change is good

Mental detox

FORGETYou know how people go through a detox phase when they start eating healthy? It can be kinda unpleasant, right? I’m thinking that there is clearly the mental equivalent of a detox like that.

The reason I’m thinking this is that I’ve spent the last two decades slowly becoming more stressed. I go to bed with exhaustion and I get up feeling tense from a bad night of sleep and discomfort. I walk with this tension in my shoulders, and it takes a little time before I really relax. It is only the impact of stress on my body, but it all adds up to this overall sense of feeling confined by the stress.

In the last year I have started to put more thought toward mindfully letting go of this stress. I could say it takes effort, but effort is the wrong word. I turn my attention toward this practice. It takes the shape of whatever the moment allows: a brief session of awkward yoga, sitting quietly in a dimly lit room, doing the dishes. In each case, as is necessary, I must breathe. If you have practiced mindfulness in any way, you know what I mean by breathing. More than just what keeps us alive. Breathing as it was meant to be.

Yet, in the midst of all this attention toward the breath and letting go of my stress, I feel like a mental detox happens. It’s not brief, but ongoing. Pain lessens where before pain was abundant. I turn my attention toward the pain and I accept it a little more, then encourage it to stop wasting my time. So it lessens. Then, as if pain doesn’t want to let go of me when I am letting go of it, a new pain comes into existence. Now a shoulder is hurting, and I tell the pain not to stick around. It leaves. Now my foot hurts, an act of desperation. Pain is trying to stay an existing thing, but I am not interested in spending any more time with it than I must.

So I see these little fires appear in my body and I snuff them out. As if they are just an illusion.

What seems to be the truth is what I read about the Mind-Body connection and how it relates to pain. We don’t need to be attached. The body will heal. Stress is something not worth practicing so much. Read Mind Over Medicine by Dr. Lissa Rankin and you’ll see plenty of stories of how people were able to heal themselves. Or watch her Ted Talk. This is something I will continue to study, because I need to study it.

So perhaps this is the Mental Detox phase I am going through. I’m hopeful that I’ll reach a phase where I find deeper healing, and perhaps return to normalcy after so many years.

By J. Parrish Lewis

J. Parrish Lewis was born and raised in Maryland. In his youth there, he and his brother had many adventures in the dogwood forests near his home. His nostalgia for these adventures has strongly influenced his characters, their relationships, and their perspective on the world they inhabit. He moved to California’s coast to earn his degree in communications and now lives with his family in the San Joaquin Valley. Lewis is profoundly deaf and uses American Sign Language to communicate. He enjoys hazelnut coffee, captioned movies, and walking his dog.

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