Confessions of a "Zen Mom"
If you've been following along this journey of Heal & Rise, you've likely seen videos of me practicing yoga with the kids or meditating peacefully. Images of a serene Ashley guiding energy healing meditation or writing chapters filled with inspiration grace the pages of my social media. A friend recently commented, "I just love what you share! You're just so zen!"
But here's the truth...
I'm really not.
Secret's out! I'm the woman replaying that conversation in her head because she felt like she said the wrong thing. The mom who nearly morphed into the cartoon version of that character with steam rolling out of their ears because at the height of over-stimulation and she heard "MOM MOM MOM!" hollered one too many times. The friend who still struggles to share her feelings for fear she may offend another's. The human who feels "too deeply" and whose emotions are "too much"(according to some).
Let me share a little story. Only a matter of years ago I was barely keeping it together due to my severe anxiety. On top of the pressures for a young adult to figure out her life path, a previous relationship had included mental, emotional, and sexual abuse. This, combined with harassment after getting out left me with what I know now (but did not at the time) to be post-traumatic stress disorder.
Even years after being in a completely safe space of body, mind, and spirit, I still struggled with episodes of high anxiety. I might have seemed completely calm and smiling from the outside while feeling the tension and heart-wrenching fear rising within. Other times a seemingly minor event would launch me into a full-blown anxiety attack, complete with hyperventilating hysterics. It was terrifying and led to even more distrust and sense of disconnection with my body.
So I did what we were taught to do, and sought medical attention. This medical attention led to prescriptions for anxiety that did work to calm my nerves, but also made me feel so out of touch with my true self. I felt even more disconnected and confused as to who I was and why I was here. I knew there had to be another way.
Over time, I weened myself off these medications I'd grown to both feel reliant on and simultaneously despise. It was then that the truth of what I needed most rose uncomfortably to the surface. I'd yet to face not only the unhealthy experience I'd journeyed through. But more importantly, I'd yet to examine the beliefs about myself that allowed me to get there in the first place.
I didn't need a medical band-aid. Didn't need to only have my mental health addressed. And I definitely didn't need to just toughen up and try to forget it.
I needed healing.
So off I dove even deeper into a world that I'd already felt the spark of interest toward... holistic healing and wellness. I knew there had to be another way. Something that our modern day society overlooks in favor of what we believe to be easier or faster. I became fascinated with what was rapidly drawing me in, the practice of inner healing through energy work, intuitive guidance, herbal remedies, mindfulness, yoga, and meditation.
Too often we think of healing as something that happens physically. When we can see a wound (or a cast or brace) it gives us the visual of what's going on underneath. Yet the majority of healing we undertake in our lives is internal... occurring deep within our heart, mind, and soul. This healing and balance of wellness requires constant practice, which is why we often refer to the ancient art of yoga or meditation as our "practice". We are continuously and intentionally choosing to show up for ourselves, making decisions that support our highest good and the good of all around us.
The development and layers of this practice wasn't a magical and instant fix-all. I've had to refocus and deepen it when anxiety rose during my first pregnancy, during postpartum depression, marriage challenges, friendship hurdles, and times of transition. But the most fascinating thing about this type of inner healing? You gain a more thorough understanding of your own workings and learn the things you need most in order to stay balanced, as well as how to more quickly bounce back should you fall off kilter (as we all do).
Over the past week with my first baby going off to kindergarten, rebalancing my time and priorities, an argument with my husband, and our cherished family friend who has been nannying for us nearing her departure overseas... I was about as far from zen as a woman could get! And that's okay... for I knew what do to.
Those who support the healing, empowerment, and peacefulness of others do not do so out of an egocentric belief that they have it all figured out. None of us truly do.
It is a beautiful art of human connection to use what you've learned in the trenches to turn around and help someone else out of them.
I do not share inspiring messages or moments of peacefulness because that is all my life contains. (Ha! Have you ever been around a toddler and five year old?) Instead, I share them because there have been times these practices and messages are all that kept me here and alive on this earth. Don't let that Instagram highlight reel fool ya, I'm far from "Zen"... which is why I'm dedicated to intentionally creating these feelings of peaceful calm within myself, my children, and YOU.