I wrote recently that my depression seems to be past. That has led to some new motivation and some ideas of things to try to do in the coming year.
Mindfulness. I've read and heard about the benefits of mindfulness for a long time now. A practice of mindfulness is said to lower stress and anxiety. Clinical trials show that it halves the risk of recurring depressions. Over time it also improves memory and creativity. It boosts the immune system helping to reduce the incidence of colds and flu, among other diseases. So, it seems like a win win, right? Chuck and I bought the book, Mindfulness: An Eight-Week Plan for Finding Peace in a Frantic World by Mark Williams and Danny Penman, and we are working our way through it.
Of course I do not expect mindfulness to be the only means I use to find peace. Mindfulness is often seen as a Buddhist practice. So there is the question of whether I am mixing my faith with other faiths. What I'm finding is that mindfulness supports my faith rather than undermines it. Meditation is the means to mindfulness and meditation is something to which the Psalmists commit themselves.
Psalm 37:7 Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; do not fret when people succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes. 8 Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret---it leads only to evil.
Psalm 46 (the Psalm many turn to in the face of great disasters or evil) verse10. Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.
Taking time away to pray is something Jesus did and taking time away to meditate is part of mindfulness. Jesus was amazingly good at being present in the moment and it is something I want to emulate. Mindfulness makes that happen more often. It makes me aware of when my feelings are reactions to old memories or hurts and allows more presence to the things that are in the here and now. And finally, the verses in Matthew 6 in the Sermon on the Mount are such an apt description of the goal of mindfulness.
Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?...But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.
Writing. I haven't been writing much and I want to begin writing again. I've started writing 10 minute free writes most days, just to get myself back in the habit. When I stop writing it is hard to begin again. I start to believe there is nothing to say, nothing worth saying, nothing I have a right to say. For ten minutes a day I have to write, even if it is nothing. I must keep my pen moving. I must practice being specific about whatever I am writing.
I'm also hoping this increases my blogging to nearly once a week. We'll see.
Dog Training. This seems a little silly, but dogs don't train themselves. We are happier and Harvey is happier if we have clear expectations for his behavior. He doesn't understand those expectations unless we practice them. We currently are not in a class so it is easy to relax, but if I want to take him places there are still many things we can work on. I've made a schedule of things to work on daily. We need to get better at long stays, at being able to lie down even when the command is given from across the room, at being able to stay even when I leave the room that Harvey is in, and many other things. We need to learn some fun tricks that kids can do with Harvey. So a few minutes a day we need to practice.
Read the Bible through. Our church is participating in the Year of the Bible. In March a group will be committing to reading the Bible through in 90 days and I'd like to read along at the same pace. I won't be able to attend their class because I teach, but I've heard from enough people that this was a good thing for them. I want to try it.
Organize. I don't really like this word but it will do until I have a better one. Maybe freedom would be good. Maybe simplicity. At any rate, I want to be going through the areas of my house and evaluate the things that we have. Do we still need them? Do we still want them? If not, it is time to clean them out. I began with our home school materials because it was an easy place to start. I now have two empty bookshelves to get rid of, and Book Reviews has a lot of books to price and shelve. I also went through my closet and dresser once, and et cetera shop got a large box. But it will have to happen again. There is still too much stuff in there.
Eat Differently. I'm trying a new way of eating. My body does not shed calories as it used to and there has been some talk of a 5:2 diet. This is a diet where I eat much less (500 calories or less) on two days each week and eat normally the rest of the week. There are health benefits to fasting, so even if I don't shed any weight I'm hoping that I'll be healthier. I've been at this one for about 3 weeks and have maybe lost one or two pounds, but I do feel better. It is good combining this with mindfulness, because I am becoming more conscious of whether I am hungry, or just eating because it is mealtime. Also mindfulness helps me to be more aware of when I am feeling hungry and being able to sit with that feeling without having to do something about it right away. I'm not interested in losing a lot of weight and I could be content where I'm at if I need to be, but I think just a few pounds less would keep me in the clothes I love.