What Gives You a Sense of Wellbeing?

I watched a documentary online last week called The Sacred Science. The filmmakers followed the journey of eight people with serious health conditions who traveled to the Amazon Rainforest to be treated by indigenous healers (after Western Medicine proved ineffective). One of these people was a woman who’d been sexually abused as a child. By the time she left the rainforest, she had such a tangible sense of wellbeing, you could feel it. She was practically luminous. That was my perception anyway.

For most of my life, I have not felt very relaxed or peaceful inside. Neither have I had much of a sense of wellbeing. This is understandable since I have PTSD and one of my main symptoms has been hypervigilance. My body/brain has rarely felt safe enough for me to feel at peace.

Drinking gave me a synthetic sense of wellbeing in my teen years. After I quit drinking, I got into tranquilizers. They certainly gave me a peaceful, easy feeling, but I bottomed out on them fast. In my late 30’s, early 40’s, painkillers were my “solution”. They made me feel just dandy for maybe two years. I quit a daily habit after five.

Anti-depressants and anti-psychotics never gave me a sense of wellbeing. Imipramine and Zyprexa made me sleepy at night, though, which was helpful when I had a career. I needed my sleep. They stopped working eventually, too.

For a while now, I’ve been thinking, If only we could win Little Lotto, we could go on a trip to C__ B__ in Wisconsin. Every time we’ve gone to this gorgeous resort, I’ve felt so wonderfully relaxed, at peace, filled with wellbeing. It’s a marvelous place in the middle of 300 acres of forest. There are lakes and streams and wildlife, a fabulously stocked library, the dinners are out of this world and the Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired cabins are beautiful. But it’s terribly expensive and I don’t know when we’ll have that kind of dough again.

Going someplace like I described might make it more conducive for me to relax and feel good, but in the end–it’s an inside job really. Theoretically, I don’t have to go anywhere to change the way I feel.

But with my crazy hypervigilance, unpredictable fight-or-flight surges and sleep issues, feeling peaceful has been somewhat of an elusive state of being for me.

The last two nights, as I closed my eyes to fall asleep, I asked myself, What relaxes me? What gives me a sense of wellbeing?

I sometimes feel relaxed after vigorous exercise.

I used to find the still point within with mindful meditation, but when I got off the meds three years ago, my buried trauma energy came pouring out like nobody’s business. The result was when I got quiet and focused on mindfully meditating, I’d usually sob like a baby or fall asleep due to sleep deprivation. But as a rule, mindful meditation increases my sense of wellbeing.

Sometimes I relax when I color. Although I’ve seen adult coloring books in the drugstore, I prefer the old fashioned kids’ kind. I love the big box of Crayolas.

Although I am not naturally gifted at drawing, I get really focused and quiet when I draw and color something simple. When I drew and colored my plant “Basie” late one night, I noticed she had the cutest face on one of her leaves—two eyes and a big smile. When my husband woke the next morning, I told him he had to see this. But the face was gone! Maybe Basie was smiling posing for the picture. I’ve read a couple books on plant spirits. The shamans say plants and trees are here to help us if we’d only ask politely.

I wrote a couple novels under a different name. They’re sort of urban fairy tales. I definitely went into solid Alpha Brain Wave states writing them, if not full-blown Theta.

When I’d finish that day’s writing and take a walk afterwards, I’d put on my iPod and be lost for an hour or two imagining what would happen next in the fantasy world I created. That was super enjoyable and made me dreamy.

I asked my husband when he’s seen me relax. He reminded me of a period when I’d spend hours every day arranging and gluing little pictures I’d cut out of magazines onto paper, trying to make beautiful designs.

What I notice about these things which quiet me down, make me feel good or peaceful or relaxed, is that they are activities in which I focus on something in the here and now, engage in some activity enjoyable in and of itself.

What works for you?

Here is Basie (pronounced BAY-zee). She is a basil plant. Her favorite song is “Corner Pocket” by Count Basie. When I play it for her, I see her dancing out of the corner of my eye—but if I look directly at her, she stops due to shyness. She loves to soak up the sun and enjoys frequent misting. She’s very loving, kind and perceptive. Even though she is tiny, she’s very strong. I sometimes sing “Bicycle Built for Two” to her, substituting “Basie” for “Daisy”.

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