Since the theme this past week at Magnolia Public School is “Happiness & Health,” I thought I would write a post about this concept, especially how it relates to my life.
Due to genetic and environmental factors in my life, anxiety has always been a part of me, whether I like it or not. It does not define me, but I cannot deny that it has not affected my life in a substantial way. Doctors have asked me “Why is your pulse so high?” Basic decision-making can be absolutely crippling. Apprehension and doubt flood my mind before social interactions. Panic attacks have left me paralyzed emotionally and physically. Sleepless nights became the norm. However, like most of my life circumstances, I refuse to let this overcome me.
Since being in India, I have been immersed in a culture that embraces spirituality and mindfulness. Yoga and meditation are a common practice. Last week, we visited the Art of Living Ashram. I got to observe locals meditate and even partake in it myself. It was a truly spiritual experience that filled my heart with peace. Last fall was an especially difficult time for me with my mental health plummeting to an all-time low. In my recovery, I found that meditation and yoga helped me find a balance in my life that I didn’t think was ever truly there.
For anyone who has experienced mental health issues or who has gone through a particularly rough patch in their life, I am sure you can understand just how trapped you can feel. Trapped inside the four walls of your own mind. I experienced ruminating thoughts for weeks and even months at a time. My mind was saturated with negative self-talk, fear, and regret. I began looking at life through the rear-view mirror unwilling to look straight ahead at the huge possibilities that lie right in front of me. You keep telling yourself that things will not and cannot get better until you actually start believing it to be true.
“I began looking at life through the rear-view mirror unwilling to look straight ahead at the huge possibilities that lie right in front of me.”
But that is not reality. I was told time and time again that things will get better. My twin sister and I got tattoos with hers saying “I’m the hero of this story” and with mine saying “Don’t need to be saved.” This tattoo is a reminder that although support from family and friends is important, it is up to you to choose to save yourself.
Now reflecting on this time of my life, I have realized the enormous impact that your mindset has on your happiness and health. When my mental health was suffering, I felt my body and happiness withering away with it. Being an introspective person, there is a whole lot more going on in my head then my lips may reveal. Last fall, I overworked my brain by over-involving myself in extracurriculars and academics and by leaving little to no time for self-care. I was mentally burned out and I gave my mind no outlet to recuperate. I learned that the saying, “You cannot pour from an empty cup” is so painfully true. I gave my time and energy to academics and my involvements until there was nothing left.
“I learned that the saying, ‘You cannot pour from an empty cup’ is so painfully true.”
So I decided to make some life-style changes. I dropped some of my involvements and even received my first “C” in college (to which I felt a huge sense of relief). My mental health is my first priority above all else. I am a human first before a student or teacher. I used to stress about the little things, but I now have the ability to let things go. I spend much more time doing things that make my soul happy and at peace. I spend time with loved ones and friends much more than before. I learned that I can spend time doing absolutely nothing instead of filling up all of my time to stay busy.
Meditation and mindfulness have been a huge part of my road to a balanced life. Last fall, I found myself oblivious to the red flags and warning signs of my inevitable mental health downfall. However, now I have become much more self-aware of my feelings and emotions. I notice certain situations or experiences that may trigger my anxiety. Then, I reflect on how to prevent these feelings. I also have learned how to cope when these feelings start to overcome my mind. I can find myself feeling overwhelmed at times with the chaos of life. Meditation helps me to block out all of the outside noise, give my brain a rest, and puts my body at peace. I normally put on serene music (or none at all), sit cross-legged, and close my eyes putting all of my focus on my breathing. I notice the cool air coming though my nose and the warmth of my exhale. When my mind naturally starts to wonder, I put my focus back on my breathing.
“Meditation helps me to block out all of the outside noise, give my brain a rest, and puts my body at peace.”
Since making these changes in my life, I feel a more constant state of calm and my heart is filled with happiness. It is crazy to see just how wonderful life can be and all of the possibilities that are there, when just a few months ago, I honestly did not think things could get better. I am so relieved that I was wrong. Although that experience was the worst time of my life, I am much better because of it. I cherish the little things and I am filled with optimism for the future. I have a more positive mindset and outlook on life than I ever had before.
So here’s to a wonderful rest of my time in India and to a wonderful new year filled with infinite possibilities!
Stay awesome and thanks for reading,