In case you need me to say it again, I am not in any way suggesting you can meditate, relax or breathe your way out of chronic illness symptoms. The tools on this website are a way to get through the moment, a distraction when intense emotions are threatening to overwhelm us, as well as providing a way to find a little bit of solace.
The Ensō Meditation below is adapted from a Zen Buddhism practice. It offers a slightly more abstract way of tapping into self care and can be a simple or as deep as you need it to be.
Studies show having high self-esteem does not help counteract self-criticism as well as the ability to be self-reassuring. Therefore at times when our inner bully is particularly loud we can protect ourselves a little better from the negative impacts of self-criticism by focussing on compassion rather than building up our self-esteem. This is especially important for chronic illness sufferers as we don’t have the usual avenues to prop up our self-esteem.
If only it was as easy to apply self compassion as it was to show compassion to the people around us.
Because we live in a society that rewards and reveres productivity and a “push through” mindset, we have to protect our health and well-being by applying a level of self-compassion that is kind and gentle yet courageous and fierce. To ease you into the duality of self-compassion I’ve added a new resource that uses a yin and yang approach.
To anyone who may be new to ME/CFS, Long Covid or chronic illness…
I’m sorry if I wasn’t clear how bad it had to get before I admitted I had to try to put my health first and how hard it was/is to actually change my behaviour.
It is true that I shouldn’t need a label of “art” to elevate an activity to something meaningful or of value. But the mental gymnastics required to reject society’s expectations of acceptable use of your time is too exhausting. Educating others on why it’s not possible to be living a life out and about in the world is exhausting. Constantly monitoring and pushing back on your internal critique is exhausting.
Inspirational, quotes, mantras, motivational mottos and affirmations have their place in providing us with a way to refocus to the present or the positive, give hope, perspective courage or peace. If utilised at the right time they can be transformative. But on the bad days, words of wisdom need a little more lived experience of chronic conditions, a little more ME/CFS context to the grand aspirational proclamations.
It all relates back to the complexity of acceptance for those with ME/CFS. People treat it like a concept or goal to be achieved yet it’s an emotion that therefore cannot be a permanent state. We all contain multitudes.
There is a constant knot in the pit of my stomach. Hidden in the dark murky place where emotions mix and churn as they evade logic and reason. Holding onto one end of the knot is the person I am now, tugging at the other end is the person I want to be. Accepting I have to let go of the person I want to be is in theory the pathway towards the chronic illness jackpot of psychological flexibility.