Peace: 8 month update

My word of the year is peace. Although actually it’s developed into more of a nebulous concept over the year.

My pinterest board keeps me aware of it. I also have peac written in magnetic scrabble on my fridge (the second e has disappeared…!).

In terms of progress, things have become a lot more about boundaries, tarot and spirituality of late.

Boundaries

A big part of this is setting boundaries around my flat. My neighbours continue to be awful people who make a lot of noise. I’m talking two barking dogs, vacuuming 21 times in one week, 2/3 of which was between 7.30pm and midnight. This week they’ve started shouting at each other at 5am. 5AM… And I’ve checked out my options and there’s nothing I can do because I strongly believe if they know I’ve complained about them, they’ll get worse and (at least) verbally abuse me. And there’s no way of complaining without them realising I made the complaint…

On top of the general crapness of that, I really struggle with noise. It really affects my stress and anxiety levels. Having the extractor fan on bothers me, let alone anything else…

But I can’t change things with my neighbours so I needed a new approach (although moaning a bit does help, sorry twitter folk). To do this, I walked through my flat mentally setting my boundaries and strongly imagining a buffer between my ceiling and their floorboards.  This, whilst it won’t change the noise, changes my relationship to it. I now feel more in control. When they make noise, I take it as a signal to take a deep breath and strengthen my imaginary boundaries. I know that all sounds very hippy, witchy, woo woo but it’s working for me. It’s about my intention to let the noise go, to let it brush off me and to be more in control of my reaction to it. Alongside this I keep my fingers tightly crossed they might move. And strategically place leaflets from estate agents so they’ll see them…

Boundaries are also about my emotional boundaries. Especially important around some people, including some of my care team. Again, I’m trying visualisation techniques to help with this as well as being conscious of setting boundaries. On occasions where I know my emotional boundaries are likely to receive hits, I’ve also set the intention to maintain my boundaries beforehand and used a crystal to remind me of this and to help ground me. There’s a guided visualisation by Marthe of the Freedom Experiment which I’ve used although there’s hundreds of others all over the internet.

I’ve been thinking about EDS* and boundaries; people with EDS often have poor proprioception** so don’t really know where their physical edges are. A lot of people with EDS also have anxiety and I wonder if there’s a link between proprioception and anxiety. As my anxiety rises, I find it harder to feel where I stop and the world begins. The converse is also true; if my proprioception is bad, my anxiety rises. So one thing I’m trying to do when anxiety hits, is re-find my physical boundaries. I’m very early on in exploring this. So far i have had a carer rub moisturiser into my arms which helps (and probably helps more of you can do it yourself),  covering myself in heavy blankets or my beanbag style heat packs and mindfulness body scans (which didn’t work for me but might for someone else).

*Ehlers Danlos Syndrome

**Proprioception refers to the body’s ability to sense movement within joints and joint position. This ability enables us to know where our limbs are in space without having to look.

Tarot and peace

How does tarot bring me peace? Or more accurately, help me find my peace. Well, it helps me see what I’m feeling, worried about etc. It acts as a mirror, showing me what’s going on in my subconscious. And once I know what I’m feeling, rather than hiding it away in a clenched jaw or general irritableness, then I can try and process it and if needs be do something about it.

wp-1453478856313.jpg

The actual process of getting out my cards, sitting down, shuffling and drawing the cards is also a way of pausing all the daily nitty gritty stuff. I take a deep breath as I’m shuffling and ask for guidance. I know a lot of people have bigger rituals around tarot but small works for me and marks a divide between normal time and tarot time.

Rituals and intentions

Which brings me to rituals.  Rituals are helping me feel more peaceful, they give me anchor points which is important when all your days look the same.

My Friday check ins are a form of ritual. But I’m also starting to follow the seasons, moon cycles etc. This gives me lots of chances to think about what I want to embrace, release, be thankful for etc.

Different points in the moon cycle or year also focus on different things which I may not have considered on my own, for example Lammas at the start of August focuses on harvesting, looking at what you’ve grown and being grateful. I didn’t do much for it, I lit a candle, did a tarot reading and had a think about what I’m “harvesting” (mentally, emotionally, physically eg new friendships, financial ventures, skills you’re learning etc) as well as what hasn’t grown, or is still growing.  Doing this helps me be more aware of where in the year we are, anchoring me to time and tuning me into my SAD tendencies.

Rituals can also be a way to consciously set intentions such as the intention to try and remain grounded in a tough situation, the intention to embrace your personal power etc. Stopping to consciously decide and tell yourself what you want is much more concrete than vaguely thinking something to yourself.

Intention setting may simply involve you saying out loud that you want to pursue career opportunities or it might be more involved and you might include planning as part of your intention setting. However you chose to do it, I find the act of acknowledging to yourself means that your mind is more attuned to relevant things or interprets your world through a lens related to that. Using the career example, once you acknowledge that’s your intention, you are likely to notice job adverts, networking opportunities etc more often.  If you tell other people about your intention they may bring opportunities your way. I guess in a lot of ways intention setting is about consciously focusing on what you want.

This is my little alter type corner. There’s crystals, candles, shells, stones, twigs, fir cones, feathers etc. I love crystals, they’re beautiful objects and the twigs etc are little bits of nature which is especially nice to see when I’m having a bad day and can’t leave the house. Framed above my desk is a feather a friend found and sent me. Next to the large glass bowl there’s a salt lamp, a little shrine type thing to my Granma and a painting I did earlier this year to process and mark my move from working to retirement.

Creating an encouraging environment

My inbox is filled with daily, weekly, monthly reminders about being true to myself, about self care, about finding your way. I don’t read them all but i read a lot more of them than I do emails trying to sell me possessions which promise true happiness… Some of the newsletters or blog post emails which I look forward to receiving are:

I’m sure there are more but these are a selection of emails which make me feel empowered, excited, understood etc.  Some days I am not in the right head space for them but other days they tell me exactly what I need to hear.

My Twitter world is a mix of the above mentioned newsletter senders, cheerleaders, shoulders to cry on, people to celebrate with as well as people talking about things which are important to me, and perhaps even more crucial, no people who just focus on stuff which makes me feel bad (gossip magazines, diet companies etc).

And there goes the vacuum upstairs; I’m taking a deep breath, re-visualising my ceiling boundaries and refocusing on what I’m doing.  I’m not zen, I’m not an embodiment of peace, but I’m an awful lot more peaceful than I was at the start of the year.

How are you getting on with any words of the year you set?

Advertisements

Peace: Quarter year review

 
image

You may remember back at the beginning of the year, I chose the word peace for my year, a la Susannah Conway.

So, three months on, how am I making space in my life for peace?  Well, firstly, I guess it’s expanded.  The underlying essence is still about making a life more peaceful but it’s uncurled to include exploring spirituality, getting in touch with myself, getting in touch with nature, the seasons, the moon, the stars etc and doing lots of creative stuff.  It also includes letting go of judging myself, building up self care routines and letting go of things I cannot control.  If I am waging war on myself, I can never been at peace.

I have a pinterest board which is helpful in reminding me that I am cultivating a more peaceful life as well as for pulling together ideas to explore.

I am doing regular tarot readings and I’ve completed the Alternative Tarot Course which was really interesting and helped to develop and hone my skills at reading the cards.  As I’ve mentioned before, this is a really good way for me to check in with myself and figure out what’s going on in my subconscious.  I’ve also got a pack of beautiful medicine cards, I’ve not used them much but the idea is the same.

I have got a few crystals which I’m using to set intentions and to help me remember those intentions.  For example, I had an important meeting this morning and I wanted to be calm, articulate and level headed.  Last night, I lit a candle, held the crystals and said that was my intention for the meeting.  I put the crystals in my pocket and they just acted as a reminder.  So when I started to ramble, they prompted me to stop, breathe and start again more clearly.

I’ve had weekly check in sessions with myself, mostly at a local cafe.  I have a stack of question cards to use as prompts to help me reflect on the week, how I’ve coped, what went well and the week ahead.  Ensuring I keep space in my week for this is really important in helping me to process emotions and keep my life ‘peaceful’ or more balanced.

As part of my checking in with myself, I have also done some work around fighting (systems mostly) and trying to find a way of moving out of the state where fighting is my default mode.  I’ve done some work to let my ‘inner warrior’ rest whilst knowing that when I need to fight, she’ll be there (and be well rested).  Staying on fight mode is not sustainable.  Its not a criticism of myself, I had hell of a lot of things to be fighting for; house, wheelchair, work, physical health care, mental health care, benefits… so many things you’d normally take for granted… But I have a house, I have a wheelchair, I’m going through the process to leave work so I’m in a much better position now.

Cultivating peace is also about the little things, noticing a bird singing outside the window or managing to find the time and energy to read and enjoy reading.

Challenges to my peace include the upstairs neighbours’ dogs. There are two and they bark whenever their owners are out.  When I catch myself tensing up and getting particularly irritable I notice it and physically uncurl and take a deep breath.  The dogs are still annoying but I’ve interrupted my unconscious reaction which helps stop it from building.  I think knowing my word is peace is helping me to notice when I am getting wound up by this kind of thing.

I know I have a long way to go with this but I do feel I’ve made progress since I set the intention to bring more peace into my life.

Did you set any intentions at the beginning of the year? How are you getting on?