That mind-body thing

  1. Home
  2. /
  3. Journal
  4. /
  5. Thoughts
  6. /
  7. That mind-body thing

I’m just in the process of recovering from what appears to be a nasty virus. To the best of my knowledge I haven’t had Covid, but all the symptoms of whatever-this-is seem very much like Long Covid – tiredness, insomnia, aches and pains, terrible brain fog, etc.

I’m someone who suffers from occasional depressive episodes. This is fortunately mild for me, and only every so often – and I’ve found mindfulness and meditation hugely helpful in allowing me to focus in useful ways through these periods.

But this time around it has been the physical manifestation of fatigue arriving at the same time as the mental slump which has really floored me. At times I’ve found it hugely disorientating to be in a place where I have little to no energy to do what I need to do, and this has been a sort of negative cyclical reinforcement to the mental side of things.

What’s been interesting to me is how much this period of time has made me think really hard about the deep connections between mind and body. This is exactly what we are trained to focus on during our MBSR sessions – in fact if there is one thing that MBSR is about, it is this – that intimate, deep, powerful connection that exists between feelings in the body and feelings in the mind. As a practitioner of this stuff, this should be obvious to me – but I have found this time to be incredibly useful in helping me to focus properly on the reality of these feelings. My practice has at times felt like a chore – for the first time in years – but I have forced myself to stick with it and am now beginning to emerge, feeling stronger and a bit more connected to the reality of what many people go through on a daily basis with long term illness and other acute conditions.

We have seasons when we flourish and seasons when the leaves fall from us, revealing our bare bones. Given time, they grow again.

Katherine May, Wintering

The other aspect of this which has been brought into sharp focus for me has been how incredibly important it is to seek out times of rest and nourishment, to accept that sometimes we simply can’t do all the things we normally do – and to be kind, careful and compassionate with ourselves during these periods. My wife produced a copy of a book she read a while back called Wintering and I’ve found the gentle investigation of what it means to “winter” to be very helpful as I’ve sat there feeling a little too sorry for myself at times. Being ok with being not ok is alright – there are periods of flourishing and periods when we need to hunker down and gather our strengths. Embracing both is part of the rich cycle of our lives.