Mindfulness: Making Time for Emotional and Spiritual Fulfillment

Reality Bites was on TV the other night.  I haven’t seen it since 1994.  At one point, Wynona Ryder’s character, Leilana, hit rock bottom.  Her career seemed to be going nowhere and Troy (Ethan Hawke) bailed the morning after they slept together.  She spent days lying on the couch, and racked up  a $600 bill calling a 1-900 psychic hotline.

Carving Out Time for Mindfulness & Meditation
Carving Out Time for Mindfulness & Meditation

I had a moment when I hit rock bottom last year.  One Saturday, my mom saw me hunched over my computer and asked, “What are you doing?”  I told her I was on this soap message board debating discussing General Hospital (GH).  This other member was  insisting that Patrick should choose Sabrina over Robin Scorpio, who is obviously the heart and soul of GH!  I’ve watched Kimberly McCullough since she came on GH in 1985.   My mom gave me this pitiful look like, Really Jessica?  You’re arguing with a stranger about a soap? 

TV and Hitting Rock Bottom

Being chronically ill, I have spent a lot of time in bed watching TV.  Sometimes, it was a good thing.  At the same time, sometimes it became mindless.  Honestly, there have been times I binge-watched TV shows I hated just because they were on.  When bad things happened to my favorite characters, I got depressed because these were the only people I saw on a regular basis, especially during flu season.  Spending so much time at home avoiding germs, coughing customers at restaurants and stores, and being tired and in pain, I had little face to face interaction.  I became too attached to characters.  The media we expose ourselves to–be it the news or dramas or reality TV–can affect our moods.

Carving Out Time To Meditate

When I was initially diagnosed with Myasthenia and after I got home from the hospital, I spent a lot of time reading the Bible and studying philosophy…when I wasn’t sleeping, drinking Ensure, and watching the same story five times in one day on CNN.  But when you’re sick for many years and running a race with no finish line (which is what chronic illness is), it’s hard to be a philosopher.  It can be hard to read even though I want to.  My eyes and body are aching.  And I fight chronic fatigue as a consequence of having Myasthenia Gravis and polycystic ovarian syndrome.   Sometimes, when I’m depressed, I can’t read.  (I have bipolar 2.)   But recently, I realized that I have to carve out time for emotional or spiritual fulfillment, even if it’s only 15 minutes.

Meditation Comes In Different Forms

My cousins gave me Arianna Huffington’s book, Thrive, for Christmas.  She talks about mindfulness, which helps us live in the moment and drown out white noise.  I never thought meditation was for me.  The closest thing I had was Pilates, which I can’t do everyday.  But Huffington said there are different kinds of meditation for people of different backgrounds and creeds.  As a Christian, I related to the method used by Quakers and I modified it.  For fifteen minutes a day, I have been  meditating.  I focus on a concept with my eyes closed.  (I set my alarm so I don’t fall asleep, which has happened twice.)  I focus on something like thankfulness or God’s ability to provide for my needs.  I remember times in my life when God strengthened me or funny, happy memories.  My therapist said that focusing on happy memories is an effective coping tool.  When my thoughts wander to my to-do list and current stressors, I bring my mind back to the concept.  These are two verses that have helped me:

2 Corinthians 5:7, ‘We walk by faith and not by sight.’

Hebrews 11:1, ‘Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.’

Your Turn

Has meditation ever helped you?

–Your Stylist, Jessica Gimeno 

JessicaGimeno

Hi, I have five illnesses--bipolar disorder, myasthenia gravis (neuromuscular autoimmune disease), polycystic ovarian syndrome, asthma, and psoriasis. Most of the organs in my body are affected. I'm dedicated to being a stylist for sick women. As someone who has experienced changes in my appearance due to my 12 meds (including Prednisone), I know how hard it can be when your face and body change overnight. (In fact, because of treatment, between 2008 to 2010, I went from a size 0 to a size 10. While I lost the weight, there are permanent changes in my face and body, which I've grown to appreciate.) My blog will also help women deal with other issues like surviving chronic pain and fatigue. Healthy people can also use this blog as a window into what life with illness is like. Let this website be a place where we can draw strength from each other despite our illnesses and find solutions to our everyday challenges!

4 thoughts on “Mindfulness: Making Time for Emotional and Spiritual Fulfillment

  • February 7, 2015 at 11:08 pm
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    I meditated 30mins every day then I developed Guilian Barre It truly saved me!! the ability to calm myself control, my breathing and use visualisation to remove myself from pain during 3 weeks ICU then 3 months rehab I know helped me more than even I will ever know. I did have trade the tapes I had previously used when I came home as they bought up some PTS issues.

    Reply
    • February 7, 2015 at 11:21 pm
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      Awesome! Thank you for sharing–meditation, breathing, and visualization. Guilian Barre–wow–so hard. I feel like I learn so much from my readers. Have you liked Fashionably ill on Facebook–readers share the tools we use to cope and we support each other: https://www.facebook.com/fashionablyill

      Reply
  • February 8, 2015 at 7:25 am
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    I love your blog and attitude! I’m not a fashionista, but I do love my comfortable clothing.
    I used to hike. That was my path to peace, no pun intended. I also practiced yoga and pilates. When hiking went away, I just got so depressed and then we moved across the country, far away from the Colorado Rockies, and I spiraled.
    Thanks to my therapist, I’ve realized how sneaky depression is. I also have GAD. I use breathing and visualization when I feel overwhelmed. I stretch everyday, and afterwards I lie on the mat and breathe. I’m on a new path. I have a new membership to a pool in the area that offers an Arthritis Foundation approved class. So, now instead of being a Mountain Mama, I’m going to be a Mermaid. lol

    Reply
  • February 16, 2015 at 8:24 pm
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    You are so awesome and inspiring! I do want to share my mindfulness practice, which I was very faithfully doing for 30 min daily for about 3 years after being diagnosed with bipolar. This followed 30 years with lupus, Raynaud’s, migraines, fibromyalgia and more. I now find myself also practicing it during stressful events that I have no control over. I play classical piano in my mind or picture myself on a warm cloud. Recently I was in the ER with a subcutaneous infection in my arm that was so hot you could cook an egg on, curled up on the bed with 2 cotton blankets, using my mindfulness to focus on keeping my fingertips and toes warm – rather than stressing on waiting for the doctors to be convinced I needed IV antibiotics. (I was recently diagnosed with cutaneous vasculitis, which has caused tissue damage in my fingertips and toes in the cold Chicago winter, due to severe vaso-constriction, and nerve/tissue death.) Stress will also aggravate these symptoms.
    I did get the IV antibiotics and was admitted to a room and finally got to sleep. This whole process took 8 hours. A nurse commented on my patience, and I just smiled. I am happy for each day I am alive on this earth!

    Reply

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