What an auspicious date, September 11, 2010. I looked around the room of the women’s gym which I had owned with my girlfriend for five years and felt a strong wave of emotion wash over me. I felt such enormous relief that this mess was finally over. There were still some tough times to come as the business went into liquidation and we both were to file for bankruptcy. To top it all off I had also chosen to end our relationship.
Within the first six months of running the business I knew I had made a terrible mistake. I was hoping that running this business would improve our already fragile relationship. In reality things only got worse as I felt controlled and emotionally abused when things didn’t go my girlfriend’s way.
In the months and years to follow I began to lose my sense of self and the ability to speak up. I ignored my own needs and numbed my feelings.
In hindsight I recognise I was blocking out the emotional and physical warning responses from my body. The result was adrenal fatigue more commonly known as burnout!
I developed severe adrenal fatigue and unknown to me at the time, I had a long road of recovery ahead of me. I was burnt out on every level imaginable and I wondered how I was ever going to bring myself back to a healthy level of functioning. For so many years I had pushed forward with choices which were not in alignment with my own intuitive hunches or the calling of my soul. I had continually put others needs first to the detriment of my own.
Thankfully, with time, (about 4 years) some radical self care decisions and an extremely deep focus on what I needed to change to come back into mind body and soul realignment, I did recover. During this period I realised that one of the most important things I needed to do was to find daily practices, rituals and routines which would calm my stressed and overstimulated nervous system. One of these practices was the simple art of colouring mandalas.
Mandalas have been around for centuries as a profound healing tool, however it is only in recent years that Western culture has begun to open to this art. Mandala is a Sanskrit word meaning circle and represents the universe. One way a mandala can be used is as a spiritual or meditative tool.
Through colouring mandalas I found some life changing benefits:
After just a few minutes of colouring, the body’s innate “relaxation response” begins to activate. This helps to reduce the stress hormones (like cortisol) that are pulsating through the body and instead increase the “feel-good” hormones (like dopamine and oxytocin).
Because of the shift in the way the hormones are being released, a greater sense of peace, calm and balance is felt very quickly and a deeper, reflective state is more easily found.
The movement of colouring helps to put you into a meditative state. Meditation does not have to be sitting in the lotus position chanting “Om”, it can be in the form of a movement. Colouring is a very effective movement tool to bring this about.
After many years of colouring mandalas and in recent months discovering zendalas (a mandala shape which also includes what is known as zentangle ™ patterns), I decided to try my hand at designing my own. I had so much fun with the process, I ended up creating 36, and putting them into a printable book ready to colour.
If you are interested, you can find them over at www.healingfromburnout.com/shop
It is so important in our often overfilled lives to find daily practices which bring us back to the heart and soul of who we are. This is the place where our true essence lies and where we discover the deeper parts of who we are and why we are here on this planet right now.
Lisa Callinan healed from adrenal fatigue and is also a nearly recovered people pleaser. Her introvert nature could let her spend all day reading and browsing bookstores, but luckily she is also excited to write and speak about her experience with burnout in order to help others on their own healing journey.
You can find her at www.healingfromburnout.com