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The power of a sound bath

14 Sep

10:19 pm

I think I mentioned in my last post that I recently spent a week on the west coast of Costa Rica, mainly to do yoga, but also to be alone to process the fact that there are changes and evolutions going on in my life, and there is grief, and I am having a hard time dealing with all that AND keeping everything else in place.  I only spent four days there–two were traveling to get there, and then, the final two days were spent getting home (and, stressing:  I was booked through Miami on the way home, and Hurricane Dorian was just picking up speed that week and it looked like it was going to blow through Florida).  Anyway, my time there was short and I only had four days, but four days was enough to see a transformation.

WhirrWhirrWhirrrrrrrring.  This was the sound of my mind–the sound of my incessant thinking–during the first two days (well, all the time).  I filled those days taking yoga, walking along the beaches (gosh, the Pacific is immense and amazing–and warm!?–down there), eating fish and rice and fruit (my perfect diet, I must say), and going to bed.  Yet, my mind!  Would.  Not.  Stop.  Thinking.  JESUS.  I mean, I could literally hear the whirring sound…like a swarm of mosquitoes, filling my skull to the brim, spinning in one huge loud circle of BUZZ, WHIRR, WHIRRRRRRRRING.

On the evening of the second day, I decided to take a sound bath.  The instructor was fantastic–the resort where I took my classes had some of the best teachers I’ve ever had, actually–and the sound bath was really cool.  I mean, I’ve participated in sound “healing” ceremonies before; and yeah, afterward I do feel calmer and I can remember at least a few interesting visuals that came up during the ceremony; but, I have never felt anything beyond that.  I enjoy them, that’s true, but I’m not sure I would consider them to be healing, per se.

Until I woke up on the third day feeling…quiet.  QUIETED.  Happy.  Calm, clear, optimistic.  Like, the sense of clarity was unmistakably uplifting!  The whirring had stopped.  What the…?  I walked along the beach that morning, noticing that all my confusing, conflicted thoughts and thought tendencies and thought patterns–this mental weight that had been bogging me down for the past two days–had just gone away.  The whirring was gone.  Now, I don’t know if I should credit the sound bath, but…

The following night, my last, I went to my second sound bath–and this time, I listened a bit more closely to what the teacher was saying before he started in on his instruments (I have to admit, during the first class, I was just like, yeah, uh huh, right).  And what he said was:  by utilizing sound waves, sound baths ultimately allow your higher mind to distance itself from your lower mind (the thinking, the judging, the ego mind)–which helps to quiet the lower mind.  I was like, what?  That is literally exactly how I felt; that I had this newfound sense of clarity because the whirring just seemed to have ceased, and my higher mind was now fully present–quiet, not as judgmental, open.  This, in turn, made me feel happier, friendlier to self and others, more willing to have conversations with strangers, more able to take in and enjoy the scenery…

At home now, what this clearer, quieter state of mind has allowed me to do is be more positive, in general, and resist negativity (from my own mind, from others).  I don’t feel like judging people or situations or getting angry; I just want to let it go and continue to vibrate, as it were, at my higher, quieter level.  It’s helped me feel and be more positive toward my relationships, my job, my coworkers; it’s helped me let things roll off my back and maintain a sense of calm happiness.

This feeling was really strong during the first week after I got back; I’m on my second week now, and while I don’t feel as happy and/or quieted, I find myself going back to that place of quiet clarity in my mind.  I mean, even if I no longer presently own that sense of clarity, I can remember I once did and what it felt like–which goes a long way toward cultivating (I guess you could say) that state of mind.

It was definitely worth suspending my disbelief!  Now, I feel like there is hope, there is a place to go, there IS clarity and quiet to be had–it’s just a matter of finding the tools to get there and developing those tools to keep you there.

It’s crazy how things have changed

1 Jul

1:27 am

I am at home (like, home home) now, with my immediate family, and it’s crazy how *I* am the one, it seems, who is the most sober of all!  And by that I mean, irritated by how much other people are drinking, unwilling to really care about fixing them or holding onto what I cannot change, and um, SHOCKED at how late people eat and how LONG they drink into the night!?  What am I, old?

I watched them all pass out in their beds (or on chairs in the kitchen) while I went up to my room to do yoga and meditate.  (They’re kind of one in the same for me these days; and frankly, I have had such back problems that I cannot go a day without doing yoga and most definitely not more than two without working out…  But, it’s also because it’s just how I MUST DO if I am to remain centered, sober, calm and able to let everyone else’s issues and questions and concerns and gossip bounce off of me!)

So, yeah.  It is crazy how things have changed.  I’m also feeling much more willing, like I said, to accept people for who they are–and not try to change them, and not worry about me changing for them.  Like, someone grilled me about not having health insurance at the moment, and at first I felt bad, alarmed, like, oh, yeah, maybe I should get a catastrophic policy.  I had insurance, but let it lapse–and since then, well, I simply don’t worry about it.  This family member worries about stuff like that; yet, here I am, doing yoga and not drinking as preventive health, and here he is, drinking like a fish and then, downing a pot of coffee the next morning.

I am feeling super-weird about keeping this blog anonymous from my family anymore, but…I realized after talking about my sobriety last night with family members that it has to be the right moment for the reveal–and I have to be extremely ready to explain myself–and it’s not, and I’m not.  So, I keep putting it off…even though it’s starting to feel like a huge lie, a big withholding that equates to a lie.  Then again, I GET to get this; I deserve whatever choice I choose when it comes to my privacy and space, and method for getting sober and somewhat spiritually fit.  When the time comes, I’ll know it.

Till then, um, I LOVE who I have become, and I LOVE what the “right now” is for me; even IF there is extreme uncertainty (which I can deal with, and have dealt with for years as a freelance writer), well, I still have me, I have my spiritual center, I have my sobriety–which is frankly fucking invaluable.  I mean, priceless.  I mean, I’d take no job and no health insurance and a small rental in the middle of someplace that I’m not sure I like living (but am content in myself, so it really doesn’t matter where the “where” is anymore) ANY DAY over having things, and a big home, and “security” (which cannot exist without fear).  ANY DAY.

End of rant.  Good night, my sober friends.  Thank you for being here, with me, all these six years–you have no idea how liberating your understanding and support has been!

I wish I could run, but my sciatic pain is killing me!

3 Sep

2:41 pm

I hate to be so incessantly whiney, but here goes:

I’ve been having major sciatica flare-up lately (I’m 38, but have been told I’ve got the back of someone in their 50s on my bad days!), which means, no running and no stretching, even. For those who are wondering, don’t spend 15 years glued to a desk chair for 10 hours a day. Sometimes, drinking would help this pain, but that was usually just a VERY lame excuse (it never really did) to drink!

Most of the time, I stretch at least once in the morning (my personal yoga, or, “me-ga”) and then I do yoga. Good weeks, I’ll do yoga every day. Bad weeks, not at all. I also run and hit the gym on the regular.

This week, however, not only am I having intense cravings, but I’m also PMSing — I feel more distracted/paranoid and depressed/irritable than normal. AND, for some reason, PMS seems to totally exacerbate any back problems I have, including muscle pain and sciatica pain. Lately, my sciatica has moved all the way inside my leg and down my hamstring. What does it feel like? Well, it always feels the same in my lower back, like someone slid a knife through the muscle right above my left butt and is twisting it continually. It throbs and burns. That’s always there. My left buttock feels sore and burns, and lately, my inner leg feels like I pulled a muscle. When I bend down, the pain starts around the outside of my left butt, shoots down around front, curves around where my leg meets my body, and then shoots straight down along my hamstring. Simultaneously, shooting pain goes UP from the front of my left thigh to the outside of my leg, and then triggers shooting pain down the center to left side of my left calf.

All in all, it sucks. I deal, mainly because I don’t know what to do about it. Yoga is out for this kind of pain (it makes it worse), and I don’t want to run because that just tightens my back and makes pain like this in my leg — it feels like an injury, not muscle cramps — worse.

Any ideas? I’m seeing an acupuncturist for a consult tomorrow, but…it’s $$$ and typically, this entire plethora of symptoms eases after I get my period. BUT, like I said in another post, my lower back vertebrae feel gross and clunky these days during some easy floor exercises and that seems very bad to me. If it’s like this now, in a fairly muscular, athletic person, what will it be like 25 years from now? And, is there any relief from this constant pain?

Input and advice much welcome!

It’s official: I’m a drunk! ;)

27 Jul

9:12 pm

Dude. I’m taking a break from the opening ceremonies of the Olympics, thinking a few things: one, damn, that Voldemort was huge; two, Kenneth Branagh…again?; and, three, the last opening ceremonies I watched was Beijing 2008 at a bar in [cold east coast city] with an ex-friend, mainly “ex” due to a combination of her ruthlessness when it comes to using people and my drinking problem. Think much?

So, I’ve taken some time off work/”real life” recently (well, for the past 7 months now — doh!) to, I’m realizing, get sober and rediscover myself. Recently I applied to a month-long retreat program at an ashram (think yoga, meditation, and ashram-y things like chanting) on the east coast. I thought I’d be a shoo-in, but I included on my app that I was 6 weeks sober and really wanted to use the program as a step toward healing and, dare I say, inner peace. Well, I finally heard back from them today, and the scoop is that yes, I’d be a great candidate cuz their integral yoga program is all about finding inner peace and the tools to maintain and flourish in that peace in the “outside” world; but no, I can’t come cuz they’re not a “facility” and their policy is at least 6 months sober and/or clean.

Bummer. I guess I had been wondering how I would manage, if my cravings somehow came back and/or if my mood fluctuated and I started to feel trapped, which seems to happen a lot these days.

However, I had a great chat with the “sister” who helps run the place. AND, I thought it very cool that she was 25 years clean, she told me. She offered me her two cents after I told her that my cravings were still quite strong: find a larger purpose outside yourself, in addition to a regular yoga practice; AND, don’t give in/stay sober. It’s a beautiful thing (sobriety), she said, adding that she wouldn’t even think twice about giving in and drinking now. I believed her, for some reason; maybe it was her honesty and earnestness, over the phone, to a stranger.

In any case, it made me think about AA again, and what a 12-step program could offer now that I’m well into resisting the desire to drink. Maybe a sense of community is really, actually, what I need? I never believed that AA could be psychologically beneficial in the long run; to me, it’s just an excuse for lonely people to come together and practice a pretend religion. Or to whine about how hard it was for them to quit spending MONEY THAT THEY ACTUALLY HAVE TO SPEND on BOOZE THAT IS ACTUALLY WIDELY AVAILABLE TO BUY (I’m thinking Haiti here, where there is no money, little booze (and infrastructure to move it around) and therefore, no drinking…unless you do cheap beer, strong rum, or moonshine, which I won’t even get into)! Irritating! Now, well, I guess I can see otherwise. It was just nice to talk to someone who’s been there; I actually thought about believing her when she said, You should resist your cravings because there is a lot of beauty awaiting you.

One more reason to stay sober…for good. Gulp. It’s real. It’s official. I’m a drunk, and now I’m sober. And sticking to it…for the long run. Yikes/Ugh. 😦

Funny, I had a hard time calling myself an alcoholic when she asked me about drinking and my newfound weeks of sobriety. I think I mumbled something about drinking wine a lot, it hurting my professional and personal lives and relationships… BUT, I wasn’t a “raging alcoholic,” you see… I sounded like the drunk-in-denial cliche. Worse, it made me feel confused: am I a drunk, or am I just putting myself through this sobriety nonsense cuz I’m melodramatizing a part of my life so that I feel like I have a goal, or a reason to live, or something higher than myself that happens to be nothing at all, really? Ugh.

Anyway, I SO HEART the Olympics! Such festivities! Such athletes! I wonder how awesome it must be to cover the Games as a sports journalist? Not to mention, how cool would it be to somehow be involved in them?

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