— Life —

WHAT WE SAY TO OURSELVES MATTERS

Photograph by Brenda Coffee
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Like most of us I’ve faced a lot of tough times in my life. I’ve given up my power and my voice more than once. I loved a man I should have left—he almost killed me—but instead of learning from my mistake, I did it again. I loved another man I should have left sooner. And just when I thought I’d let go of the toxic patterns I seemed destined to repeat, I was taken, at gunpoint, in Guatemala.  

There are some things you think you’ll never survive, and when you do, you’re certain you’ll never heal, but I’m here to tell you that’s not true. 

For years spiritual gurus have told us “what we say to ourselves matters.” That meditating can help rid ourselves of things that don’t serve us well and put us in touch with the person we want to become, but how many of us believe this? How many of us have actually shut out the world and meditated by focusing on our breathing? And for those who’ve tried it, how many meditated on your breath the next day and the next, and the day after that, and how many are still doing it? In the process of writing my memoir, I’ve been reminded of how many times I’ve come to my own rescue because I learned to control my breathing, and that what I say to myself matters. 

Breathwork and meditation have been the catalysts for peace and calm and transformation that have brought many good things into my life. We are as powerful, as brave, and as capable as we believe ourselves to be, but this belief starts with listening to our little voice and giving ourselves what we need. 

Recognizing our worth and changing the path we’re on can start with something as simple as getting still for 10 minutes a day. 

If we don’t then we’re like the houseplant that’s not often watered. It’s alive, but it’s not thriving. Its leaves become limp and turn yellow. 

Every morning I take a break and listen to a 10-minute meditation on the free Calm App on my phone. It helps me focus on nothing but my breathing. If you’ve tried it, then you know it’s harder than it sounds. When my mind drifts, Tamara Levitt, author and mindfulness instructor, reminds me to bring my thoughts back to my inhale and exhale and the little moments in-between. Mindful meditation, or breathwork, helps calm our nervous system. It gets us grounded and centered, and allows us to resume our day with a different perspective. Meditating on our breath breaks the repetitive cycle of negative emotions and self-talk and gives us the opportunity to reset to zero. Will it solve all of our problems? No, but the daily practice of centering ourselves is cumulative. It makes a difference.

I hope no one has to go through terrifying journeys like I have to realize they are their own water and sunshine, but when you “get it,” it changes the lens through which you see yourself and the world around you. Never again will we say, “if only he hadn’t,” “if only that hadn’t happened.” Breathwork and meditation helps us become our single biggest ally, friend and cheerleader, and our path becomes clearer. 

Everything we do is shaped by our beliefs and how we feel about ourselves. What we say to ourselves matters. Who would we become if we honored our needs? We have the power to change our lives and ultimately our place in the world, but like the plant that’s ignored, if we don’t get in touch with our inner self, it’s a safe bet we’re not going to get watered.

Love, Brenda

29 Comments

  • Reply Josephine August 14, 2021 at 7:04 am

    Meditation is amazing. I use Headspace and meditate for 20 minutes most mornings. I think I have over 9,000 hours on my meditation clock. My husband took it up about 3 yrs ago as well. It had helped me to keep calm during some challenging situations. I could not be without it.

    • Reply 1010ParkPlace August 16, 2021 at 1:05 pm

      Josephine, Thanks for reconfirming the benefits of meditation. Nine thousand hours? Amazing!! Like you, I could not be without practicing meditation. xoxox, Brenda

  • Reply Gail August 14, 2021 at 7:18 am

    Thank you!
    My journey is catching up but I’m positive I’ll be “right on tome”!

    • Reply 1010ParkPlace August 16, 2021 at 1:06 pm

      We’re all catching up, Gail! xoxox, Brenda

  • Reply Joan Tamburini August 14, 2021 at 8:08 am

    Thank you for this and I am sorry about your past pain! It is truly liberating when the light “goes on” and we begin to discover that self compassion is the key to living a full, authentic and purposeful life. I love reading your blog!

    • Reply 1010ParkPlace August 16, 2021 at 1:07 pm

      Thank you, Joan! I like knowing you love reading my blog. Means the world to me, because you’re why I write. Why is it so difficult for that light to come on? I know women, like my mother, who never got it. xoxox, Brenda

  • Reply Barb August 14, 2021 at 8:22 am

    I used to meditate for years and then I stopped because I thought I didn’t need it anymore but Covid has changed everything. Thank you for reminding me I need to take it up again. Josephine said she does 20 minutes but I think I’d prefer the 10 minute one you do. I’ll try it. You always know what I need.

    • Reply 1010ParkPlace August 16, 2021 at 1:09 pm

      LOL! Barb, you remind me of myself. I’ve started a meditation practice only to stop because I didn’t think I needed it. Josephine confirmed for all of us that meditation is as important to our longterm health as flossing our teeth. xoxox, Brenda

  • Reply Lee August 14, 2021 at 8:36 am

    For me, meditation is the inner island to which we can retreat to incrementally strip away the lifelong accumulation of daily debris in our mind and heart. When we center ourselves and focus on anything from a point of light to a chosen ideal, the breath will naturally slow and become so shallow as to imperceptibly cease. It is here we find our real selves and our connection to others. The sense of I-ness has left the building. Meditation can transform your life or, at the very least, help to cope calmly with the debris and heal over our scars so we no longer pick at them.

    • Reply 1010ParkPlace August 16, 2021 at 1:12 pm

      If this is the Lee I think it is, I would kiss the ground you walk on if you would start writing for 1010ParkPlace. I love everything about your comment, especially “The sense of I-ness has left the building.” xoxox, Brenda

  • Reply Leigh August 14, 2021 at 9:04 am

    I love your phrase,”you are your sunshine and water”. Such good advice and helpful advice in this blog. Thank you! Take care

    • Reply 1010ParkPlace August 16, 2021 at 1:21 pm

      I’m happy you liked this, Leigh. Thanks for letting me know. xoxox, Brenda

  • Reply Anissa August 14, 2021 at 11:14 am

    Brenda,

    You are always so on point. Such perfect advice for a time when the world is so full of anxiety. Unfortunately, I know pain all too well. I lost my 19 year old son to suicide 7 years ago. At that time, I was dropped not to my knees, but flat on my face. I remember thinking how will I ever survive this? How will our family survive this? It has been a long, long road, but I made up my mind that I would keep going and try to thrive for myself and for my younger daughter. You truly have to make your mind up to survive. And I know that little voice. It wants to tell me to be sad, what’s the point, I don’t matter, but I have to fight it with thoughts of gratitude, meditation, walks, the simplicity of nature and just taking it moment my moment. I have learned so much about suicide, mental health and the power of the mind. And, I had a lot of help with therapy, my husband and daughter, and a few close friends. I’m here to tell everyone that you can survive the unimaginable, but the first step is deciding that you will survive. Is it easy, no. Does it every go away, no. Do I wish that this never happened and I could go back to life like it was, hell yes! But, for whatever reason this is my journey and I have decided to own it and use the tools that I have picked up along the way to persevere and find joy again. One of the first things I learned in therapy is that you have to go through it to get to the other side.

    Thank you for sharing and helping me realize that many of us have faced such tragedies and devastations. Believe it or not, your blog and a few others have brought me strength and courage on some very lonely and dark days.

    • Reply 1010ParkPlace August 16, 2021 at 2:15 pm

      Anissa, I can’t imagine losing a child to suicide. It pales in comparison to some of the things I’ve experienced. We’ve both learned we must “go through it to get to the other side.” It’s such an anguishing concept at the time though, isn’t it, especially sine we wanted to skip that part and go straight to being healed of this terrible thing. “You have to truly make your mind up to survive.” So true and yet so impossibly difficult because every day that determination to survive is ripped away from us, and we find ourselves mired in our pain and grief, which is on the other side of the universe, light years away from healing. Thank you for leaving your heartfelt comment. You’ve reminded me of why I write this blog: I’m in hopes of making a positive difference in someone’s life, and with your comment, you’ve done that for me and everyone who reads this. Blessings Anissa. My best to you. Love, Brenda

      • Reply Joyce Smith September 23, 2021 at 8:27 am

        I want to follow you. Your writing is amazing

  • Reply Colleen A Fuller August 14, 2021 at 11:15 am

    Part of my life is decided by completely uncontrollable circumstances. The vast majority of my life is controlled by my response to those circumstances. There are many effective methods to stop our negative inner voice. Thank you Brenda for telling us about your meditation methods.

    • Reply 1010ParkPlace August 16, 2021 at 2:18 pm

      So perceptive, Colleen. Thank you. My late husband, James, once told me I wasn’t as “in control” of things as I thought I was. It was one of the best things he could have said to me… this Type A person… because he’s right. You’re right. Thank you. xoxox, Brenda

  • Reply Colleen August 14, 2021 at 11:18 am

    Part of my life is decided by completely uncontrollable circumstances. The vast majority of my life is controlled by my response to those circumstances. There are many effective methods to stop our negative inner voice. Thank you Brenda for telling us about your meditation methods.

  • Reply Joan August 14, 2021 at 11:37 am

    Thank you, Brenda, for this reminder. I had a good meditation after reading this after having not meditated for several months.
    I experienced memories of childhood floating on a warm lake with sunshine and warm breezes and felt happiness. Something I need today
    with a birthday lunch at a restaurant with husband’s relatives later. (smiley face).

    • Reply 1010ParkPlace August 16, 2021 at 2:21 pm

      Joan, What a radiant, positive image. Yes. Keep smiling. I’m happy this post helped you, today. xoxox, Brenda

  • Reply Hilda Smith August 15, 2021 at 3:47 am

    Brenda I am not great at meditating, but you know what I am going to give it another go after reading this. I do find yoga helps and there is always a few minutes of calm and breathing at the end of each session. Love your blog. Such wonderful advice too.

    • Reply 1010ParkPlace August 16, 2021 at 2:24 pm

      Hilda! Hello sweet lady! I’m always happy to see you here. You’re not the only one. Developing a meditation practice is really hard. I think that’s why I like the 10-minute meditation on the Calm App. They also have great “sleep stories” to listen to at the end of the day. I’m so grateful you love my blog. I love yours as well. xoxox, Brenda

  • Reply Diane August 15, 2021 at 9:54 am

    You are such an example to me, Brenda!
    I love meditation! My daily meditation consists of “Be Still and know that I am God”. I look on it as my firm foundation for my day. If I build upon that, I feel I have a far better chance of having a successful day. Or at least a less ‘tippy’ one!

    • Reply 1010ParkPlace August 16, 2021 at 2:27 pm

      Thank you, Diane, for your sweet comment. I appreciate you so very much and am always happy when I see a comment from you. “Be still and know that I am God.” Perfect! His is the original meditation. xoxox, Brenda

  • Reply Alana August 15, 2021 at 10:52 am

    I have never gotten into meditation, but in the past year, I developed a on-again, off again condition that is very uncomfortable when it flared, and I found that a controlled breathing helped when the discomfort started to spiral out of control. I have a meditation app included in my Weight Watchers app (may be Calm; not sure but it may be similar) and I am going to check it out so I can do this regularly.

    • Reply 1010ParkPlace August 16, 2021 at 2:32 pm

      Alana, I’ve used controlled breathing even before I started meditating. I learned it from a Dr. Andrew Weil book: Inhale four counts. Hold for seven counts. Exhale for eight counts. When the floppy valve in my heart starts acting up, this breathing exercise usually helps “calm” it back down. Somewhere along the line I learned to put one hand above my belly button and the other hand below the belly button when I do it. It’s long since been a habit when I breathe this way, which is also every night as I gear down to go to sleep. I may do anywhere from three to eight rounds of breathing this way. Until my monkey mind stops chattering. xoxox, Brenda

  • Reply Mithra Ballesteros August 16, 2021 at 8:36 am

    A beautiful ideal that we are our own sunshine and water. Keep reaching towards the sun, Brenda! Your petals grow more lovely by the day.

    • Reply 1010ParkPlace August 16, 2021 at 2:33 pm

      Awe! So sweet, Mithra! How come all the women I love live so far away? xoxox, Brenda

  • Reply Jeannette August 21, 2021 at 10:51 am

    Didn’t comment on the day I read this because I was stunned to read this post I needed so very much at this time. I’ve been thinking/talking about starting to meditate for years now. What am I waiting for….I’ve decided I’m going to do it. However I’ve been doing the controlled breathing by Dr. Weil for many years. I’m just not consistent. When I was still working this deep breathing was the only thing that helped me relax and go to sleep. I still use it in hectic/stressful times I want to make it part of my every day. Thanks again for this post Brenda. Take care

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