May Series cont… The Art of Meditation~

I would like to get to the place where I did everything in a meditative state.  Do things mindfully, enjoy them, relax into them.  Even the hard parts of the day when something goes wrong, to just notice it allowing the distraction, and come back to center of my mind, which is clear now and without delusions for the most part.  I have always had the tendency to be grandiose with my ideas so it is hard to separate the delusions with excitement of life, and then meditating upon the excitement the day has unfolded.

I am getting used to not going anywhere.  Staying at home.  Meditating more and allowing it more into my day.  I have many rituals, tendency towards OCD is a part of my diagnosis.  It’s hard to relax your mind when so much is turning around up there.  But I use cbd oil and other products to enhance my meditation practice.

Meditation is not just zoning out although that is sometimes where my mind goes.

I really need to get better at it but find it hard when I am obsessed with my music or other thoughts.

But I have been taught not to worry when that happens but to just go with it.  Eventually you can relax your thoughts enough that nothing disturbs you.

Here’s my definition of what meditation is…

Meditation is the relaxing of your mind to try to induce a peaceful state.

I get there quite often when I least expect it.

I find peace and quiet to be my choice drug when my life seems out of control…

It is hard to stop and smell the roses all the time so I try to meditate with music to help relax my thoughts.  If an intruding thought of some misdeed of my past enters my mind I crush it out with memories of good times replacing the bad.

I also use lavender through the form of incense and oil and also natural mood relaxers as mentioned above).

I sometimes sit for hours in my blue chair in my green meditation room.

Sometimes I think about God and my love for Him.  Sometimes I think of nothing.  Sometimes I think of my loved ones especially my grandma who died many years ago.  Honoring our ancestors can also be a form of meditation.

Sometimes I just don’t feel like it though and that is ok too.  Going with the natural flow of the day is what works best for me.

Pax

Victoria

 

May series~benefits of walking…

Ahh!  The joys of walking.  I have walked my whole life really, with breaks in between due to injury, surgeries, births and lack of motivation.

I first walked to school as a child.  I liked it.  My little shoes hitting the street rhythmically with occasionally falling in the gutter water as I would try to balance my feet on the curb and down I would go.  The one walk when I was 5, coming home from kindergarten, when a massive St. Bernard dog hopped over the fence and chased me down licking me to death with a new best neighbor coming to my aid.  Ah life was so simple then…

Then there were the walks to high school, getting high on the way or after…

I could go on but I feel to share now how walking has helped me to get over a lot of very hard times.  When I was first on disability due to stress (2015) and had free time I would walk away the stress. I would walk for up to 14 miles a day with the average being 10-12.  I got skinny!  But got bored with that much walking.  And tired!  Felt like Forest Gump in reality…

Now I walk because I like to but it’s weird because I used to walk all the time by myself when I was motivated.  But since COVID-19, I only walk with my daughter I just feel safer that way as I am not the best to make some social distancing judgements.  And that is very important right now.  At least that is what the media tells us.  Some of us believe it and others like me question the need but do it accordingly without protest.  Anyway, it is much easier to get in the habit with a partner for accountability and motivation.

So walking the same route for the last 40 days has been to Harsin, my favorite street with a hill and pretty houses and now is the home of a little lending library which has become the highlight of our walk. There are all kinds of things to see around my neighborhood.  From watching the flowers bloom, to seeing large weeding projects expand, to saying hi to different dogs and people, UPS bringing joy to somebody as it does to us when it stops at our house, whether it’s food or some new hobby or just more of this and that that ran out.  Simple pleasures in life are not ignored right now!

But when I was walking solo (and I will again…), getting out the door was the hardest part.  Once I started walking, even if I didn’t feel like it, I can really say that I ever regretted the walk.  Oh sure, there were times when I would turn back because I just couldn’t do it (rare) or because of the temperature being too hot, cold or windy.  Dressing in layers helps though, starting out with a light jacket and t-shirt underneath.  I warm up after about 5 minutes and just tie my light jacket around my waist.  I always bring my phone and measure my walks with a Fitbit.  I average 5-8 thousand steps a day 6 days a week.  Today was a rest day only 3,000 steps.

Walking for at least 30 minutes really helps my moods to be more stable.  I sleep better at night when I walk a lot.  Right now I have an injury on my toe so have to walk in sandals that are comfy and hook in the back.  But once it is healed I hope to return to 5 miles a day.  Setting a goal helps, start small and build each day you walk.  If you don’t have a Fitbit your phone probably measures your steps and if you’re like me and have your phone on you for much of the day (have to have my music and my earbuds), your phone will track your steps which is very rewarding to see how many miles and steps.

Walking as a form of meditation done solo can be very therapeutic.  Setting an intention for someone or something as you’re walking and then meditating on it while walking and I’m often praying or have my music.  I tend to look down a lot when I walk because I am just happy anywhere I am walking.  I do stop and smell the roses (pun intended) but just being outside for me is at times overwhelming by the beauty in nature.

I have walked everywhere practically from miles of streets in Italy to walking back and forth on the carpet of my small home.  Neighborhoods in all parts of the Central Coast of California, hiking trails with my dog or a friend, some with an intense incline, beaches, tourist spots, you name it, I have walked it.

I have even done walk at home videos on Youtube favorites being Leslie Sansone happy walk one mile up to her five mile video, or Jessica Smith.  Both these lovely ladies are very upbeat and will teach you proper form and get you excited to walk at home, much of the time only needing a computer and small space to walk, walk, walk!

“And that’s all I have to say about that [walking]” Forest Gump

Pax

Victoria

p.s. next in May Series is healthy eating which I will warn you I eat the same thing almost every day 80% of the time…

The Benefits of Gardening…

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Just less than two weeks ago this area, minus the one planted lemon tree, was covered with weeds, car parts and a riding lawnmower!  My daughter weeded and I did all the raking to level it out and today added the surfboard which is on borrow.  I love to watch surfing!  My son did dig the hole for the orange tree this evening so tomorrow will plant it.

Just one example how the Corona virus is getting my gardens in shape.

Obviously today’s topic is gardening.  here is the blog I wrote last night and succeeded on most of my garden mission today.

~

Gardening!

Ah I love that word as the satisfaction that gardening can result is beyond powerful.  I often think that if I had discovered gardening before believing in God I might never had found God.  But it is in nature that I see God so I wonder if He would have spoken to me through the plants (not out loud ha ha).

To take a weed ridden piece of land or containers if you don’t have a yard and have some flowers or vegetables or even herbs and take care of them and watch them grow as you care for them is extremely rewarding.

I remember when I used to have the stamina and desire to garden all day long and then at night looking outside in the dark and shining a light on all my hard work and the beautiful plants I had planted and the lack of weeds.  Savoring the moment and getting up the next day and doing it again throughout the season.

I have several areas in my yards that need attention right now.  But the weather has been weird this year… hoping to get out there for a bit tomorrow with my daughter.  She is my awesome weeder.  I am lucky in this way.  Wait I don’t believe in luck actually.  I am fortunate to have her help anyway.   She weeds and I make everything else happen.

Here is the basic process in case you haven’t gardened before~

Weed and clean out all rocks

Break up the soil several feet deep if possible

Add amendment to the soil

Rake it in to mix with the soil

Plant away and water according to weather and the specific plants.

Add stepping stones and yard art to your liking.  I just got a metal peacock  (see pic above) with vibrant colors at the local nursery, my favorite place lately.

I have so much to do!!!!!  But got lots of time on my hands so tomorrow I’m getting dirty.

The way I know I can usually get myself out there before it gets windy or too hot or cold is to get dressed in my gardening pants, top doesn’t matter.  That sets the tone for the day.  I also say to myself, today is a gardening day on a day that I’m not going anywhere.  Tomorrow will be a gardening day!

The duties will be to finish weeding under the bench in the side garden (where my peacock resides), replace the stepping stones in a pattern I created, fertilize the lemon tree and move a bunch of green waste that my husband loaded up in the wheelbarrow, from the back to the trash can out front.

If I do more it will be to weed out front the rose garden (I have 6 rose bushes) and cut myself a rose because I lost a pound this week on WW and it is my reward.  Used to buy a bouquet but with these times… just cut one, either yellow, red or white with pink tint to it.  They smell so wonderful.  (ended up picking one of each colorJ)

I also hope my son digs the hole for the Valencia orange tree I just got which will go on the same side as the lemon tree which has produced one lemon in 2-3 years.  Finally realized I need to be fertilizing it.

Mistakes happen in gardening and much of it is trial and error according to your climate and zone, soil etc. But nature has a way of fixing things and the local nursery can be of great help to figure things out.  But expect some plants to die or not produce at all.  It happens.  Not all plants make it or thrive and others will do really well.

I happen to plant from transplants at a non-profit farm that benefits the mentally disordered in our area.  They do all the planting and gardening and sell the plants for next to nothing.  It is literally 3 long blocks form my home!  Only open on Thursdays and Saturdays though so my goal this week before Saturday is for my daughter to finish the weeding on the side garden so I can start planting some late season vegetables.

Notice a theme here.  Gardening is easier with help!!!  But I have not always had help.  I used to do all the weeding when my daughter was away for college.  Now I just wait for her.  I have some hip issues also so have to be careful with not squatting or kneeling too long.  I have a cushioned kneeling pad I picked up at the dollar store that has carried us through many seasons.  Saves the knees and pants.

Have I convinced you to start a garden yet albeit small and manageable?

Hope so!

Digging in the earth is especially rewarding even with gloves which I always wear now.  Rich soil, combined with regular watering and compost tea is my secret to happy plants.  You can make compost tea with a large bucket of water, some nylons or thin socks filled with compost in the water and let it make your rich compost tea in a week.  Let it set in a sunny area.  I need to make some.  Apply to the base of all your plants!  No miracle grow needed.  Apply tea as often as you like depending on the size of your bucket or container.

Gardening is methodical.  I take great care with all plants.  I love all life!

Of course the internet can give you way more tips than this.

The hardest part for me in gardening despite pulling weeds is getting out there so I tell myself I’m going to do it for ten minutes and see how I feel.  I usually keep going at least a half an hour but if it’s only the ten minutes that’s ok too.  The satisfaction is endless as is the work but worth it in the end.  (today was an hour!)

Pax

Victoria

p.s. Next topic in this May series is the benefits of walking!

The benefits of having a spiritual practice…

Victoria here!  Peace be with all of you in these distressing times.  But I’m glad you stopped in to check out the second blog of the May series.  If spiritual talk makes you uncomfortable, I used to be atheist so you never know where you will end up.

Anyway, without further ado here it is.~

The benefits of having a spiritual practice

Often, when I remember I pray an Our Father to God for His will to be done before I decide what to do next.  It helps.  Christ before me, Christ around me, Christ above me, Christ in all things be His Glory.

I used to be an atheist many years ago.  It was the emptiest time of my life.  I took off to New York City when I was 18 to become a famous actress/singer.  Well I was too busy panhandling, doing drugs, squatting in an abandoned apartment building, and God knows what else.  I came back after one winter there, broken.  I started rehab with my parents help and started going to NA meetings.  This is where I found God, or He found me.  God is not lost; we are.

So I took very seriously the steps of this program.  I was asked in my recovery to find a higher power that was greater than myself.  Well, I was compliant and one day I was at the beach and I chose the ocean because of its vastness, power and beauty.

A few days later it struck me that something had made that ocean.  I came to believe in God that easy.  Later, I accepted Jesus in my heart as my personal Lord and Savior and eventually reverted back to the Catholic Church my childhood religion which I practiced for 20 years.  I became attracted to the teachings of the Buddha although I am not Buddhist.  The open teachings of the Buddha took me on my continued spiritual path.  I’m not sure what I am now, but believe it doesn’t matter.  I do believe in Christ and much of the wisdom of Buddha and do still consider myself a Catholic although not practicing.

My favorite saying by the Buddha is to “Do no harm”.  And I try to live by that principle.

I am going to share with you my very personal spiritual practice.  I used to be way more religious prior to receiving the gift of schizophrenia in 2006 and then for a year and a half when I was psychotic and thought I was receiving messages from God.

Then nothingness… for many years.  The meds stopped it all, the voices and messages.  Emptiness, silence, and peace at last from the demanding messages.  It was a bittersweet period for several reasons.  But eventually I wrote a book, which is no longer available, about some of my spiritual beliefs.  I do have a few copies if anyone wants one though.

It is called, “Loving God, suffering and being in His will for all”.  It is a blend of my first book and has a book in it.  I’m complicated with no apologies though because at the time I felt inspired by God to write and finish it and it took a lot of years to do so.

We have a thousand and one choices every day and if I don’t take care of my spirit, all else doesn’t matter.  If I do a good deed, I try to keep it quiet only sharing when I hope it will inspire others to think of other people as well.  There is just so much need right now and we can’t do it without the power from above, under and around us.  Can’t see the wind but it’s there.  Same with God.  I can’t feel Him but believe in His loving presence in every aspect of my life.

But I am getting ahead of myself.

I start my day with prayer, Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory Be.  Then I read the Church teachings.  I meditate throughout the day and offer up all my suffering to God .  I pray my rosary at least a few decades daily and love the Memore.

I think the point I want to get across is that whatever your belief system it is good to have a routine of some sort.  Starting my day with prayer enables me to look up to heaven and place my requests before God for the day.  But your routine might not look anything like that.

Some sort of Higher Power, without sounding too NA, in your life will really help you to take care of your spirit.

For those non-believers who have made it this far, God only knows your reasons for not believing in Him or something greater than yourself, don’t fret.  Stressing will not lead you down a good path.  Just relax and offer up an intention in the wind for some sort of belief in the unknown.

Only when we die will we know the truth and I don’t believe it stops there but I will repeat what I have heard many times in my life.  I would rather err on the side of caution and if the day I die there is nothing everlasting it won’t matter but if I do believe in something then wham! life everlasting in heaven, nirvana or endless bliss for all our suffering on earth and despite our misdeeds will be rewarded for an act of kindness.  So go do one good deed and let your intention be to believe in something, anything.

I don’t always have faith but I believe despite how I feel.

Many people with Schizophrenia suffer from religious obsession; but then can’t connect with God once on medication.  I feel for you and I have no answers beyond that although we do not know why this has happened to us, it has and many people have it worse.  If you are reading this blog and are in this category start with yoga and meditation, which is the next topic in this series.  Relax and take it easy.  Don’t be hard on God for He gives to those He loves the most the hardest sufferings and having Schizophrenia is indeed a huge suffering.

Where I feel I could improve is to do my chores with an intention while doing them, or to remember to set one before starting long or short mundane tasks.

Peace be with you, in Christ,

Pax

Victoria

 

May series~The benefits of yoga and dedication…

I dedicate this May series to a dear friend whose husband passed away last night.  It was sudden.  I am in shock but trying to move on and do the next thing…

which is to publish the first blog of this May series.

So here it is.  As usual I can be reached at victoriamariealonso@yahoo.com for any comments or questions

God bless

The benefits of yoga for people with Schizophrenia or other mental health disorder or anybody really…

Yoga grounds you.

Can bring you back to reality if only for a few moments of your day.

I hate to do hard things so I am really only talking about the easy kind of poses that are meant to be done deeply and properly.  See Youtube with Adrienne for ideas and guided routines that will teach you proper form and give you a good work out if you are so inclined.  For poses that are too difficult, take a break and go into child’s pose.

I like to start on the ground on my thick mat with cat/cow pose and deeply stretch into each counting to 20.  Then I go into child’s pose, can finally get my forehead to the ground!

I am always ok when I am doing yoga.

I usually do it at night but do it throughout the day most days… but I always stretch.   Feels good to take care of my body.  I follow my dog’s lead and often stretch with them in mornings.

Yoga makes you strong when one lets it.

Yoga relaxes you when you need it.

Yoga is a magical journey into your body with your own muscles and tendons flexing and pointing all your body parts.

I like to close my eyes and just rest them as I connect with the earth.

Lying on my back, reaching high into the air with my feet and my hands with a pillow or bolster to support my back and my shrinking body.

I have lost 30 pounds to date since September 2019 on WW but that is a topic for another day.

I have not always had a regular practice, quite the opposite…

I have always wanted to do yoga but the desire grew so strong in me that I created my own space long before regular practice.  I followed yogis on Facebook, made a yoga collage, signed up for a free magazine, you get the idea.  And now I am finally using it when I feel the need.  At any moment in the day I can get out my mat and practice.

I have been to a few classes and enjoyed it but I like to move at my own pace and one class I took before all this craziness in the world, was a class that taught how to deepen your poses.   I also attended several classes prior to learn correct form although I often practice my own version depending on my mood and energy level all at home naturally.

My favorite pose though other than pigeon with supported blocks deeply stretching the hip and leg area

Is…

The corpse pose

I save this for the end but sometimes if it is a long routine (20-30 minutes) I do it in the middle too because hey who hates to not take a nap and rest muscles?  It is just basically laying there and it’s extra nice to have an eye pillow with some scent of lavender as you just relax and allow calm to overcome you.  I do use music throughout my routine but you don’t have to.  I am just more relaxed that way but that’s just me.

Connecting to the earth your whole body especially the corpse pose.

Outside yoga can be very beneficial.  I have done yoga anywhere, the beach, the park etc..  This helps in many ways to feel the earth, floor or sand and know it is real.  The warmth or the cold of the surface, just notice it, make no judgement, relax into it as your body adapts to its temperature and take a deep breath exhaling slowly then do it again.

Lastly, must mention your indoor yoga practice room.  I call mine my meditation room.  I painted it calm green because that is Jason Mraz’s favorite color!  No seriously I love nature and it feels like I am in a forest when I am laying on my bed and praying the rosary.  The tree as my son describes it is like the room is its leaves.  I also love my mandala that reminds me of God being at the center of EVERYTHING!

Pax

Victoria

May 2020 Series~

Welcome to this series, which may be the first of many. I am doing extremely well during this pandemic; been working on my mental, physical and spiritual health to a great degree. I wanted to share with all of you how my life has changed during these most difficult times. I look forward to each day and although I am mainly very focused, I still have my moments of difficulty but am symptom free.

Prior to this pandemic, I would just sit for hours all day long and maybe get the dishes done. But now, sitting isn’t what I want to do anymore. Ironically, writing about all these topics of what has benefited me, has been beneficial.

Here are the topics so far for the May series. Feel free to click on the link to go to the page. Any comments are welcome!

The topic for the June 2020 series is Caregivers! It’s my daughters birthday month and I think this theme is fitting because she has been my main caregiver since I was diagnosed in 2008. Although I don’t need her support anymore like I once did, her care for me was priceless. If anyone is a caregiver and would like a certain topic discussed, I would be happy to oblige as I am able. As usual I can be reached at my private email: victoriamariealonso@yahoo.com

Peace to all of you

pax

Victoria