One Minute Meditation

It’s very quickly going to become obvious to you that I’m using the word ‘one’ and ‘meditation’ very loosly. Probably best you don’t proceed if you prefer your serenity tips delivered to you more ernestly. What this approach lacks in solemnity it makes up for ME/CFS idiosyncrasy.

 

 

Its cold…That’s it…That’s the point.

Before you ask… No, it won’t be the most meaningful, life changing thing you’ve ever done. Yes, this is going to sound extremely lame but I’m asking you to try it anyway.

Step one: If you’re able to, grab something cold out of the freezer, preferably an ice cube. Grab a bowl to put underneath as well if you need to go back to bed. If you’re not feeling well enough and can’t ask someone else to get it have a go at visualising the steps. 

Step two: Place the ice cube in your hand.

Step three: Concentrate on what that feels like, the cold, the damp, the dripping through your fingers. Zone in on the way the cold spreads and intensifies and try to block everything else out for as long as you can. Even once you drop the ice cube, focus on what that piece of skin feels like compared to the rest of your hand. 

Optional step four: Respond in comments section. Even if you just want to complain how stupid it was. Because that was it, that was the whole thing and even if all I did was annoy you then it distracted you for a moment. You managed to get your brain to focus on something else. 

Using your senses is the most effective way to short circuit anxiety and stress. If you’re interested in the science behind it, or need some extra convincing as to why its worth it check to the science.

 

 

If someone could walk a mile in my shoes…Or possibly, more accurately, restlessly lie down in my pyjamas.

A friend calls you. After you say, “hello.” The friend replies, “you don’t have to tell me. I can hear it in your voice.”

Spend a minute thinking about what you would hope friends and family could intuitively understand about what you’re going through. Doesn’t have to relate to what’s going on now maybe it’s a just about what you wish people could understand in general. I wouldn’t suggest dwelling on it, just the first thing that comes to mind.

Spend another minute, if you’re up to it, writing it down. Share it with us or a loved one if you’re comfortable. We can’t control whether someone will understand what we are going through or react in the way we desire to our revelations but we can externalise it by writing it down which helps to take some of the rawness out of the yearning to be seen and understood.

Open your eyes and ears.

This one can be done on the bad days i.e. bed bound days and on the very bad days i.e. can’t lift your head from the pillow.

Step one: Name five things you can see.

Step two: Name five things you can hear.

Because I currently live in an apartment building naming five things I can hear is easy. But if that’s not the case for you or a headache means you’re really trying to block out any noise of need to be in the dark. Try to think of five things you’d like to see and hear if your head wasn’t pounding.

Step three: Resist the urge to scoff at the simplicity. It may not be a mind-blowing moment of Zen but it’s the simplicity that tricks the brain into stepping out of an angsty escalation loop. The more often you do that, the more you get used to being able to get a humdrum moment of relief when you need it the most. 

Step four: For those of you that scoffed anyway, name three more things you can see and hear

E Words – You’re not the only one who finds emotions hard. There’s a reason therapists get paid a lot of money. 

No, this won’t give you the glow of someone who has managed to slay all their inner demons. However, putting my flippancy aside for a moment, this one minute meditation can be very powerful. So be kind to yourself, if you’re not ready to peel back an emotion layer, that’s fine. 

You can do this literally with a pen and paper or as a visualisation.

Pen and paper version:

Step one: Write an emotion you are feeling right now on a piece of paper. Just one E word. Try not to over think it, just the first thing that comes to mind.

Step two: Sit with it for a minute, don’t judge yourself for it. Accept and validate the emotion like you would if a friend was opening up to you.

Step three: Rip the paper to pieces, as small as you can and then get it as far away from yourself as you can. 

Step four: Congratulate yourself, in a non sarcastic, actually sincere way. Naming and externalising emotions isn’t easy.

Do as a visualisation.

Step one: Imagine yourself writing an E word on a leaf. Just one emotion you’re feeling right now.

Step two: Sit with it for a minute, don’t judge yourself for it. Accept and validate the emotion like you would if a friend was opening up to you.

Step three: Place the leaf in a fast running stream. Watch it race away from you till its out of sight. If you have a flamboyant imagination try to fill in all the detail, the sun on your face, the feel of the grass or soil underfoot, the coolness of the water as you place the leaf in the stream, the sound of the water crashing over the rocks etc etc. 

Step four: Congratulate yourself, in a non sarcastic, actually sincere way. Naming and externalising emotions isn’t easy. 

Check out the science if you need more info before giving it a try.

Flying Geese

You had to suspect at some stage I would bring out the cat’s pyjamas of mindfulness tactics – breathing. You’ve been waiting to roll your eyes at the suggestion to just brrrreeeeathe. Well keep your eyes forward, cause my way is way better than just breathe, it also includes flying geese. 

I have to admit, I don’t think I’ve actually seen geese fly, my encounters with them just involve a lot of menacing waddling behind me. But I’m going with the concept because I swiped the manoeuvre from Tai Chi. The real version is also referred to as flying goose or flying eagle.

Here’s the link if you would rather be introduced to it from an expert instead of my bootlegged, ME/CFS version. As with all my one minute meditations, if you’re not well enough to stand than you can try it sitting in bed or visualise the steps.

Step one: As you slowly raise your arms above your head take a deep breath.

Step two: Let your breath out as you slowly lower your outstretched arms to you side.

Step three: Repeat as many times as you would like.

Optional variation: Do it with a bit of whimsical flare, rather than using straight arms, pretend you have that graceful ballerina thing going on and you are ever so slowly unfurling and fluttering your wings with each inhale and exhale. Weightless and free for just a moment.

No, flapping about won’t bring on a rush of endorphins that carries you away to your happy place but there is plenty of supportive evidence for the benefits of both Tai Chi and mindful breathing exercises. Remember these suggestions are about reclaiming the moment, taking time away from ME/CFS and or things like pandemics, even if only for a moment.  

To build on those moments, I’ll be introducing variations on moving meditations because if you’re like me, you’ve been trying to find a form of movement that is least likely to set off  ME/CFS symptoms but allows your body to lightly stretch on the days where that is possible. 

In case you hadn’t noticed my version of meditation is not, sit quietly and release all thoughts. I’ve tried and tried some more but it’s not the right fit for me. Congrats and respect to those that can but for the rest of us there are plenty of ways to trick your brain into being quiet. 

 

There’s eating your spiralling feelings and then there’s eating to jolt yourself out of the spiral.

Yes, it is a thing, you can use taste as your sensory input to distract from a panic attack or escalating catastrophic thinking. To bring you back to the present and out of the terrifying land of ‘what ifs’ or ‘what’s next’.

This is vastly different to the piece of cake and or pizza that your stress hormones tell you will make you feel better. This is not rewarding yourself with food or using food to distract you from your feelings. Honesty, there is absolutely no judgement from me if you are eating a piece of cake or pizza right now, I’m just saying this is a little different.

This is for the peak anxiety moments that feel over powering and out of our control. When you may feel like your thoughts and feelings are spiralling to either a terrifying crescendo or tumbling down to very dark depths. 

Step one: Find something in your cupboard or fridge that is safe to ingest but has a strong flavour. Some people find it works better if it’s actually a flavour you don’t really like. E.g. that ridiculously over used herb, coriander (cilantro). Something like a slice of lemon, a pinch of salt, piece of ginger or an anchovy. Try not to use something you would usually use as a reward or anti stress food or something with a bad association e.g. that thing you ate while drinking Rum for the first time. No need to remind yourself of something else bad. 

Step two: You just need the taste, so just try a little bit. Literally, just a pinch or tiny bite.

Step three: Just sit with that and only that, force your brain into analysis mode of just that sensation. Don’t wash it down yet, don’t drink water, just let that taste flood your senses, blocking out everything else. 

Step four: Ok, now you can have a drink of water especially if you actually did choose coriander or an anchovy. 

It won’t make you feel so present and mindful that you see the world through a beautiful prism of light. Unless you chose to ingest magic mushrooms. It’s just a jolt into the here and now. Taking control for just a moment is an achievement and its about stringing those moments together especially when needed so that you are rewiring your brain away from anxiety loops. I get it if you’re not convinced but it’s actually used as a grounding technique for PTSD to fool the brain into focussing on something else. 

Just a reminder if you’ve read this far down the list of One Minute Meditations and you are still waiting for magic wand type interventions –  I didn’t make the brain and I don’t make the rules. Its self-soothing one minute at a time. Trust me, the small victories do add up. Its tangible, its doable and it has the added bonus of being a trauma intervention tool that doesn’t involve sitting on a therapists couch talking about your childhood.

Acceptance doesn’t have to be your white whale  

Coping with chronic illness literature talks a lot about accepting your illness as a way of not fighting against yourself as well as the disease or condition. If you are a peaceful warrior who has found the pathway to acceptance, I salute you, or if you are striving for complete acceptance because you feel that will work for you, 100% go for it. 

For those that find the concept of acceptance competes with the desire to not accept that your life has to be this way or dilutes your fight for a better quality of life, awareness, testing criteria, rigorous research and treatment options. The goal is to find a way to separate the external fight for recognition, research and understanding from the internal need for self- kindness and self care.

What chronic illness literature also leaves out is that acknowledging that something truly sucks doesn’t negate your ability to accept that it is part of your life. E.g. having to factor in post-crash time sucks but it’s how I have to plan my life. You are allowed to be angry about it but it’s about finding a way to not be angry at yourself. Yep, I hear how patronizing that sentence sounds when I just read it out load, nothing is easy or simple, especially when it comes to anger and acceptance. I personally stumble on and off the pathway to peace so happy to receive any suggestions. Let me know what works for you.

Contact me 

If you need an alternative to acceptance take a minute and see if any of the following might work for you:-

Conditional Acceptance

I accept the uncertainty and lack of control involved in having ME/CFS.

I accept this is something I have to manage.

I accept that even if I do everything I can to manage my condition I will probably still have flare ups and crashes and I accept that is not my fault.

I accept that pacing is part of management but pacing is not always possible.

Permission rather than acceptance

I give myself permission to rest.

I give myself permission to be kind to myself.

I give myself permission to say no to things that will affect my health.

I will statements 

I will try to find the right resonance, melody, or modulation that works for me.

I will release myself from guilt.

I will find a way to learn more about what helps me without blaming myself for things outside my control.

I will not judge myself for not always being the “perfect” manager of my condition.

Fill in the blanks

I will accept….

I will not accept…

Other words that might work for you rather than acceptance

Be warned some people will find some of these even more triggering than the idea of acceptance – The complexity and individuation of the experience of ME/CFS means the ways in which we cope cannot be generalised. Hence the proliferation of words to describe one concept.    

Accession

Accord

Acknowledgement

Acquiescence

Agreement

Approbation

Armistice

Assent

Equanimity

Grace

Harmony

Peace

Permission

Serenity

Treaty

More One Minute Meditations to Come

 

You know that saying ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day’ that every body uses because they can’t think of a better way to put it, well…There’s more to come because I need to model self care and can’t possibly build anything in a day.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: