meditation

day 24: the flu: healing the body + mind, pt. 1

Tuesday, 3/29/16 

I have the flu. Not the “I have a cold flu” - the legit flu. You know, the one where your feet hit the ground in the morning to get out of bed and your whole body lights up achey in pain. That flu. Dang it.

I spent the entire day in bed, sleeping on and off… and it has me thinking...

How come our physical symptoms are so easy to hear and attend to, but when our spiritual body is sick, we stave off taking the necessary steps to heal? We ignore its signs and symptoms. We write them off as unwarranted, weak, or as something we just don’t have the time to deal with. Then, inevitably, whatever it is that those warning signs have been desperately trying to get us to notice, comes crashing down like a ton of bricks (usually at a very inconvenient or embarrassing time.) 

It’s interesting - in the last couple of years, there has been a health and wellness industry uprising of sorts. And while of course eating organic, unprocessed foods, and bringing your own tote bags to the farmer’s market has been on the agenda, the seeming backbone of this fairly new and thriving movement is our mental and spiritual health, both individual and collective. Almost any article on the subject, whether it’s about organic foods or non-toxic beauty products, also makes it a point to mention our mental state - touting the benefits of a regular mindful meditation and/or yoga practice. As if the world is finally recognizing that, “hey- this planet can actually be a pretty tough place to live.” 

But to go from living a life where we don’t really think about our own hearts and minds, to one where it regularly occurs to us, takes practice - and bravery. The fear of being selfish can be plaguing. As soon as we can understand the concept, we’re taught not to be self-centered. 

Friends, there’s a difference between being self-centered, and taking the time to center yourself. 

Life is not centered. It’s all over the place - that’s what makes it a wild adventure. I can’t think of anything more boring that knowing exactly what is going to happen in every moment. There are however, two sides to every coin. The unpredictability can be exciting. The unpredictability can also be heartbreaking.

The human body, if sick, ignored, or taken care of poorly, shuts down. We feel sickness coming on, we push through and ignore it, and a few days later, we find ourselves stuck in bed, worse off that if we’d just decided to take better care of ourselves at the first sign of a problem. Our minds are no different. If we don’t take the time to do some self inventory, and listen when our spiritual body is telling us it needs something, we will inevitably crash. If we ignore how we feel or numb our feelings with a substance or other habit, those things don’t go away. They just get put in a pressure cooker… 

[check back on Thursday for part 2 - for now, I'm going back to sleep to dream of here... my thoughts need time to formulate, and my body needs more sleep]

"Every time I stand before a beautiful beach, its waves seem to whisper to me: if you choose the simple things, and find joy in nature's simple treasures, life and living need not be so hard."           - Psyche Roxas Mendoza

"Every time I stand before a beautiful beach, its waves seem to whisper to me: if you choose the simple things, and find joy in nature's simple treasures, life and living need not be so hard."           - Psyche Roxas Mendoza

52 Days

out of the ashes and into the light

When I sat on the beach meditating that morning (you may already be like, "oh geeeeez make it stop!") and had the thought, “if JD can do that, what can you do for 52 days?”, I decided to begin a 52 day challenge. I’d been stuck in a negative space (that's a kind way of putting it) for months and wanted to drastically change my life. So, I starting thinking of personal mantras that I could adopt for 52 days, all with the underlying feeling that this was a silly, new-age-y, foundation-less idea that I was concocting. Basically, I was annoying myself. 

But then I felt prompted to count out 52 days on my calendar. Day 52 would land on April, 26, 2016. Uhhh what? That couldn't be right. So I counted again. And again. And one more time for good measure because I don’t believe in coincidences, (also because anything in the math realm, even something as rudimentary as counting, is not my strong suit.) My friends might tell you that I have a tendency to take things to be signs. I can categorically say that this was not one of those instances. Because of that, I decided to not only go on this journey, but write about it. Don’t fear - that idea was immediately accompanied with humbling and self-deprecating thoughts like: “Becky, who the actual eff is going to want to read a '52 day journey' about some random, normal chick who doesn't have any idea what it is she's journeying toward or even what she wants out of it, inspired by a random encounter on an Antiguan speedboat?” But that date...

Two years ago, on April 26, 2014, nine months after moving to New York to pursue my dreams, I was drugged at a bar, taken to an apartment with the promise of finding my missing friend, forcibly held there, assaulted, raped, and then physically thrown into the rain with the trash. It changed the course of my life. 

Sadness, anger, depression, anxiety, fear, recklessness, shame, confusion, pretense, destruction, excess, bitterness, self-hatred, and doubt became the foundations upon which I very secretly, and somewhat unknowingly, rebuilt my life. (Geez, that's a lot of emotions for one sentence.)

I didn’t want to be hurt. I didn’t want to give my attackers any power. I didn’t want to be another statistic. I definitely didn’t want people to identify me as this. And I certainly didn’t want anyone to know the deep wounds, previously healed with some antiseptic and a bandaid, that this ripped wide open. I didn't want to think about any of it.

So while bleeding out, I stuffed some lap pads in there (avid Grey’s Anatomy watcher over here,) abandoned my dreams, and said I was fine and “healed."

I “knew" that one day I would understand why this was allowed to happen and that "God was at work somewhere in it." But I didn't actually believe that. I just knew it's what I was supposed to say. When you really know something is true, you feel it in your bones (or in your fingers and toes… Love Actually anyone?)

I felt like I was being blown around in a tornado. But because I didn’t want to be feeling enraged and embarrassed, I decided to "trust God" the way I have been taught to my whole life. And I believed that the longer I blindly trusted Him, the healing would just come; the more that I got on with life and ignored it, this would fade into the background. That I was exhibiting faith. But I wasn't and it didn't.

Within a month, I stepped into new leadership roles at my church. Within nine months, I decided to start a foundation (this is how I ARISE was originally born) that would raise awareness towards the issue. But being a highly functioning, jerry-rigger of an emergency surgeon on my heart helped no one, least of all me, and the in-between was filled with patterns of self-destruction, often hidden in the dark of late night and early morning hours. 

I wanted I ARISE to be a non-profit, activist, organization that pioneered change, raised awareness and shifted the reality of so many women in the world. My free time was filled with researching sexual assault statistics, finding people who wanted to partner with me, watching documentaries, building a website, putting together a support team, partnering with a production company and filming the beginnings of a documentary. But I quickly burned out. How could I build something designed to help others when I hadn’t even begun to truly pick up my own pieces? But instead of asking for help, I ran in the opposite direction. I stepped down from leadership in my church and within two months, stopped going to church altogether. 

A blog was certainly never on my agenda. The thought just kind of arrived in my mind a few days prior to meeting JD, and I immediately dismissed it. I’m one of those cynics who is almost instantly annoyed at anyone who starts a sentence with, “Well on my blog…” - oh yes, please do tell me about your surely earth shattering blog filled with political opinions, healthy recipes, spiritual guidance, conspiracy theories, and an essay on how if you were the coach of your favorite sports team, they would absolutely, positively, never have suffered such an embarrassing and clearly avoidable loss to                          (insert winning team here.) Not that I don't understand the anger that drives that last one - I mean, I still feel personally victimized by the Texans loss to Miami last season where at the half, they were down 41-0. Sorry. Not the point and I will now get back on track.

Despite my hoity toity attitude toward the blogosphere, here I am blogging, so clearly God humbles our negative attitudes and pride even when it blows - actually let’s just be real here, being humbled pretty much always blows because it means admitting you're in the wrong….oh wait, is that just me? 

So the idea is this: one entry for each of the 52 days of this journey. The day of the idea is March 5 and will go up tomorrow, April 30. Day 1 = March 6 = May 1. 

I have no idea what these 52 days will hold, and therefore, no freaking clue what this blog will look like. Today is March 14, aka day 9. I started writing this introductory entry on March 8, aka day 3, and it'll probably get another edit before it goes live. All other entries will be in the voice of that present day. Here’s what I do know: this will not be a curated blog where everything falls under the same well thought out theme, follows a fluid storyline, or depicts photos all edited the same way for aesthetic consistency. It will be honest (likely to a fault) and at times will seem random - but uh HELLO, we all have a million random thoughts a day...I'm just the ding dong that's putting mine out on the internet for all to see - I'm also the ding dong who is immediately beginning to question this decision.  

But here I go - 52 days, huh? Doesn't seem so long until you come up with a weird idea to span them, and then it's like uhhhh what was I thinking? But if JD could survive his 52 days (I tell you all about that tomorrow,) I can get it together for this. And if I can't, well, I've got a lot more to figure out than I realize! 

 If you've stuck it out thus far, thanks for reading. Hopefully you'll come back and see what happens. 

One thing I've learned already - adventure isn’t for the faint of heart, that’s for dang sure.