I’m trying to practice my daily gratitude.
It’s been part of my evening routine for a while now, but I’ve let it slip with everything that’s been going on.
And I really need this.
This talk was given at a local TEDx event, produced independently of the TED Conferences.
Hailey Bartholomew found the secret to happiness. After struggling to enjoy and appreciate all of the great things in her life she set our on a year long photography project to find gratitude everyday. In this funny and moving talk see what lessons we can all learn from her experience.
Hailey can lay claim to the titles of photographer, author, director, social commentator and artist. The owner and creative director of her own business, she has clients than span the globe as a photographer and as a director. She has published two books so far in her career, and directed television commercials and visual presentations for major national brands and charities.
But within this eclectic, and brilliant appetite for creative realization, Hailey’s favored passion is documentary film making.
Hailey has a beautiful visual style and sensitivity with her subjects, perfect for allowing a story to evolve and flourish on film and in photographs. Hailey will be joining TEDxQUT to share her experiences with the transformative power of gratitude and the 365 grateful project.
Try the 10 day exercise suggested in this video.
Every evening, take out your bullet journal, or open a new file on your phone or computer, and scan through your day.
Figure out what you’re grateful for, and write about it. A line, a paragraph, a page.
Record your daily gratitude.
You really do find what you are looking for.
Yesterday started off bad. I woke up in darkness, at 5am, from anxiety dreams. Then my Brain insisted on replaying every single sexual assault I’ve ever experienced, in High Definition visuals and sound.
So that’s not fun.
How do I cope with that? Well, it feels very dark to me, when it happens. I used to (years ago) try to run away from that. Find the light. Try and make it so the darkness doesn’t exist and I don’t have to live there.
But you know what?
These things are dark. There are dark things in my past. Also, dark things in my present, and most likely my future. Because we don’t live just in the light. We need the darkness too. In part, we are the darkness.
So, I went into the darkness, and learned to be comfortable there. Yes, I’m talking metaphorically, to an extent, but also quite literally. In that I cope with these things through Meditation.
Ye know that’s not just some woo weirdness that hippies and mystics are into, right? It’s a really valuable, effective, and vital part of any mental health management programme. Ask any modern psychologist or therapist. They’ll tell ya.
Yesterday morning, from 5.30am to 6.30am or so, I meditated. By that time, I was calm and relaxed and I was able to drop back off into a doze until the alarm went off as usual at 8am.
At that point, I will admit, I made sure Jon was awake so I could have a wee cuddle and feel safe in that. And that’s ok too.
Today, I was working on stuff for my other side project, www.Guided-Meditation-Journeys.com, and I recorded a meditation featuring darkness, which feels appropriate to share. It is the basis of the ‘learning to be ok in darkness’ element of my Journeying practice, and my own technique of guided meditation journeying has developed from it.
You can listen to the Darkness Meditation Here…
Be well, and I hope you have balance today.
So I practice at least a simple meditation technique every day.
Or at least, I try to. It can be anything from a 20-30 minute Guided Journey, down to one single minute of focused mindful breathing.
A lot of the work I do, both personally spiritual and professional, is about Guided Meditation, or rather, Guided Journeys. If you’re not familiar, meditation is an umbrella term for any number of techniques or mental/physical exercises which you might engage in (like concentration on your breathing or repeating an affirmation, or a mantra).
We do this for so many reasons, from the quest to achieve a heightened level of spiritual awareness, to calming anxiety and stress, to a desire for awareness and self regulation. A guided meditation is when someone takes you through a meditation with the sound of their voice and the ‘script’ they have prepared. Not all meditations are guided.
A Guided Journey is all of the above, but specifically the guide is bringing you to a certain time or place in the spiritual realms, or your own interior landscape, usually for a particular purpose, and then bringing you back again safely. That last one is the bit most Guided Journeys fail on, by the by.
I have a multitude of guided meditations and guided journeys that I have recorded – you can check some of that out at www.Guided-Meditation-Journeys.com. I’m in the process of setting up a whole system of Guided Meditation and Journeying in the Irish Otherworld there, in fact, through 3 different levels… but you know what’s weird? Listening to the sound of your own voice.
Yeah. So even though I have exactly what’s best for me right at my fingertips, I can’t really use my own stuff, except on specific ritual occasions sometimes.
Now, the other problem that comes along with this is, I’ve been Journeying for over 20 years, and I know what’s safe, what’s good practice, and what is shit and scary and no way stay the fuck out of my mental brainspace with that nonsense please and thank you.
That last category is the biggest by far.
So. Many. Scammers. Cashing. In.
The upshot of all this is that I have literally 2 things I can use for my own meditation practice. I mean, there might be more, but these 2 work for me so I’m sticking with them.
Firstly, for long form healing Journeys, my friend Izzy Swanson is amazing, and her work is particularly suited to my trauma healing. You can find her, and her Guided Journeys, on Patreon here – https://www.patreon.com/izzyswanson. I know her work is safe.
I do those Journeys as often as I can (they run deep, and I’m in a somewhat changing place with my own healing right now, so I have to be a bit careful about cracking myself open).
But for the everyday, I use an app on my phone called Calm. There’s a daily guided meditation that takes about 5 minutes, as well as a whole range of other stuff like topical meditations, sleep stories, and even wellness classes.
Your woman’s voice that does the dailies is quite pleasant, and there’s a different little inspirational bit included at the end which is sometimes – yeah whatever cool story – but sometimes strikes me quite deeply and leaves me thoughtful for the day.
And they show a little calendar at the end of your session to track how many times you use it, and your current ‘streak’, ie how many days in a row you’ve done the daily meditation.
So. That’s all grand.
I’d a good little streak going, like, 8 days? I mentioned that I struggle with self care and consistently doing the things I know are good for me, right? And then for some reason yesterday, I didn’t.
Then last night, I had TERRIBLE anxiety dreams, a really broken sleep, and woke up at 6am freaking out and cortisol spiked through the roof.
A little background – I lived for a very long time in a ‘fight, flight, freeze’ state, and my system got very used to that over the years. A lot of my current work is trying to unpack that and figure out a new baseline ‘normal’ for myself. We’ll get more into all this as we go I’m sure. I’m nothing if not an over-sharer.
I suffered for a long time both from an inability to get to sleep, but even more so (because sheer exhaustion often took over and knocked me out) from that whole shit show of waking from severe anxiety dreams at 2 or 3am and being unable to get back to sleep coz your brain and body think you’re in imminent life threatening danger.
I take a strong dose anti-anxiety medication every night to try and stop this, and it usually works out fine. I’m sleeping better than I ever did, but… how much of that is due to the meditation?
Like, a lot goes into this healing lark. There’s a lot of strands to unpick here, and reweave into something that has brighter colours and a less blurry pattern. It’s a constant process, and probably no one thing is ever going to be a magic bullet cure for it all and suddenly I’m ‘better’.
It’s interesting though, that there’s a correlation between stopping the daily calm practice, and getting a dose of decidedly not calm that very night. Right?
One to watch anyway.
Be well, and we’ll chat more next time.