I Am Not My Illnesses

Sun shining through an up close enlarged pink lily flower in a green field with a blurred blue sky. Text overlay: "I am not my illnesses: how the concept of a soul helps me. Spoonielifestyle.com"

In yogic philosophy there is the concept of the known and the knower, or the field and the farmer. You observe your body, your mind, and your thoughts, but you know that is not who you are. The knower, your true self, is a soul with an inner, divine light who sees your body, mind and thoughts. Then, you cultivate and care for them.

The concept of a soul, or my true identity, was something I always struggled with. As a bipolar person, whenever I was going through a depressive episode, I was always told “that’s just part of your personality” or “that’s just who you are.” And that always hurt. I didn’t want I be the dark sides of “me,” whoever she was. If I was this monster I would certainly be doomed to my personal hell forever.

I discovered Speaking Bipolar and Bipolar Hope, then began sending articles that resonated with me to my friends and loved ones. After sending one article to my mother, she explained she did not know that what I was experiencing as a “negative personality trait” or a “negative personality” was actually a symptom of bipolar, or an illness. It was not something that I was, like having fibromyalgia.

None of my family would define me as a “fibromyalgian” or a fibro, but they would probably all say I’m bipolar and not a person with bipolar. Chronic pain may have a huge grip on my life, but it is not something others define me by, let alone experience with me. Bipolar has been more damaging due to its impact on my relationships and led to developing medically induced lupus. So, yeah. The body follows the mind.

But my body and mind are not who I am. Who I am is the unchanging essence who comes from the Divine God who created the universe. I am God’s child. This is who I always was and who I will always be. The concept of this gives me great peace. Now, I can tend to my field better.

Namaste: The Light In Me Recognizes and Admires the Light that Shines in You

A woman in a cross legged position with a relaxed face in a forest.
Image by feelgoodjunkie from Pixabay

I finished my first week of yoga school yesterday, and already it has been an enlightening experience. For one thing, it expanded on the idea of what the path to a higher consciousness is/heaven/God is — and that is love. Love for yourself, devotion to love, which leads to love for others. This is largely self-care, which doesn’t necessarily mean mani pedis and bubble baths. It’s getting to know yourself and learning to love what you find. You seek and find.

This also means that I can feel gratitude for my body as a vessel, which helps me to deal with my chronic pain better. Saying thank you to my body for however much it can move helps me to move even more. It is true I am in a pain flare, but I am still moving through it.

One thing I have found is that everyone is an embodiment of light, or love, and we all deserve to love ourselves and be shown love. This means I treat everyone the same, from my husband to my dog, and have love towards myself when I inevitably mess up. I should have been able to learn this from my upbringing alone, but sometimes looking at pretty much the same thing from another angle helps to absorb the message.

I have a few Christian followers, and I assure you what I have learned largely lines up with Christian philosophy. You cannot love God without feeling love yourself. There is a teaching of grace and works towards oneself and others in yoga philosphy.

I am writing this as a reflection of the history of yoga and yoga philosophy that I have learned on my first week of class. I found it to be extremely interesting and worthy to pass on.

Namaste,

Meara

I Started Yoga School: My Longtime Yoga Teacher Training Goal Realized as a Spoonie 200 YTT Yoga & Ayurveda Center

A woman on a pink mat with a white background extending her body into the cobra yoga position - shoulders back, head tilted upward, feet pointing downward, hips and legs hovering above the mat.
Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

Before I developed chronic pain, I had a host of mental health disorders. Two biggies were dissociation and anxiety. I would bump into people walking around in public, duck out of hallways to be met by a face too flustered to apologize (and not sure to apologize). Not to mention my health was poor in general. I lacked stamina and self-esteem (problems which came back later).

My university offered 200 level and 300 level kinesiology courses in yoga for a required fitness credit. I took three of these required 200 level courses because I loved it so much.

Gradually, through learning savasana and deep breathing through poses, I became more in tune with myself. I began to see the world around me and my place in it. It was easier to not bump into people in public and my posture improved — because I was now aware of how my physical body felt.

Outside of my kinesiology classes, I took yoga at the recreational center daily, and purchased a yoga mat (which has now been destroyed by cats, and I badly need a new one).

I fell out of yoga when I graduated college due to working the night shift, but journeyed back once I developed chronic pain. I found I still remembered many of the asanas and my yoga textbook from college. Surprisingly I was still limber — although the philosophy of yoga is so much more than that.

Right now 45 minutes a day of yoga is helping my pain flare, any more than that is damaging me. I am hoping I can pull out of this okay. Right now the Yoga Alliance is letting online students register with them upon completion of a Registered Yoga School’s program by December 30, and I intend to do just that.

I can throw myself really hard at things, and I’m trying not to do that. Pacing for me is very difficult. Currently I’m reading the Bhagavad Gita as an audiobook and copying my notes from the past two days.

Should you wish to become a registered yoga teacher, check out the Yoga Alliance’s Rating on the Yoga & Ayurveda Center, my school. I am taking the 200 level RYS and loving it so far!

My goal of becoming a yoga teacher is to help other chronically ill people with chronic pain like myself, and to also heal myself: body and mind.

The light in me recognizes and observes the light inside you,

Meara

My Fibromyalgia Exercise Plan

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This past week a friend confronted me about how I wasn’t taking care of myself, and I had to admit that I wasn’t doing exactly everything I could to fight fibromyalgia. A big problem that I have is physical therapy because my husband and I simply can’t afford it. I tried it four times before we realized we went 3k over our budget. It did help, but if there is no money, there’s no money.

Then there is yoga. I have a hard time focusing on yoga nowadays due to fibrofog. When I was first diagnosed with fibromyalgia in August 2019, I tackled it head on like a football player on a ball. I exercised for almost two hours every day until winter began. What I did was yoga for 45 minutes, then I would swim for another 45 minutes.

As an already trained yogi I could do yoga with minimal guidance. However, winter came and ouched my joints and fascia. I also had to plan two weddings – my original big outdoor wedding and then my emergency house wedding. The stress was high, and my body deteriorated. I fell off the exercise horse.

After my wedding, things got even more worse with family situations. However, now I’m at a place where I believe I can start gently getting back into exercise.

My Gentle Fibromyalgia Exercise Routine: 5 Minute Increments

The key to my exercise routine is to exercise for 30 minutes, broken up in 6 rounds of 5 minute increments throughout your day.

First thing in the morning, do four different yoga stretches.

Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

Start by stretching your arms overhead, then touch your toes. Swing your arms back up above your head and lean your arms from side to side.

Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

Breathe in, swoop your arms directly above the center of your head, then draw them down to the center of your chest at your heart.

Now, you’re ready for your five minute interval!

The Five Minute Interval Cardio

Set a timer on your phone for 5 minutes, turn on your favorite music, and hop on your exercise bike, jump rope, elliptical, or trampoline.

I used an exercise bike, but not everyone has those. You could also punch a punching bag, just make sure it’s a cardio workout and you only do it for five minutes.

Then, when you’re finished, set a timer for one hour. Then go through the yoga stretches and the 5 minute cardio again until you’ve completed 6 rounds.

Notes

If you need more rest than an hour, it’s okay. I didn’t strictly follow the hour rule due to things needing to be done, but it’s a useful tool.

If you have any physical therapy exercises that can be done while doing your intervals, such as shoulder rolls, do them!