Saturday, April 12, 2014

Meditation: Think you can't do it?

I used to think meditation meant clearing away all my thoughts and sitting in total blankness. And I could never do it.

After taking the 40 Day Manifesting Breakthrough Video E-Course with Cindy Eyler and attending a retreat with her, I learned a new way to meditate that is simple and accessible. Instead of focusing on nothing, we focus on creating what we want in our life and letting go of what we don't. I know this sounds really woo-woo, but I have heard time and time again how meditation can help with bipolar. And for me, it definitely has.

I've been in partial hospitalization programs that taught Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) with techniques like thought-stopping, affirmations, and visualization. It seemed so silly and futile - as if all my problems would disappear with simple wishes. I felt like my problems weren't being taken seriously if all I had to do was close my eyes and hope them away.

The interesting thing about Cindy's course is that she intuits CBT techniques, but wraps them in practical spiritual knowledge. She teaches how to connect with God, Spirit, The Universe, or whatever you consider to be Source, and how to use that energy effectively.

Tune in to my next post, which will feature a sample meditation script for bipolar people.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

The Perpetual Problem of How to Shift Gears: 9 Steps I Followed to Gain Mental Focus Today

I'm currently working all weekend on a project for my company. Do I love my work? Absolutely! But do I want to be doing this on a weekend? No! Especially when my mind is on fire with bipolar brilliance in several other areas? Heck no!

But, it pays the bills and it has to be done.

Shifting gears from my present hypomanic creative and spiritual energy to something as mundane as even my interesting work is tough. Shifting gears tends to be a challenge for many bipolar folks, which is why I hope you will find this post helpful.

So, I asked myself: What can I do to make sure I meet my work deadline?

First, I did allow myself a few hours to write emails, poetry, and talk on the phone. I thought this would relieve a little of the pressing pressure of hypomania, and it did to some extent, but of course it also cemented my focus on these things rather than my work!

When I talked to my mom, she (validly) expressed concern for the past 3 days of hypomania.

So, I thought: OK, how do I put the breaks on and focus on 1) my mental health and 2) my absolutely must get done work?

Here's what I did:

  1. Allowed myself "one more fun thing" but limited it to 10 minutes
  2. Committed to getting the work done and promised I would swim tonight (which always helps center me). 
  3. Ate some protein (which seems to help bring me down a little),
  4. Did a 7 minute "work break" meditation (on Android's "Take a Break" meditation app - if you are on Windows or iOS, there must be something similar. I encourage you to find it or something similar that works for you!).
  5. Recognized my space was untidy and that was not promoting my productivity. Took 3 minutes to briefly straighten things and position myself to get down to business. (Cleaning seems to center me and an uncluttered space is optimal for my performance.) 
  6. Determined which music to play as I worked. I opted for Musique du monde: Argentine - FlĂ»tes Et Guitares by Guillermo de la Roca. (It's not manic, but it is a little upbeat and got me in a good flow. It's instrumental and beautiful. I know the album so it is easier to flow with it. )
  7. Put away my phone and closed my browser with personal stuff to minimize distraction. 
  8. Put in half an hour of solid work and accomplished a large portion of what I needed to.
  9. Took a 10 minute break to come write this to help anyone else who may need it and so I would remember it in the future!
I hope this process may be helpful for you. I know I will be using it in the future as it really seemed to help.  

For you, you might want to think about what helps you be productive, then create a list of what you will do to focus. Even writing the list helps to initiate a shift in your energy as it is always powerful to write out our goals. Think about obstacles to your performance (phone, Facebook, emails) and allow yourself to set them aside. If you are flooded with hypomanic brilliance, allow yourself to set that aside, too, and have faith that it will still be there in a more clear and centered way when you are able to indulge in it.  Think about what will enable your success (meditation break, cleaning, eating a snack, the right music, etc.) and prepare those things. Then, execute with dedication!

It only took  25 minutes for me to prepare to work and it saved me a lot of scattered, empty time to prepare to focus and achieve what I need to do. Taking the time to regroup when you are scattered, but need to shift gears is worth every second of that time. You might not knock out your goals without it. 

Thank you and remember that *your* success is important to me!

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Coping With Success

Why would success be something we have that requires coping skills? Shouldn't we be celebrating? Of course, it is great to feel proud of our career victories. For bipolar folks, though, this can lead to a myriad of feelings.

Some people may feel that this is a validation that they are well and wonder if it is ok to stop medication. Some people may feel like a fraud and think, "If they only knew who I really am...". Others may find grandiose ideas of their abilities are triggered by recognition. Or maybe people feel uncomfortable in the spotlight. As always with bipolar, we walk a delicate line where even good things can be problematic if we do not monitor ourselves.

Recently, I was recognized at a company meeting for my contributions to our Sales team. I was very pleased, of course, but I was also cautious. I chose to re-dedicate myself to the program that has enabled my success: getting good sleep, regular therapy, taking meds, setting limits at work and at home. I made sure to check in with myself and be centered; I didn't allow the good feeling of praise to unhinge me and elevate my mood. Rather, I tried to foster a feeling of wise content. I allowed myself to take in the success, but did not allow it to destabilize me.

Some may see this as fun-wrecking, but I also considered what I have to lose now if I allow myself to succumb to drastic mood swings that could land me on disability, or (even worse) in the hospital. Remembering how fragile and fleeting my success could be helped to keep me grounded and stayed off grandiose thinking.

So, if you are enjoying great success - embrace it! Definitely allow yourself the happiness. But, remember to check in with your wisdom and strive for a peaceful and calm sense of satisfaction. Be wary of thoughts and mood spiraling upward. If you're enjoying success, you'll likely want to keep going and overcome even more challenges. But remember to find a balance - you may be valuable but you are not invincible. And you will only be as successful as your ability to manage your illness.