Mindfulness for My Mental Health

The biggest thing I took away from my therapy was how mindfulness can help me. It isn’t for everyone, but it’s definitely for me.

“Mindfulness” means something different to everyone. For me, I’m being mindful and aware when I don’t have dozens of thoughts swirling through my head. I’m mindful when thoughts come and go easily. I’m mindful when I’m not replaying memories without control. I’m mindful when I’m not instantly forgetting information after repeatedly taking it in.

Ways I practise mindfulness:

Bullet journalling

Through planning and being aware of my days, weeks, and the future, I get a better grasp on myself. I find I dissociate a lot less when I’ve got a solid plan—or even a loose one—than when I’m just flying through life spontaneously. I don’t do a lot of journalling in the traditional sense (anymore), like a diary. But the bullet journal is still one heck of a journal.

Tarot reading

Doing a few spreads and asking the cards a certain question (“What can I expect from my day?” for instance) or doing a quick check-in for my body, mind, and spirit lets me hone in on myself. I can see what’s bothering me or what I want in the subconscious while also attaching those feelings to something more tangible. The symbols, metaphors, and long-standing history of tarot give me a place to translate my emotions. I don’t aim to read the future or anything like that—but tarot is a great way to reconnect spiritually with myself.

Guided meditation

One of my favourite websites for guided meditations is Fragrant Heart. I will also occasionally do a self-guided meditation, either in silence, or using atmospheric sounds like rain and wind. Meditation helps the most. The best analogy for meditation is that I’m sitting in a car in the passenger seat and watching my thoughts like trees along the side of the road. I can acknowledge the trees without focusing on them or distracting myself from them. The core to meditation is not to let your mind go blank: it’s to acknowledge your thoughts and let them pass by.

Yoga

Psychosomatic treatment was a focus of my therapist’s, and yoga was something I started doing before I went to therapy. Yoga combines the meditation with awareness about my body. Yoga isn’t a workout for me. It’s how I connect my emotional, bodily, and spiritual parts.


All of these ways let me meditate on myself and, in turn, let me be more in-tune with myself. I have less brain fog and feel more present. I’ve lived most of my life being dissociated and disconnected. Finding ways that make me feel real and whole are valuable and irreplaceable.

Therapy Diary: Mindfulness

Blue and white paint splattered and dripping down a black wall.

When I was in therapy last year, my counsellor told me that the goal for our sessions would be creating mindfulness. There were a number of ways we worked through being aware of my body and my emotions. Because my PTSD is very dissociative, it means there’s a mind-emotion-body disconnect. I often feel “outside” of myself in varying ways. Sometimes I am a floating balloon being held by my body. Sometimes I am a suitcase being dragged. Dissociation is a beast in itself and I wrote a short blog post on it a few months ago. This post acts as a bit of a follow-up.

Along with the exercises we did, such as identifying where an emotion existed in the body and describing it (anger being in my throat, or despair being in my belly—that kind of thing), I use or have used these tools to become more aware and mindful of my entire existence:

  • journalling
  • yoga
  • meditation
  • tarot reading

I don’t journal as much as I used to while I was in therapy. I think this is because I’ve gotten better at being mindful/aware/in-tune/etc. Journalling was a very explicit way of creating awareness of my emotions and my body, and the relationship between the two.

These days, I lean toward yoga, meditation, and tarot reading. The yoga helps with my mind-body connection, with a focus on my body and how it connects within itself. The meditation points me toward the relationship between my mind and body while emphasising my emotions, feelings, and thoughts.

Tarot reading is a new one, though. I grasp onto symbols and metaphors, and that’s all tarot is. I don’t use a classic tarot deck, with Major Arcana and whatnot. Instead, I use regular 52-card playing cards with numbers and suits. There’s an additional layer of abstraction with these cards. The symbols and metaphors come from interpretation of the numbers and the suits. Instead of seeing a moon or a sun, I have to consider my own intuition and understanding for the numbers and suits.

When it comes to the tarot reading, I do a combination of reading cards for in-depth interpretation of a single card, or I do a self-reading with a 3- or 4-card spread. Some spreads require a question to answer, and others are assessment or guidance spreads. I don’t read the cards for prophecy or fortune-telling. I read them so there’s somewhere I can project my worries, concerns, desires, and intuitions.

On the whole, creating mindfulness has been the key to lessening my dissociative states—whether by frequency or intensity. I have been plagued by a constant disconnect between my mind and body because connecting the two was dangerous during my traumatic childhood. There’s been a lot of learning, trial and error, and patience involved. I have to constantly work in order to hinder the PTSD from dictating my life, but I’m finding ways that let me progress.