May is Mental Health Awareness Month.  If you are like me, and have been diagnosed with a mental “illness”, this month is for you.  For people to understand your battle, for you to share your story, and to help one another find ways to manage day to day. I’m fortunate enough to work for a company who acknowledges Mental Health and Mental Health Awareness Month.  There are posters pinned up around the office, a month of planned activities, and an openness where we can be ourselves and speak openly about how we really feel, and what we’re doing to take care of our own mental health. On Wednesday we had the Co-Founder and CEO of Inkblot Therapy into our office as a guest speaker – to share his professional advice on achieving and maintaining mental health – my biggest take away from his talk was a meditation exercise.  Dr. Zohoor made a valid point that light and fluffy meditating doesn’t really make much sense when life itself isn’t light and fluffy.  Life is hard and it can be full of pain – if we ignore the hardship and pain – it’s not only unhealthy – but we will likely carry it around with us instead of learning to heal. Whether you meditate regularly or are open to trying it for your first time this exercise can work for everyone.
Find a quiet and comfortable area to sit on a sofa, chair or floor.  I like sitting on my moroccan floor cushion and resting my back against the wall. Sit quietly with your hands in your lamp, taking some deep breaths, and close your eyes.  Think of one feeling you have had lately that has effected your day or mood. Maybe you are sad because you are going through a break up, you’re anxious because of the size of your work load, or you’re angry because you have suffered an injustice.   Sit and focus on one of those feelings and allow the emotion to enter your body fully.  Take a few more deep breaths in and out.After a few moments, of feeling and breathing begin to say these words (or something similar) in your head;”I feel (sad, anxious, angry), and this feeling is real, but I choose to continuing living my life anyways.” By acknowledging the feeling, sitting in the heaviness and then choosing to move forward with life the emotion cannot control you – you control you. I tried this exercise in the shower and I felt like it really helped resolve some of the negative feelings floating around inside of me.  When I replaced my bad thoughts with a mantra of moving forward, I felt a shift inside me that positive action is possible.

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