Notes and Mentions
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Serena: Hey Everyone, I’m Serena.
Tina: And I’m Tina and we are the Mental Health Mamas.
Serena: Welcome to No Need to Explain, we are so glad you’re here.
Tina: First, as always, a quick disclaimer.
Serena: We come to you NOT as mental health professionals or experts in the field, but rather as the parents of kids who struggle with their emotional health.
Tina: If you or someone you love is experiencing a mental health crisis, please seek professional support. You’ll find a variety of resources in our show notes and on our website, NoNeedToExplainPodcast.com.
Tina: Today we welcome a guest, a fellow mama in mental health, Emilie Rawlings.
Serena: Emilie has written a book called Foundation: Love, Mindfulness, Meditation. Emilie, like us, is from Upstate New York, lives with her high school sweetheart of 32 years and her two adorable dogs. She is a mama and among other things is a dancer, veteran fitness instructor, reader, writer and seeker of truth and spirituality. Welcome Emilie!
Emilie: Thanks so much for having me, Serena and Tina. I love what you’re doing here, and I am honored to be a part of it. I am very excited to talk with you and your listeners. So I would like to say, “Hello to the awesome Mental Health Mamas listeners out there!”
Tina: So Emilie and I, full disclosure, know each other in various small town like ways and most notably, you were the fitness instructor for one of the killer classes I took at a local gym. And each time I saw you, you had a smile on your face, and had boundless energy and seemed to have it all together. Having connected with you recently and further, reading your new book Foundation, it occurs to me that what I was observing was perhaps not the whole story. I wonder if you could give us a glimpse into how you were really feeling behind that smile and boundless energy?
Emilie: Sure. Yeah. That’s a great observation. Here’s the deal. My smile was real and my energy was real. The real issue for me was, it was just not sustainable. I had not found a way to care for myself in a consistent way. At that point I had undiagnosed Generalized Anxiety Disorder, and also OCD of persistent negative thoughts. I did have my happy moments (as you have observed), but I had no awareness of how much anxiety I was experiencing on a daily basis, and I definitely had no self-care protocols. All of this combined to create a situation that was just unsustainable for me. That is why, in the fall of 2016, I found myself in the midst of a breakdown. My body and my brain shut down. I was unable to get out of bed, I couldn’t recall things and I wasn’t able to speak in full sentences. I was terrified and I had reached a crisis point. This is when everything changed for me.
Serena: Hmm. Yeah, that’s a lot. So we’re gonna come back to your story in just a moment. But first, we love the name of your new book in that it’s a concept we think about a whole lot. Foundation. The idea that parents being the foundation, literally, of their whole family, right? We hold a lot as parents and we know that being the holder of all the things can be pretty hard and specifically difficult to find that time to strengthen your own foundation or as we like to say, filling your cup. So you have a beautiful image of a vessel in the book. Could you tell our listeners a bit of that story?
Emilie: Oh, yes, I’d love to. After my breakdown in the fall of 2016, I made a decision to commit 2017 to getting healthy, in every way that I possibly could. And for me, this took on the form of meditation. Since I couldn’t get out of bed, it seemed like a natural thing for me to try and do. I always thought meditation was beneficial, but I had never set aside the time to do it, and now ironically I had all the time in the world. I decided to seize the opportunity. As I would meditate I sometimes would see images. I share several of those images in my book. One of those images was what you’re referring to, the image of the vessel. I knew that the vessel was me. I saw the vessel filling itself with water from a stream, and then pouring that water into other waiting vessels. The vessel kept going, even when cracks started to appear. It kept going even when holes opened up. It kept going until it shattered into a million pieces. And I felt like that was what was happening to me. After I saw this vision of the cracked vessel play out, I knew I had to make a change. I needed to make sure that I was whole and strong first before I tried to fill other vessels with water. That was the only way I could truly be there for others. This was the point at which I realized that I must make self-care, I also call it self-love, the top priority of my life from then on. I also knew I was not the only one. I had observed this in other care-givers also. So I knew I needed to share this message of uncompromising self-love with as many as I could. So I wrote my book.
Tina: You are so right. There are so many caregivers out there who I’m sure are shaking their heads. You know, important realization and super concrete image for us all. So, as Serena mentioned, we talk a lot about pouring from your cup to fill others and the truth is, you can only pour so much before you run dry. You don’t have anything left. I love the vessel image in that it has the nuances of the cracks and the strains, we love that!
Serena: In your book you talk about some of the real world effects of not taking good care of your own vessel. Tell us a little bit about the importance of practicing self-care or self-love.
Emilie: Yes. Oh, gosh. Self-love to me is everything! It’s the basis of everything. As I have mentioned already, because I didn’t practice self-care I found myself in bed, having completely shut down. And not only was I in despair, I was not able to take care of myself or anyone else. So, what was the point of that? In fact, my husband and my adult children were having to take care of me! I knew something had to change. And that is when I committed 2017 to self-care. And this naturally took on the form of meditation, as I’ve said. Within this framework I came to know the power of the present moment. And in this space I found answers and guidance. And in the quietness of the present moment is where I truly learned about myself and what I actually needed. This was the place where my healing started and where it continued. And this is the place where I came to know my vessel and what I needed to become whole again.
Tina: Yeah. So, tell us how you present this in your book.
Emilie: Yes. In the book I will guide you through the process of present moment awareness, which I call mindfulness. In the book I share that I could never find the time for consistent self-care. And this was based on a belief that I had. The belief was that I didn’t ever have enough time and I wouldn’t ever have enough time to accomplish everything. And I’m sure there’s many out there that can totally relate to that, that there’s way more that we feel like we have to do than we have time for. And not only that, but I believed also that I actually wasn’t worth the time. I’d like to explore this with all of you out there. Because most of us, when asked, would probably say that we know how important self-care is. If somebody had asked me at that time, I would have said, yeah. Yeah, it’s important. And that’s where I was. BUT what matters is not what you are saying, what matters is what you are doing. So my argument is if you are NOT finding the time to practice solid, consistent self-care then you actually do not believe you are worth your time and commitment. And you may find yourself in a similar place as I was in. Your actions are proof of your belief. So I strongly encourage you all to take some time to evaluate your daily schedule and just be honest with yourself. If you are not practicing daily self-care, then see if you can unearth the beliefs that are creating that environment for you. And just be honest with yourself! There’s no getting out of this one. If you don’t address it now, I promise you it will get bigger and bigger until you can’t ignore it, and you get burned out, or you have a breakdown, just like I did.
Serena: Mmm. So, can you walk us through what that daily self-care moment looks like for you?
Emilie: Yes, I’d love to. And this is perfect because this is exactly the premise of my book and why I wrote it with the companion meditations. Because rather than just talking about it, it’s really important to do it and experience it. So let’s do that right now. Does that sound good?
Tina: Sure. Let’s do it. If you are walking or driving, please do NOT do this right now. Skip it. Skip this part of the podcast and do it later! Go ahead Emilie.
Emilie: Yes. Perfect. Perfect. We don’t want, yeah, for sure. Once you are in a safe place and you’re comfortable and you’re sitting, just go ahead and close your eyes and take a deep breath. And Serena and Tina, you can do this with me right now. Take another deep breath. And then just ask yourself this simple question, “Do I believe I am worthy of my time and my attention?” And take another deep breath. And ask it again, “Do I believe I am worthy of my time and attention?” And you can even say that out loud, if you’d like. And take another deep breath and then just see what emerges for you in that space. And if you feel like it, you can ask the question again either in your head or out loud and take another deep breath. And see if anything comes to you. And something may not, and that’s totally ok. This is a no judgment zone. Next, I’ll have you take another deep breath and this time ask yourself, “What is the best way for me to take care of myself?” And take another nice deep breath. Ask yourself again, “What is the best way for me to take care of myself?” Breathe in deeply and if you feel like it you can ask that question again either in your head or out loud. It is very likely that you had something pop into your mind right away. And depending on your level of deservability and the different beliefs that you have currently, you may have dismissed it right away. And I’m going to call you on that because I do the same thing. So take a second to see if you can locate the very first thing that you thought of. The very first little thought that popped into your head and try not to judge it in any way. Try to just see it and look at it. And don’t say things like what I would do, “Oh, it’s silly”, or “it will take too much time,” or “gosh, that’s too expensive.” Because I believe that this thought came from your soul. You don’t have to act on it right away, but I plead with you...do not discount it! You ARE worth it!
You can do this easy, simple practice over and over again, as much as you need to. It could take 5 minutes. It could take even less than 5 minutes. Sometimes I just will pause with whatever I’m doing and just take a breath. And just pause. And the other thing you can ask yourself besides, “What is the best way for me to take care of myself?” is you can breathe in and you could ask yourself, “What is the best way I can take care of you today?” So you’re talking to yourself. So you take a deep breath and you say, “What is the best way I can take care of you today?”
Serena: So Emilie, thank you so much for sharing that exercise with us. I love the message you’re sharing about worth. I certainly struggle with that and I could see doing this exercise and trying to work through that. But I will share that as I was asking myself what, how I can take care of myself today, I think what came to me was just the sort of “be here now” which breathing often does that for me. So, what about you Tina? What did you get out of that?
Tina: Yeah and I love the, “YOU ARE WORTH IT”! That mantra. Very adoptable. And the breathing. I just think the breathing is so very important. In the moments that we are going through our day, and it sounds silly, but not deep breathing. It is simple. It is free. And it is a quick act of self-care. Emilie, is it fair to say that Foundation was born out of your need to find your path after struggling with your own health?
Emilie: Yes. Yeah. Foundation was birthed out of my journey to wholeness that I committed myself to in 2017. As I practiced mindfulness and meditation I continued to receive guidance. And this guidance led me to make choices and decisions that resulted in my improved health. And I just felt better. I started to share this with others because I was so excited and I saw them starting to benefit also. So, it became clear to me that I needed to write a book and share the “secrets” that I had discovered, with all of you and with everyone that I could.
Serena: Hmm. In Chapter 6 you talk about Emotion or what Tina and I sometimes refer to as the feels! You write, “There are no bad or wrong emotions. I believed that I was too emotional. I also believed that being emotional was weak, and that if I was sad or cried, it was bad. If I got excited and happy, then I was weird. Now I know that every emotion carries valuable information. Every emotion is valid.” We are strong believers in that. So, tell us a bit more about how you came to recognize that.
Emilie: Yes. For sure. I’m glad that that popped out for you guys because that was so important to me because I’m a very “emotional” person. For me understanding that every emotion was valid was the key for me. Not only did I come to know that every emotion was valid, but I also learned how valuable each and every emotion was. And that each emotion carries a massive amount of information with it. And this truth changed my relationship with my emotions. At first I recognized that when I judged my emotion as “bad” and tried to resist it or change it, it only made it worse, and that actually increased my anxiety. So I decided that wasn’t gonna work so I just started to sit and breathe and allow my emotions to be. And I gave them space. Sometimes I was able to identify what the emotion was and sometimes I knew why I was feeling it and sometimes I had no idea. And I learned that that was just fine. The important part was allowing it and not judging the emotion, or myself for feeling it. Once I was able to do this on a consistent basis, I started to see that I could observe my emotion and gather real-time information about it. And this completely changed my relationship with my emotions.
We practice this exact process in the guided meditations that are a companion to my book. Just like with the present moment process, I will lead you through the exact steps that worked for me. And you’ll be amazed at what happens as a result of this very simple practice.
Tina: Mmm. So is it fair to say that recognizing your emotions through mindfulness and meditation are practices that are useful in taking good care of yourself? You mentioned earlier that you knew about some of these tools but that you couldn’t quite integrate them into your life. Tell us a bit about how you came to value these tools and kind of really put them into practice.
Emilie: Sure. As I started to practice mindfulness, which is what I call present moment awareness, I noticed I would feel relief. And in that space of the present moment, I wouldn’t feel as upset or agitated or anxiety-ridden. That I could breathe and find peace. So I kept doing it. And then it evolved into more of a meditation practice. And so for me meditation is the observance of one’s present moment awareness. So for me it has a little more of an intention to it. So in the space of my meditation I continued to experience the relief, and I also started to realize that there was information of all kinds in that space. So sometimes I would receive words, sometimes images, sometimes ideas and inspirations and I was inspired to do certain things. And as I acted upon those things, I became healthier and my life became healthier and I started to feel better. I also saw that I had clarity when I was meditating. And it started to draw me to meditation daily and hourly. So not just the relief I was feeling, but the clarity I would receive and then the ideas and different things that I knew would help me in my life. So this state filled me with so much joy, that I chose to be there much of the time. And that is actually my hope for all of you. That when you work through my book and the accompanying meditations: that you will easily and naturally cultivate a practice for yourself that will create this real life experience for you as well.
Serena: Mmm. So to wrap things up, we wonder: What wisdom do you have now that you wish that you had when you were struggling?
Emilie: Oh wow, that’s a great question. It’s so interesting because I wouldn’t change all that struggle for anything now for all that I’ve gained from it. But at the same time, if I could have this wisdom without going through that, that would also be pretty cool. So my simple answer is that all I needed was to slow down and sit still and breathe. And that in that stillness was everything that I needed or wanted or desired. And that in that space I could find relief and peace and comfort. And in that space I am loved, worthy and perfect just as I am.
Tina: Mmm. Love it! Emilie, we want to thank you for talking with us today and being vulnerable and sharing your new book, and some of your well earned wisdom. You can find Emilie’s book and the companion meditation album on her website www.emilierawlings.com. Emilie is with an IE and we will make sure that the link is in the show notes. Yeah, so thanks!
Emilie: Thank you so much for having me. It was a pleasure.
Serena: Thank you Emilie. So as always, we are very grateful to all of you for listening and supporting us. You can help us out by visiting Apple podcasts, leaving us a review, subscribing and sharing with others.
Tina: And this is your gentle reminder to take good care of yourself while you are taking care of your people.
Serena: Thanks for listening!