Written by Morgan Bickenbach-Davies
It feels February came and went within the blink of an eye. This should probably not come as a shock since it is the shortest month of the year, but, nonetheless it sure did feel like a bit of a blur.
At the beginning of the month, I came to the conclusion that, as a full blown empath, a university gym was way too much of a toxic space for me to be. I found myself taking on all the anxiety of those around me. I would routinely leave the gym more strung out and haggard than when I went in. It was some bad juju. So, I decided to swap the gym for the yoga studio and it has made a world of difference in my life. Not only do I get to move my body, regain some core body strength and flexibility, but I also get in some mindfulness practice, a sense of community and a daily opportunity to calm my mind and simply be in the moment. Going forward, instead of going to the gym, I will be maintaining my January commitment to move my body in a public setting by attending yoga classes.
As for February’s goal of meditating every day, I can proudly say that managed to do at least one guided meditation everyday this past month! Some days I felt I needed more meditation time (about 30-45 minutes) and other days I only did a five-minute meditation with the Headspace App. I found the healing techniques on the Divine Throughline podcast with SriMati (a.k.a. Julie Piatt) very helpful as well as some of the guided meditations on the 10% Happier Podcast with Dan Harris. In addition, I also found Guru Singh’s podcast quite helpful even though the episodes are more lecture and less guided meditation. Following on from January, I discovered that the yoga studio I attend and volunteer at offers some guided meditations throughout the week. This has really been helpful and is a great addition to myself care routine. I highly recommend group meditation to anyone thinking about starting a practice.
For the month of March, I have decided to start a journal. My goal is to write 3 pages a day, every day this month. It doesn’t matter what I write, just as long as I write. Stream of consciousness, grammatical errors, bad handwriting are all welcome. I chose this as my fear of the month for a few reasons. First of all, I hate my hand writing. I think it’s ugly, inconsistent and too slowly written. Much like reading, I have a lot of hang ups about how and what I write. I never feel like I am writing fast enough, cleverly enough, neatly enough, etc. I know I need to get over this aversion to my own handwriting as it is clearly just another manifestation of self hatred and is only holding me back personally and professionally. The only way I can think of addressing this issue is through repeated exposure.
I think this hang up can be traced all the way back to when I was eight years old. My family and I moved to France for a year and the schooling there was much more rigorous and unforgiving on the pupils. I remember that, by eight years old, the students were expected to have immaculate cursive penmanship. Needless to say, I did not. I can still remember my teacher describing my first attempts at cursive writing as “pig shit” (loose translation). I spent hours practicing my handwriting that year and, over the years, I guess I internalised those criticisms and began to equate good handwriting with one’s intellect, tidiness and morality.
One of the other reasons I chose journaling for the month of March was that I want to become a better writer. My hope is that, by establishing a daily writing practice, I will begin to organise my ideas, have a creative outlet and start processing some of the emotions I’ve been sweeping under the proverbial rug for the past 29 years. I know I have a lot of shit going on in my head and my hope is that, by putting pen to paper, some of the emotional load will be lifted from my aching shoulders. My mum always describes this process as being like recovering from frostbite. During the healing process, the most excruciating part is when the blood starts returning to the damaged tissues. Paradoxically, this most painful part of the process is that part that is essential for the healing to take place. For me, starting to face my own emotions through writing is like the blood coming back into the tissue. It’s incredibly painful, but also incredibly necessary in order to heal.
As for Chris, barring a few slip ups due to illness or lack of preparation, he has stuck to his goal of replacing protein bars with more whole foods. For the month of March, he will be practicing mindful eating. At least once a day, he will slow down and take the time to eat more mindfully. Typically, Chris feels that he eats too quickly, “scarfing down” (his words not mine) his food without paying much attention to what he’s eating. His reason for eating so quickly: fear of the food. The feeling of fullness is paired with feelings of shame and guilt and, the faster he eats, the faster he can forget about the “shameful act” he has just engaged in.
Along with this new goal, Chris will keep up his January and February fear goals (meditating every day and more whole foods in the diet/not relying on protein bars).
See you all at the end of March!