Tag Archives: meditation

Share Your World – Week 5

04 Feb 16
Megan
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The questions this week have been very thought provoking and I’ve struggled with a few of them but here we go… Let’s Share Your World!

If you had a shelf for your three most special possessions (not including photos, electronic devices and things stored on them, people or animals), what would you put on it?

I don’t really focus much on ‘stuff’ and ‘possessions’ any more so I’ve struggled to think of 3 things that would go on the shelf.

I would definitely include my childhood teddy. He’s been through everything with me and he’s not going anywhere…

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The second thing I’d put on it is the old cigar box that currently holds my yearly letters to E. Starting from our wedding day I’ve written a letter to him each year as part of his anniversary gift.

The third thing I’d add would be my special jewellery… My engagement ring (was my great grandmothers) and wedding ring, my heart necklace (6-month dating anniversary gift from E) and my crystal necklace (also a family heirloom).

If you had a box labelled ‘happiness’, what would you put in it?

NOTHING, or a note that just says ‘Be Present’. I would use it as a reminder that happiness comes from within, not from external sources.

What do you want more of in your life?

I’m very happy (or as happy as I can be) with my life at the moment but I’d be happy if I was able to have more family time and less pain/health issues.

Daily Life List: What do you do on an average day? Make a list of your usual activities you do each day.

An average day… I was planning to do a day in my life style post like my friend Joy and Toni Bernhard anyway so I guess I’ll describe it here.

Wake Up time… Generally between 8 and 9 am (although the last few days I’ve woken earlier then fallen back to sleep). At this time I take a moment to scan my body and see what parts are hurting the most and the least (there’s never no pain so it’s more an assessment of how well the day is going to start).

While still lying in bed I do at least a 5 minute meditation before stretching and slowly sitting up. Most days I’ll take a shower (sitting on the floor to avoid falling over or making pains worse) and get dressed.

Breakfast is the next task to address. I make a cup of tea and see how much energy I have. Most days I just have a piece of fruit or something premade that’s easy to eat. When I have the energy I’ll make a cooked breakfast with veggies and eggs.

While the kettles boiling (and breakfast is cooking) I’ll do a short sun salutation. Just 5 minutes is enough to stretch out my muscles but it also wears me out again.

After eating breakfast it’s time for another rest so I’ll sit on the couch drinking my tea. I may browse Facebook on my phone.

After 10-15 minutes rest, I’ll read through some blogs for up to 30 minutes (usually closer to 15 minutes) then push the button that sends the robot vacuum on a round of the kitchen/family room and laundry.

I’ll clean the litter trays and then assess how I’m feeling.

If it’s a good day I’ll do an hour or two of work (writing blogs, working on consulting jobs) or spend some time cleaning up around the house with regular short rest breaks in between. If it’s a bad day I’ll put the tv on or listen to an audio book.

At around 11:30 I’ll start thinking about lunch. Generally this will either be left overs or a sweet potato which I throw in the oven with salt, pepper and oil and leave to bake for an hour.

After lunch I have a nap before either doing a bit more work/housework or putting the tv/audiobook back on.

Around 5 I start considering dinner. I slowly make dinner taking lots of rests and by the time E is home (generally between 6 and 7pm) dinner is ready to eat.

We eat and watch tv until around 9-9:30 when I take my medicines, floss and brush my teeth, shower and bed.

Bonus question:  What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up?

I’m grateful that I’m able to live a slow life. Over the weekend E and I were able to slow down and just relax. I spent a whole morning listening to audiobooks while E was on the computer and doing things around the house, we visited family and we went for a slow walk in the local national park.

This week I’m looking forward to continue living slowly. Taking the time to enjoy the simple things like the warmth of the sun and the sound of the rain. I’m also looking forward to afternoon tea with Rach as a special mid-challenge catch up as part of our 20 week no-buy challenge.


Share your World: Week 3

21 Jan 16
Megan
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Today I’m seeing my doctor to follow up on the side effects and blood test results. I’m feeling very frustrated with myself lately. Thanks to the side effects I’ve been struggling to do any work, even writing these Share Your World posts is taking me many times longer than normal.

Share Your World: Week 3

What is your favorite piece of art? (it doesn’t have to be famous)

I don’t really have an answer for this one as I tend to favour art work that has special meaning to me or that evoke emotion in me and there are several that fit that category. Looking around our house at the moment there are two that stand out to me…

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The first professional photo of me and E. This photo was taken almost 10 years ago. Every time I look at it, it makes me smile and feel good inside.

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This painting was a birthday present to me and E on our 30th birthday last year. It was painted by one of our friends and I love how simple it is. It hangs in our toilet and adds a point of interest to an otherwise boring room.

What made you smile today?

Watching the cats chase each other around the house. Cats can be very entertaining and also great therapy. When I’m feeling my worse and spend my time curled on the couch I love having them come and curl up with me.

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Which place do you recommend as a Must-See? Please state which country, state or providence.

Dangar Island, NSW, Australia.

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My Aunty lives on this wonderful island in the middle of the Hawkesbury River. It’s home to a few hundred locals while others have holiday homes on the island. Apart from the communal vehicles for maintenance and emergency services there are no cars on the island and you can only access it by ferry.

I love how peaceful it is on the island and the fact that there is such a communal feel.

Complete this sentence: When I was younger I used to….

hide in cupboards with my sister.

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Bonus question:  What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up?

I was grateful for the opportunity to float in the ocean and spend time with family and friends. I’m hoping to make more beach trips this summer, especially given the fact that I’m meant to be doing more water based exercises at the moment.

I’m also grateful for having rediscovered my meditation mantra from last year, it’s been very helpful to me while I’m dealing with the extra symptoms and side effects.

May I/you be peaceful and true

May I/you have an open heart and open mind

May I/you be free from all suffering

This week I’m looking forward to getting some answers from my GP and taking the time to focus on recovering from the last weekend.

Life with chronic illness: Dealing with Emotions

27 Oct 15
Megan
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Imagine waking up one day and finding that your whole life has changed. Just like that you couldn’t be who you thought you were.

One day you are happily working full time in a job that makes you feel like you’re making a difference. You’re keeping healthy by visiting the gym most days of the week, walking whenever and where ever you can, and working on your diet (eliminating foods that you react to). It’s important to you that you’re keeping your brain active so, on top of all those other things, you’re studying to improve your skills in a field you want to expand into.

The next day you’re curled up in a ball on the couch, struggling to stay awake and living with pain 24/7. You can no longer do any of the things you could do the day before. Dreams you thought were certain to come true in your future are now uncertain, possibly even gone.

Over time, and with the help of a large team of medical professionals and other support people, you’re able to slowly build up your ability to do some of the physical and mental activities you were able to do before but you’re still not 100%.

This whole process is bound to stir up emotions. Lots of them! Both in yourself and in those who love you and care for you. How do you deal with these emotions?

Life with chronic illness is an emotional rollercoaster and you tend to cycle through the various stages of grief and acceptance throughout your life including denial, anger, fear, and acceptance.

There are several different models outlining the stages of grief and how to deal with them. To find out more about the stages of grief and acceptance specifically related to living with chronic illness, check out this free e-book from Katherine T Owen from Healing CFS/ME and this post from Rev Liz.

Today I don’t want to focus on what the stages are but on how to deal with our emotions in general.

Lately, I’ve been struggling with feelings of anxiety, fear and depression as I try and reconcile my preconceived notions and dreams (those I had before I got sick) with my reality. I had at least a week of feeling overly emotional and struggling with bursting into tears for no apparent reason at times.

Now that I’m starting to feel better, I’d like to share some tips about how to cope with these emotions. These tips are suitable for dealing with any extreme emotions (not just negative ones). This is important because if you are living with ME/CFS or Fibromyalgia any stresses and extreme emotions can impact on your health.

  1. Control what you can, accept what you can’t. This is a statement that’s easy to say but hard to implement. It seems pretty clear that you can’t control everything in life. When you live with a chronic illness this is doubly true. You loose control of any predictability in your day to day life in terms of pain and fatigue levels and what you’ll reliably be able to do. You find yourself unable to commit to activities or events, and when you do you may find yourself cancelling them often. What you can control is how you deal with these issues. Accepting that your life needs to be flexible helps you to reduce your stress levels. Determining your baseline and attempting to develop a routine that keeps you close to that baseline most days enables you to slowly build up what you can do.
  2. Be Mindful. This links in closely with the tip above. By living a mindful life and trying to stay in the moment, you can focus on the things you can do and be grateful for what you have in life rather than focusing on those things you can’t control.
  3. Have someone to talk to. This would preferably be someone outside of your immediate family. Why? The people around you are going through their own struggles learning to accept and adjust to the major changes to their lives that your illness has been responsible for. Having someone outside that you can talk or vent to is important for maintaining mental health. It’s important not to bottle everything up inside until it explodes.
  4. Be as active as possible. I’m not saying go running, or even go for a walk around the block. What I am saying is do what you can to keep your body as healthy as possible. This may be as little as a few stretches in bed. I find when I’m able to be more active I’m able to clear my mind more and deal with the emotions that are there.
  5. Sit with your emotions. As I’ve already mentioned, it’s important not to bottle up your emotions. I’ve found if I allow myself to cry if I need to and just sit focusing on my breathing and not trying to suppress my feelings it can help me work through them. You could also try journalling to get everything out.

These tips are specifically focused on dealing with the emotions that arise because of chronic illness in your life. They are not the be all and end all, and I’m sure you can add some more of your own, but they are a starting point. We have previously done a post on being mentally strong which also holds some helpful tips.

Do you have any tips of your own that you’d like to share?

How do you cope when your emotions are running high?

Living with Chronic Pain

Living with Chronic Pain – Top 3 Tips

21 Jul 15
Megan
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As I mentioned last week, it’s National Pain Week in Australia this week. I will be sharing my story over at the National Pain Week website and at My Invisible Life later in the week. I’ll also be talking to local media, starting with ABC Riverland Today at 10:45 this morning.

Living with chronic pain can be frustrating, overwhelming and disempowering, however it is still possible to live a meaningful life while coping with it.

With over 2 years experience of living with chronic pain myself, and having spoken to many people who have lived with it a lot longer than I have, I’ve found many tips and tricks that have helped me live a reasonably quality and meaningful life despite constant pain and fatigue. Below I share my top 3 tips for living with chronic pain:

  1. Listen to your body and pace yourself
  2. Don’t stop researching and trying new things
  3. Eliminate the unnecessary so you can focus on what is meaningful to you

Listen to your body and pace yourself

One of the first things I learnt on my journey with chronic illness is that my limits had changed. Before chronic illness I was a high achiever who had to always be doing something active and challenging. Since becoming ill, I still need to be doing something but I’ve had to cut back on the level of activity.

On a day to day basis I need to consider how I am feeling and plan my day accordingly. If my body has higher pain or fatigue levels than normal, or my brain is complete fog, then I know I need to step back and rest most of the day. If my pain levels are lower than normal or I’m feeling energetic (doesn’t happen that often but it could!) I need to remember not to push too hard or I will crash later on.

 

In general it’s best to aim for consistency and to allow your body to rest when it needs to.

To give you an example, I’m just coming out of a 2-week crash so my step count and activity level has been cut way back to an amount that i can maintain even if I’m feeling really bad. I have to minimise work and social activities and focus on resting. On any given day I usually only have one or two key activities lined up, which could be as simple as make a meal. While I was in the crash I didn’t really do any activities and most days were spent on the couch.

Don’t stop researching and trying new things

For many of the causes of chronic pain there is no known reason or cure for the pain. As a result there is usually always someone claiming to have the solution. Although it’s important to consider each solution offered to you carefully it is good to keep an open mind and try many different things.

What works for one person may not work for another.

I’ve tried multiple prescription drugs, none of which helped. In fact, most of them caused side effects worse than the symptoms they were meant to be helping. For other people though these drugs have helped.

I’ve tried (or I’m trying) physiotherapy, various exercise programs with guidance from an exercise physiotherapist, acupuncture, breathing techniques, a tens machine, and hypnosis.

Using the TENS Machine for Pelvic Pain

Using the TENS Machine for Pelvic Pain

Eliminate the unnecessary so you can focus on what is meaningful to you

Because of my limitations I have gone through phases where I’ve felt that my life had no meaning. To help me get over that I’ve had to focus in on what is meaningful to me.

I’ve worked on identifying my values and changing my lifestyle so what little energy I have is used doing things that fit with these values.

Since living with chronic pain I have taken up blogging so I can still contribute to the wider community, I’m focused on shopping and living as sustainably as possible, I meditate daily and practice gratitude, and I make time each week to spend at least an hour with family and friends.

I have eliminated my gym membership (I can’t exercise to that extent at the moment any way), full time employment (again beyond my limitations), and cleaning the house (we get a cleaner in fortnightly to do the major cleaning, and I’m slowly decluttering so there’s less to pick up and care for around the house).

Bonus Tip: Have Fun

I personally believe the most important tip I’ve been given on my journey towards a simple, sustainable and meaningful lifestyle while living with chronic pain, is to focus on what makes you happy and to have fun.

Tasks such as cleaning can be outsourced and when you have limited energy to contribute to society you are more likely to be happy with your life if (as in the tip above) you focus on what is meaningful to you and make sure you do at least one thing to have fun each day.

Whether it’s taking the time to look out the window and connect with nature, reading a good book or spending time with family and friends, it’s important to make time for fun in your life.

What tips would you give someone who was living with chronic pain and struggling?

First step on the journey to a simple, sustainable, meaningful life

First step towards a simple, sustainable life

28 Aug 14
Megan
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What’s the first step to move towards a simple, sustainable, meaningful life?

Know where you are now and know where you want to be.

How do you do that?

By taking time out to reflect on your life and considering what is going well and what areas you’re struggling with. This allows you to actually consider whether what you are doing actually fits in with your passions, and can help to guide you in the areas where you will be able to improve.

When reflecting on your life you’ll most likely find that there are things you are doing that you’d really like to increase doing and other things that you don’t really know why you are doing it at all.

Reflecting on my life I’ve been able to see that for me, my family and friends, my health, and being able to help others are three of the big things that are important to me. Since starting on this journey I try to combine these three into most of my daily activities.

Celebrating with my family and friends earlier this year when we launched the Foggy Frog Kickstarter campaign

Celebrating with my family and friends earlier this year when we launched the Foggy Frog Kickstarter campaign

Once you have an idea of where you are and where you want to be. It’s time to get started and take the first step towards your goal (where you want to be).

This step will be different for everyone because it will be based on where you are and where you want to go, but we’ve shared a few ideas below to help get you started.

Simple ideas to use as a first step towards a simple, sustainable, meaningful life…

 

Depending on where you are and where you’re heading you may decide to focus on simplifying your physical environment, your timetable, or your spiritual/emotional wellbeing.

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  • Declutter your wardrobe (or your medicine cabinet, bathroom or laundry). Start with a small area in your house and physically clear it out keeping only what you’ll need. If you’re worried about throwing out something you’ll need later, pack them away and if you haven’t used them in 3 – 6 months get rid of it by donating, recycling or other means. You’ll find when your physical environment is more open you”ll feel calmer and more organised.
  • Declutter your timetable by modifying, cutting back or removing activities you don’t like doing or don’t really need to do. Say ‘No’ to all new commitments that don’t fit with your definition of what you want your life to be.
  • Meditate for 1o minutes each day. This will help you clear your mind and help you to realise what is most important to you.
  • Plant some herbs. Growing your own food can be very satisfying but also very time consuming. Herbs can easily be grown in pots inside if you don’t have room, are not too expensive, and are great for encouraging you to cook simple homemade meals.

[/checklist]

 

Fresh veggies cut from our veggie patch.

Fresh veggies cut from our veggie patch.

As we start our journey we’ve begun with a bit of each of these.

Personally, I have added meditation into my daily routine, I’ve begun decluttering our house, and have a veggie patch and some fruit trees in the garden. Thanks to my illness I have had to cut back on a lot of my activities and I’m very careful about adding new activities to my schedule without considering my values and my life goals.

Janelle has begun decluttering her wardrobe, and will be sharing this journey with you next week. She is adding fruit trees to their garden and sharing responsibility of looking after our veggie patch.

We’d love to hear about your journey and what first steps you are considering taking towards your dream lifestyle.

Let us know in the comments below or contact us directly.

Which area of your life do you most want to change?

What’s one small step you could take today to start moving towards the change you want in your life?

Maintaining Mental Functioning with Chronic Illness

28 Apr 14
Megan
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How do I maintain mental functioning when I have a chronic illness? If you read my posts last week you’d know that lately I’ve been getting back into reading after almost a year of not being able to physically read a book.

I’m reading both fiction and non-fiction and at the moment the main focus of my non-fiction books is my health. I did a review last week of one of the books I read, The Complete Fibromyalgia Health, Diet Guide and Cookbookand I’m currently reading a book that has been called ‘a much-needed bible of information’ (Professor Warren P. Tate) for people living with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/Myalgic Encephalomyelitis, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome M.E.: Symptoms, Diagnosis, Management by Dr Rosamund Vallings.

Image from Goodreads

Image from Goodreads

I will write a review of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome M.E. once I have finished reading it but today I want to talk about how these books are affecting my decision making processes.

Both of these books have got me thinking about how I’m managing my conditions both physically and mentally. Although there is a lot of overlap in the recommendations in each book, there are some major differences as well. The main one I have come across so far is in regards to exercise and diet recommendations. That is not the topic of todays discussion so I’ll expand more on that later.

Managing the mental aspect of these conditions (the brain fog, memory issues and mental health impacts such as secondary depression) can be especially difficult when you are suffering from multiple conditions are unsure which illness/condition is causing each symptom. Dr Vallings advocates for the saying ‘Use it or lose it’ for both physical and mental activities but puts a proviso on how much you use it at one time to take into account pacing and minimising symptoms.

The ‘Use it or lose it’ attitude is probably a good one to have but pacing is the key for ME/CFS. For example, this post has taken me an hour to write but I have had to break that into two blocks with a break in between as my current activity limit I’m working to is 30 minutes of computer work at a time.

I’m yet to read Dr Vallings chapter on depression so I can’t comment on how she recommends minimising the impact of this additional condition, but I can say that she believes that everyone suffering from a chronic condition such as ME/CFS is likely to experience depression at one point or another.

Both books advocate a positive outlook on life, recommending treatments such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy to help us be able to turn negative thoughts into positive ones. The psychologist I saw earlier in my illness believed I was doing well at maintaining a positive outlook at that stage of the illness so we didn’t use Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, but he did say that it was likely if this illness continues for a longer period of time (which it appears to be doing) I may need help in the future.

My current goals that are focussed on mainitaing my mental functioning are as follows:

  • Daily meditation as part of my relaxation time to help promote a calm and positive outlook on life.
  • Daily reading (at least 30 minutes) that is broken into maximum 30 minute blocks. As previously discussed I aim to use reading for both fun/relaxation and educational purposes, encouraging my mind to begin to think about being strategic and creative again (both skills I need if I want to keep working in my current role when I return to work).
  • Daily writing, either here on my blog or in my diary (which I haven’t used much since starting this blog).
  • Daily drawing to encourage creativity.

I don’t always manage to fit all of these in but I am using them as a guideline for daily life. I really need to get back into some sort of routine and work out exactly what my limits are so I can return to work in some capacity.

These tasks are all paced and, combined with my physical goals/guidelines, form a basis for a flexible routine that reduces stress and doesn’t increase symptoms or lead to crashes.

Maintaining mental functioning when dealing with a chronic illness can seem like an overwhelming task (I know I felt that way in the early days of my illness) but with a little planning and consideration it is possible to find ways that do not impact negatively on your health. If you are severely ill, this may mean listening to an audio book or having a crossword/puzzle next to your bed that you do a single move at a time. You may need to incorporate more rest but spending even a minute or two doing something that encourages you to think, remember or be creative would be a great start at maintaining your mental functioning.

Do you have activities you do daily or weekly that help you to maintain or increase your mental functioning (thinking strategically or creatively)?

What mental functions do you struggle with the most as a result of your illness?

Physical Friday: 3 key steps to surviving a busy week with Myalgic Encephalomyelitis and Fibromyalgia

07 Mar 14
Megan
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So… it’s Friday morning here, and the Kickstarter campaign for Foggy Frog and the Pain Gang is now in it’s 6th day and 25% funded. If you haven’t checked it out already, please head over and watch the video to understand what we are trying to achieve. This week has been the busiest week I’ve had in over 8 months but I’m surviving.

Today is the first day in a week that I don’t actually have anything ‘planned’ with a set time I have to do it. I do want to catch up on the washing and do a few other littler chores around the house, but I don’t need to go to an appointment or meet up with anyone outside. Surprisingly, although I’m fighting with Foggy Frog to stay focussed on what I’m doing and fighting with my eyelids to stay open, I’m not actually feeling as bad as I thought I would today.

It’s Physical Friday today, so I thought I’d share with you the steps I took this week that I think may have helped me survive such a busy week without a full on crash (touch wood).

(c) Megan S, December 2013

(c) Megan S, December 2013

3 Steps I took to survive my busy week

1. Plan in Advance

I knew in advance that this week was going to be extremely hectic and possibly even stressful so when booking the appointments I tried to space them out over the week and made sure I had time to rest both before and after every appointment.

To keep the impact of the Foggy Frog campaign down as low as possible I’d planned in advance how I was going to launch it. I asked friends to prepare the food, I pre-wrote all the questions for the online launch, and I prepared and scheduled emails to go out on launch day. Without having done this the launch would have been a lot more stressful for me and would have probably caused a crash on its own without adding the rest of the week’s activities.

I also had my first late night class (a 3 hour class starting at 6pm) for the illustrating children’s picture books course. Although I had no way of knowing how I was going to cope with this class, I had made plans for E to be ready to pick me up at any stage if it got too much and I made sure the tutor knew that if I left early it wasn’t that I didn’t want to be there, it was that I couldn’t last any longer. (Luckily it actually finished slightly early and I made it to the end).

2. Be Gentle on Yourself

There were multiple times during the week when I started to feel that it was all getting a bit too much and I wasn’t going to cope. At these points in time I made myself stop whatever I was doing, sit or lie down, close my eyes and just breath for a while. This technique seemed to work well as ‘mini breaks’ throughout the days when there was no way I was going to get my normal rest.

I also prepared mentally and let myself know that it was OK if I couldn’t get everything done. I gave myself permission to leave things early, or cancel appointments, and even though I didn’t need to do this in the end having the permission removed the additional stressors from my days.

3. Take Regular Breaks

This was a big one, and I discussed in more detail on Wednesday how I was planning to do this. Finding time for myself and just relaxing was probably key to reducing the impact of this week on my health and wellbeing. I’ve had 3 baths this week, done several short meditations, and taken very short breaks just to breath as I outlined above. The baths all used Epsom salts which increase my magnesium levels and reduce cramping, so they were extremely beneficial on the nights I was feeling over it all. The other activities just gave me mental space to step back and assess where I was at thus avoiding too much stress and discomfort.

These three steps have been vital to me this week and I will keep on using them during the rest of the Kickstarter campaign. We have just over 21 days to go and $5,600 still to raise. I know that we will make it because I know how important this book is for our community.

Everyone I have spoken to who suffer from any of the invisible illnesses (Fibromyalgia, ME/cfs, MS, Lupus, etc) all have the same story to tell… Lack of awareness and understanding (and even misunderstanding) in the general community about what it’s like to live with these invisible illnesses. Foggy Frog is the first step in providing awareness and understanding to the wider community on what this is like.

Do you have any other steps you would add for surviving a busy week?

Have you found you can maintain a higher level of activity for an extended period of time without crashing?

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Please get behind Foggy Frog and the Pain Gang. Add your voice to ours in letting it be known that we want to be heard. A donation of just $1 will add your name to our list and the more people we get working together, the more likely it is that the general population will stand up and take notice. Visit http://bit.ly/FoggyFrog and pledge your support today.

Wisdom Wednesday: Meditation Part 2

19 Feb 14
Megan

14 comments

Today is a really busy day, so was yesterday, so I’m going to keep this short today (I’ve already done a post this morning letting you know about our Foggy Frog Thunderclap). Today’s post is a follow up from last week’s meditation post . Yesterday I had the second meditation class.

Wisdom Wednesday - meditation

(c) Megan S, December 2013

 

The key thing I learnt about meditation last night, is one of the simple breathing techniques used in meditation. Unfortunately brain fog means I can’t remember the name of it, but I can remember how to do it.

Steps for breathing techniques:

Step 1
After making yourself comfortable, settle in and focus on your breathing.

Step 2
Focus on breathing in for 4 breaths and out for 4 breaths.

Step 3
After you’ve got your breath consistently in and out for the count of 4, start to add a break in between the in and out breath. Begin with a break for a count of 2 and increase to a level you are comfortable (up to a break for a count of 4).

Give it a try, it definitely helps me to focus my mind more and relax properly. 🙂

What techniques do you use to help you focus and relax?

Wisdom Wednesday: Meditation

12 Feb 14
Megan
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Wisdom Wednesday Meditation

(c) Megan S, December 2013

I started a 5 week meditation course last night, it involves one hour, one night a week spent in a group practicing meditation. The course is for beginners (I was the only one there who had practiced at all before starting) so I’m hoping to learn some useful tips to help my meditation practice at home. I’m also hoping it will help me with my struggle to relax and focus.

Source: Pintrest meditation

Source: Pintrest

The first session gave me mixed feelings about the course. On one hand I got some useful tips, on the other hand I struggled to stay awake and pain-free until the end of the hour.

The cushions they used were not like the ones I’ve seen before and begun making:

(c) Megan S, January 2014

(c) Megan S, January 2014

They were more like very hard, flat square cushions. I’m not sure why they were providing these cushions and promoting them as good for meditation when half the class (including me) needed to modify how we were sitting by folding up blankets on top of the cushion. I think next week I’ll take in one of the cushions I’ve made and see what the instructor thinks.

I want to share with you the useful tips I got from the course.

How to ensure you are sitting in the most appropriate position for meditating:

  1. Sit forward on your sit bones. When sitting upright lean slightly forward so you can feel that you’re sitting on the forward part of your sit bones.
  2. Have a natural curve in your lower back. Don’t attempt to straighten it completely.
  3. Have your hip bones tilted down and forwards. This will help with achieving #1, sit forward on your sit bones.
  4. Your chin should be parallel to the floor and pulled back. This helps to lengthen the top part of your neck and ensures you’re sitting up right

If you manage to do these four steps correctly, your paranervous system (I think I’ve spelt that right!) will not kick in and you shouldn’t fall asleep while you’re sitting still.

After the class I discussed with the instructor the fact that my back was getting very sore and I was struggling to focus by the end of the session. Her suggestion was that if that occurs, lie down. It’s not the ideal posture for meditation but it should alleviate some of the pain.

I hope these tips help you, and I will share any more that come out of the next four classes.

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Do you meditate?

How do you maintain posture and focus?

Mental Mondays: Taking a break to move forward

10 Feb 14
Megan
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This weekend I took another break from technology and spent my time relaxing with E at the beach. It reinforced for me the need to get away regularly and not think about the projects, problems and other things you have going on in life.

(c) Megan S, December 2013

(c) Megan S, December 2013

 

By taking a break I was able to refocus on being grateful for the little things in life and, for a little while at least, I was able to clear my mind.

Spending Saturday just relaxing on the beach being grateful for the good weather. Sunshine, children playing, warm sand (got a bit too hot by the end of the day), and spending time with E. It was a wonderful way to spend the day. I managed to go in the water a few times throughout the day, but spent most of it just resting.

“Be grateful for what you have, while in

Now that I am back home and getting back into my normal life I’m realising how much I have to be grateful for in the here and now. Looking back on last week, a week in which I didn’t feel like I achieved anything, I recognise that I did actually manage to do quite a bit. Between doctors and accupuncture appointments I managed to help make dinner a few times, went swimming, and visited my mum!

Renewing my passion

After a weekend off I’m feeling a renewed desire to move forward towards my dreams while staying aware of the little things there are to be grateful for in my daily life.

My goal for this week is to make at least 4 more wheatbags and list them on the Foggy Frog Etsy Store, keep promoting the Foggy Frog and the Pain Gang campaign and begin a 5 week meditation course at a local yoga studio.

I’d love it if everyone could sign up to the Foggy Frog and the Pain Gang Newsletter… It’d help me keep in touch with all of you about the project which is moving towards it’s official launch on Sunday 2 March 2014.

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