansas accent lovingly reminding me to take a chill pill and be patient with life.

Yesterday morning I was reading more in the book Unattended Sorrow and  I really liked what the author says about the mindset through loss, and how simply walking can be a crucial tool to enabling ourselves to heal...

(Excerpts pgs. 96-104)
"When we investigate our feelings instead of blindly following them, relating to them with mercy and  mindfulness instead of relating from them with fear and despair, we can glimpse the difference between  freedom and bondage...Grief and all the inflictive emotions that are associated with it have a certain hallucinatory quality about them insists it is going to go on forever and only going to get worse...Fear says, "I will ruin you!" and a moment later, turning toward fear with mindful fascination, we find ourselves "a whole world new person."...We begin to discover just how much of our anger, our fear, and our distrust in everything but our pain is a manifestation of unattended sorrow...Unresolved grief results from not only the loss of a loved one but also from the way that life roller-coasters between clinging for dear life and a hollowness in the pit of the stomach. Most of our resentments in life, no matter how guilefully disguised by the mind, are actually a grief reaction spawned from earlier feelings of loss...It may take being lost in the maze of feeling totally hopeless and helpless before we can eventually surrender our pain, open it to investigation and eventual healing...When we investigate, we find beneath the grief of anger a reservoir of sadness. And beneath that sadness, an ocean of love beyond our wildest dreams...

Today, take yourself for a walk.Walking, much like singing, steadies the mind...At first we find the mind doing the walking; then the body soon takes over, and with that, our thoughts are free to flow...As we watch the beginning, the middle, and the end of each step.perhaps we notice thoughts with that same focused attention-the beginning, the middle, and end of each thought-before each blends into the next...After walking for a while, stop to rest...Sit quietly, reflecting with the mindfulness accumulated with each step fully noticed. Feel the body you sit in, listen for the sounds that take a moment to hear, feel the air on your skin..."

I have found this past year that it really has been helpful for me to briskly walk or run when I am dealing with emotional pain. There was a time, mostly the first year of dealing with the overwhelming grief, that I couldn't muster up the energy or desire to even leave my bed, room, or apartment, but eventually I worked my way out the door and then took one step at a time. As days passed, my walks turned into runs and I continued to add more strides each time. There are still emotional days that sneak up on me and drain me of my energy and motivation to to do much; and dealing with panic attacks and muscle complications from my IT band and hips have definitely been a challenge, but I know that each time I make it out the door and walk or run I am gaining strength in my body and my soul.

So, lace up your shoes and head out with me on a little run or walk to soak up some sun, feel the wind against your back, and set your thoughts free. You just might find that your worries stay on the path behind you, making a little more room for peace to move into your heart.


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