I accept myself as lovable, I see myself as lovable. I easily give love to others, I easily accept the love that others have for me. I am completely and utterly lovable. I release any old beliefs which do not serve me.
My journey towards healing comprised of several modalities often done simultaneously, eventually resulting in an emotional shift. The healing is not over, however. It is on going. Thankfully, the intense grief, anger and sadness have dissipated, and I am certainly in a more accepting and stable state than the months post-divorce.
1. Singing qasaaid: During the midst of my divorce, I regularly attended a weekly recital of Qasidah Al Burdah (The Poem of the Cloak). Singing at full volume had a powerful healing effect on me. Studies have shown that singing releases endorphins in the body and lowers cortisol, the stress hormone. There were certain verses where I had to stop singing because I would just weep. O my Lord, let not my hopes in You be cast back unfulfilled, Nor let my firm conviction (of Your Goodness) be thrown into disarray. Be kind to Your servant, both in this world and the Next, For his patience, when called upon by dreadful fears, just disappears.
2. Self-compassion work. This was a completely new concept to me because we had never been taught the significance of this. I, like thousands out there, am guilty of being my worst and most harshest critic, and espouse self-limiting beliefs. My introduction to the concept was via Dr Kristen Neff, and I eventually found a self-love meditation on YouTube that was exactly what I needed to hear. I went to sleep every night for several months, listening to that meditation. I put a daily 11am and 7pm reminder on my phone- I am Enough. When I glance at it I say internally, “Yes I am.” I am becoming more comfortable saying these kinds of words to myself, and believe this work is essential and ongoing.
3. Yoga: I try to do yoga at least twice a week. If I am heavy, tense, agitated, weak or experiencing any of the low frequency emotions, at the end of a 30 min sequence I feel energised, stronger, and capable. The energy shifts and I switch from being heavy to being lighter with energetic current running through me. That’s the power of breath and conscious movement. I cannot stress enough the importance of breath work in shifting emotions and even state of mind. I do yoga facing a large mirror. When I’m in the warrior pose, I look at myself and think, “Yes, I am a warrior, I am strong, I am capable.” Even a 20 minute sequence makes a world of difference to my state.
4. Hiking: being outside on a gorgeous, early morning with the backdrop of the august mountains and surrounded by lush green has a tremendously healing effect on the body. The air is crisp and clean, and the silence is always much welcomed. “Think mountains, waterfalls, and beaches. Once they reach our bloodstream, negative ions are believed to produce biochemical reactions that increase levels of the mood chemical serotonin, helping to alleviate depression, relieve stress, and boost our daytime energy.” (Webmd.com) Being outside in nature is also an opportunity to connect spiritually, being in a state of dhikr, being awe-struck by God’s dazzling creation. The strength and gratitude one feels when reaching a summit of a hike is akin overcoming the challenges life throws at us.
5. Gratitude: research has shown that gratitude has a more powerful impact on altering the structure of the brain than even meditation (so I learnt from a TedTalk). Every day I would write down ten things that I was grateful for that day. Some days I had more than ten. Some days I didn’t feel like saying much. They were sometimes seemingly silly things, but this exercise did help me to train my perception to keep an eye out for good things in the day to jot down in my journal that evening.
6. Therapy: I initially had approximately ten sessions of CBT. This enabled me to be aware of my erroneous thought patterns (catastrophising, mind reading, disqualifying the positive, black and white thinking etc), but I found the therapist cold and clinical, and devoid of any empathy. I felt anxious when I had to see her, which was evidently not a good sign. I also had a couple of sessions of Brain Recursive Therapy to tackle two traumatising memories I had. Apart from that, I have not found a therapist who has been very beneficial to me, as I believe I gain so much from my spiritually sophisticated and wise friends.
7. TRE: Trauma Releasing Exercises is a series of exercises that assist the body in releasing deep muscular patterns of stress, tension and trauma. The exercises safely activate a natural reflex mechanism of shaking or vibrating that releases muscular tension, calming down the nervous system. (traumaprevention.com). I would do TRE after a yoga session, and whilst doing them I’d play a self- love meditation on Youtube, while I would tremor for 15-20 minutes. This was well- spent time dedicated to myself.
8. Dancing: I have always enjoyed dancing and this side of my femininity took a backseat during my marriage, since my ex-husband never appreciated it. Nurturing my love for dance has been extremely therapeutic. Apart from being great cardio exercise, it enabled me to build confidence and feel attractive again. Flashback to my CBT sessions: before the sessions they made me fill out an evaluation, including dreaded questions such as How attractive did you feel this week on a scale of 1-10? Zero. It was always zero. Dancing made me feel alive and beautiful again.
Being a human being, I still have very low days sometimes, but at least I am self-aware and try my best to manage my melancholia. I might have to force myself to go for a walk, get on my yoga mat, or do dhikr. And most importantly, you need to have a good friend you can call whenever. I am so very blessed to have this friend in my life, an enormous blessing for which I frequently express gratitude.