Written by Mariah R. @worldsoulll - Co-founder of Mental Maintenance
Question: How can you bring your garden back to life?
This was a question that came to me at the beginning of the year , when I was desperately trying to understand why I was growing in every way except that which I had intended to. I noticed how I have this acute awareness, or this hypervigilance rather. It made me so aware of the potential dangers around me that could taint my soil or harm me in any way that I had become neglectful to myself completely. I feel like this is a common problem especially for those who were conditioned to move in survival mode to protect themselves. We spend our time utilizing this gift of awareness to navigate the darkness of the world, but if we were to turn this awareness inward we would be able to stand tall as a pillar of light in any dark room. I, myself, was just way too traumatized to see that. It wasn't until I was able to arrive into a space that was conducive for me to put down my armor and LIVE, that I saw how detrimental living in this state of hypervigilance was. I was constantly reliving this anxiety that came from unfavorable situations, past memories, and unhealthy environments. I wanted to live but somehow my mind kept restricting me. I’d grown tired, and I figured if I was put on this earth to navigate this human experience, I couldn't go through it not living. I couldn't go through it not having full control over my own sovereignty. I’d been dwelling in a garden that I didn't know the intricacies of. I didn't know what it took to make my ground fertile again, or if I could continue living off of the fruits I'd been bearing. All I knew was that whatever I had been doing was no longer working. And it was time to study the internal canvas of ME.
As we’re navigating this stressful life we develop self soothing habits so that we can ease the anxieties of everyday life. Sometimes these habits are good, other times not so much - but they work. And well, I'd come to a point where they no longer worked for me. I decided to take a deep look at myself and study myself. If these habits were no longer serving me I had to dig deeper in order to pull them out from the root of my garden and plant something more fruitful in place. That meant asking:
When did these habits start serving me?
Why did I take on these habits?
Are these habits innate or conditioned? Conditioned by who, by what?
How do they make me feel now?
It was questions like this that helped me, and that didnt mean I was automatically cured the moment I found the answers. In fact, the answers only made me harder on myself. It was like although I knew better, I was so used to soothing myself in ways that served me in the past - so I couldn't do better. (for ex: self isolating when I need communal comfort) But there's a point in the soil searching journey where you must choose love over comfort. Our minds will convince us that “this is just the way we are” or get us to think the power to change is outside of us instead of within. My comfort zone was not so comfortable, so I decided to bring my awareness all the way inward and initiate this change. Being that the long term effects of hypervigilance are increased risk of high blood pressure (hypertension), clogged arteries, heart attacks, and even memory loss I knew this stress and anxiety was turning into a slow and silent killer, and I would not be its next victim.
So, I asked myself, yet again, how can you bring your garden back to life?
We have to create new pathways for ourselves so this stress can easily pass through and not sit in our bodies causing dis-ease. Think of your mind like a ski slope. We are more naturally inclined to do the things we always do when stress, anxiety, and trauma arises. Some smoke, some drink, some eat, some just choose to ignore it completely. However, when that's no longer working and you come to the realization that your self soothing is the opposite of what you need, you begin to create a new ridge in the snow. You no longer want to ski down the same path. Though it was once the easiest way to go, now the branches are poking through the snow, now you have to duck and dive. This path that was once so familiar and easy has become uncomfortable, so a new way must be made. We have to keep getting on the top of that slope and forging a new way! And yes, it's easier said than done. You've spent so many years of your life traveling down that old ridge, so it’s inevitable that you might fall into its tracks from time to time. But that's just a sign that you are trying, and the more you practice the more you'll find yourself resuscitating your garden back to life with newer, healthier habits.