Tag Archives: meditation

Stillness, checking in, and…grief?

29 Aug

12:04 am

I hate that my posts are OH-so-heavy seemingly all the time, but lately, I’ve been away.  Disconnected, really.  It’s why I am here, on the west coast of Costa Rica, doing yoga and being alone and trying to get myself back.  Or, get back to myself.  Or, both!

Before coming here, though, I spent a few days in the city where I started this blog, where I got sober–and, where my drinking became alcoholic.  It was another pilgrimage, I suppose; since storing my stuff nine years ago (I’ve since cleared that unit out–a big deal after nine years!), I’ve clung to this idea that I would move back.  For sure, I would.  This is (was) where I belonged, where I am (was) my most “me,” where I feel (felt) at home.  This was my dream, for nine years.  Well, over the past nine years, I’ve gone from definitely moving back to probably moving back to most likely not moving back…to probably NEVER moving back because I don’t belong there and I don’t want to live there!  It’s been a long, gradual process of letting go–and frankly, I don’t know if I’ve actually fully let go yet.

It’s like, I can barely articulate it to myself, so I’m going to try and write it out and see if by writing it out, I can somehow locate this neurotic loop that my brain has been running for weeks, months, and years.  It could be as simple as admitting, I can’t let go of the past.  What does that mean, though?  Is it that I want to relive that past?  A part of me has a certain obsessive, stalker-esque fondness for that period of time when I started this blog:  it was all new, and I had a LOT to look forward to.  I had a new love, I was finally getting sober and starting to write about it (on this blog), and, I had finally made it back to the city of my dreams!  I realized this, as I was freakishly standing (once again) in front of the apartment that I sublet that summer (in 2012):  my nostalgia for these early years might be so strong because it includes finally moving back to the city of my dreams.  Now, do I want to relive this past?  No, I don’t think I want to relive any past–I do want to live in the here and now.  I think I just miss feeling the way I felt then.  And, every time I go back to this city, I want to feel how I felt then.

Every time I go back to said city, I am looking for this…sense of looking-forward-to, or anticipation.  I don’t know, maybe I equate this feeling of, let’s call it anticipatory glee with being young?  I was only seven years younger then!  It’s like, I want that feeling yet I know that I don’t want to relive the past, and I know that what I have now is like, the culmination of all that so-called dreaming/anticipating/looking-foward-to.  If I have what I was yearning for then, why am I sad that I am no longer in a place where I don’t have it?

Sounds neurotic, maybe even a bit crazy, doesn’t it?

What has changed in the past seven years for me is hard to deny:  I don’t want to live in this city anymore, and moreover, I don’t want to cling to my dream of living in this city anymore.  Yet, I WANT to want to!  I feel like I’m giving up, and that scares me.  What is there for me, after I finally do let go of this dream that I no longer want?  Who am I?  How do I define myself now?

Every time I go back, I become less and less enamored with the city; this time, it just exhausted me, it triggered me, and I saw all the warts.  I have almost fully embraced the fact that I need green space, nature; I need it to rejuvenate and inspire me!  I also have come to depend on a much less stimulating environment in order to write/be creative; if I know there is something new to consume (a new restaurant, a new bar–at least when I was drinking, which I’m not–a new museum), it’s like, I cannot BUT consume it out of some obsessive need to know it all or do it all or just a fear of missing out.  Yet, it’s distracting, and I don’t get anything done.  And, that triggers me to feel confused, sad, depressed, wound up, whatever it is that writers (or creatives) feel that makes us go insane if we don’t write or create.

So, it was a tiring, vexing visit; and, after all my walking, stalking, and incessant thinking, I had a night where I just melted down.  It was brought on by me looking at The Dodo videos, which made me start thinking of our sweet boy who we had to put down last year, which just snowballed into a general sense of grief–for our “son,” for myself, for my dreams, for my youth.  GAH.  JESUS.  (It’s funny now, but only because it sounds so freaking neurotic!)  It felt like my mind was dissolving that night; I felt like I had some sort of “dementia” episode, if there even is such a thing.  OH, WAIT, there is such thing, and it’s called a night of binge drinking and a hangover the next day–which I totally felt like I had.  I had an emotional hangover, and the ONLY place I’ve ever had these types of hangovers is this city!  Make the connection, Drunky Drunk Girl:  this city triggers you for all sorts of reasons, why keep coming back?  

These days, I have to admit that I’ve moved on, thankfully; I’ve formed new plans and conjured new dreams.  I am here now, in Costa Rica, and it is super-refreshing, a huge mental reprieve, to be here and now with my present-day self.  A part of me feels like I am grieving, though (which hit me clearly during a sound bath class that I took)–and I think I just needed to sit still for a little while to actually acknowledge that the grief is there, and that it is real, and that it’s legitimate to feel this way.

Turn and face the strange ch-ch-changes…

Inspiration to others

2 Sep

8:25 am

Well, it’s now the second day of September–can’t seem to hold onto the days! Happy Labor Day, all.

I’m up early, mainly because it’s so stinking hot here in the mornings, but also, I seem to have recovered some of my lagging (depressed) energy! Thank Jesus to that. I was starting to wonder, am I going to simply be down forever? I’ve been down before, but not really severely, I guess, and not for over a month; my depressive episodes are more low-grade and last a long time. This felt severe, but it seems to have literally lifted.

I’m tired this morning, but you know what? The simple fact remains: I am sober. Wow. Here I am, like it or not, sober. What a great feeling. Being sober is a given, a known. And, I like this given, this known, this certainty, this…solid ground…more than, well, getting to drink. I can’t have both, and I’m becoming OK with that.

I meditated yesterday, and it helped. It was good in that I got to “somewhere else,” which I’m relieved about because sometimes, it takes a lot longer than simply one time. I mean, that someplace else lasted for about less than 10 minutes, but it was enough to make me really want to do it again. I’m actually thinking of taking a “soul vacation,” as coined by one of my friends down here: one month at a meditation retreat, one month volunteering somewhere (like, another country). I can’t wait to move on from “this phase,” which is basically me having no enthusiasm.

I got an email the other day from a friend of mine who says she’s tired of embarrassing (and dangerous, I’d say, if she asked me) things happening when she drinks too much. And, I think she is starting to, you know, exhibit “me”-like drinking behavior, which includes things like drinking for 2.5 days straight and doing alternately wildly inappropriate and bizarre things while out on a date (well, multiple dates with multiple men).

Anyway, she’s going for a Sober September. To “get her shit together.” This is the same girl who, well, I wouldn’t say wasn’t supportive of my getting sober, but I think it put her in a really weird place, questioning her own habits. I also felt like she secretly wanted me to fail, and actively dissed me a little bit at first for the reason(s) behind this. In any case, that’s all in the past, I haven’t looked back, and it’s interesting to see that maybe, just maybe, she’s SEEN the benefits in my life of me getting sober and is using it as inspiration to make some changes in her own that might have a broader effect. I hope it works, and I’m rooting for her!

Well, I think it might be time for a nap. It’s a little past 9, and I’ve already made coffee, showered, threw a load of laundry in, did half my bills, wrote this, and opened a few browser windows to look up Vipassana retreats! Cool beans, eh? Thank you, sober me. You did it. You’re doing it, I should say.

(And, man, did I really, really, really want to drink on Saturday night, but the few tears I did cry made me laugh at how silly I was being. The music didn’t hold sway over my feelings, I got dressed, I did my errands, and I came home, feeling for once (in a long time) peaceful and creative-I-don’t-care-what-happens kind of creative. I read, I listened to a The Decemberists Pandora station (do they play any Decemberists anymore on a Decemberists station?), and went to bed feeling like I was 19 instead of 39, like the world was ahead of me, like I was ageless and free. It’s these moments, when you tackle the craving and actually GET SOMETHING of wonder, and peace, in the end; it’s these moments that make it worth the effort, that offer a glimpse of–gasp!–the liberation ahead.)

A little slack in my comments and posts lately, but…

1 Apr

11:43 pm

I’m on day 14 (again), and I just wanted to check in and tell you that…I’m on day 14 again. Why? I feel myself slipping. I feel like I can drink now. Or, I can contemplate drinking now. That’s better, yes: I can think about it again. Which is NOT GOOD. Which is, not easy. That little slip was bigger that I thought, I have to admit.

Today I spent a while, let’s just say, staring at the wine selection at a local big box store down here, thinking that I could just “pick up a bottle no big deal.” Except, a bottle’s not enough. And, two, as we have seen, is way too much.

So, I’m going to try harder to connect with this blog, try more and better to keep blogging–like I was last summer, feverishly–and keep replying to all the comments I receive. Granted, 98 percent of my lack of response (well, maybe 95) is a lack of time; but the remainder is the crack in the window, the wolf’s in. If I don’t reply, if I stay quiet…the more I let myself believe that I’m right, and you’re all wrong. That’s simply put, but I think you get it.

So, here’s to 2 weeks. Two. Little. Weeks. Sigh. And, wasn’t it just a few days ago that I was riding high on my unicorn, happy and proud of my “decision” to take the weight of All Those Days off my back so I could continue moving forward? Nonsense.

I envy Belle, hitting that sweet spot where things have changed. I can’t wait to get there, too.

(Btw, I’ve started to crochet again. I’m either old, hip, or a combination of the two. I used to do it as a kid, and I won some crafty awards. It was very meditative, and I hope to find in it that simple, mindful mindlessness that might improve the hours of ambivalence facing me over the next 16 days (I think getting a month under my drinkin’ belt again will help my MIND, alongside my heart, commit to being sober)).

Meditation and sobriety: I do not think, therefore I do not drink?

12 Sep

11:12 pm

I went to the Shambhala center tonight for a group meditation event. It was OK. Nothing mind-blowing. I mean, the “instructions” for newbies (there were four of us) were pretty funny in how basic they were (how much instruction does one need to sit down and breathe?): sit up straight; put your hands on your knees/thighs, palms facing down; and close your eyes slightly but not totally while you focus them downward. Then, sit like that for however long you want, and focus on your breathing.

I believe we all meditate at certain points during the day, so it didn’t feel all that unfamiliar to like, not be thinking. Shoot, I think I spend QUITE a few minutes these sober days with NO THOUGHTS whatsoever; now that I seem to be naturally dazed most of the time, I like to just stare out my window and well, think about nothing. For hours sometimes. Tonight was different in that I was sitting (ouch, I definitely might want to think twice about that vipassana retreat where you sit from 4 am to 9 pm every day for 10 days), was “mindfully not thinking” (whatever that means), and it was with a group. At first, I found all the little swallowing noises and slight exhalations irritating, but then when I had to do it, I realized that they sort of get drowned out by your mindlessness after a while.

The basic concept of Shambhala is that we are all good, and have inherent love and integrity within — this is our true, effortless nature. Meditation helps us to remember/realize this.

There was a talk afterward by some dude who’s been doing Shambhala for 20 years about “drala,” which is the same concept as life energy or chi. He talked about internal and external drala, and how it’s all around us if we choose to interact with it. One guy spoke up and said he felt “good energy” here, in [cold west coast city] (he just moved here from the east coast); he said that it felt alive, whereas parts of the east coast felt dead. Ironically, I feel the opposite (maybe I’m projecting, or maybe our experience of drala is interestingly quite personal). I wanted to pipe up and say that my “drala” here was in the absolute zero zone on the Kelvin scale, but I let it go. I don’t need to win ’em all. 😉

He also mentioned a point that I took home: feelings like anger and anxiety are actually forms of aggression toward yourself. Shambhala teaches that we are good and deserve to be treated with dignity and love, and that it’s completely unnecessary — and counterproductive — to be aggressive toward ourselves. I feel like my self-judgment and aggressive behavior toward myself runs rampant, and has for as long as I can remember. Why did I drink myself into a tizzy for a decade, doing things that were the pinnacle of self-hatred? Not to mention, wallowing in anger and fear/anxiety for many years over a failed relationship, or a move to somewhere new, or even a trip to a meditation center where I’d be bound to meet, gasp, NEW PEOPLE?

I felt welcomed by the dude who instructed us on how to meditate (for some reason, I blurted out to him that I was getting sober, which I think helped us connect more quickly because I was so honest), but otherwise, the place felt stiff. I felt that the overall vibe was very [cold west coast city] — stiff, guarded, angry, and sullen. Of course, not everyone in the room was stiff, but the entire feel of the place didn’t do it for me.

BUT, I liked sitting and meditating. After about half an hour, we got up and did some walking meditation (basically just walking and watching your feet and not thinking), which was good because my right foot was falling asleep.

I felt *something* like calmer toward the end, but for the most part, my focusing on my breathing made it feel harder to breathe naturally, so that was uncomfortable. And, the sciatica pain was there, so I was continually moving around on my cushion (I’m sure I was “that annoying chic over there”). My hands were sweating and it was hot in the room, but I didn’t want to take off my sweatshirt.

All in all, no minds were blown. BUT, it piqued my curiosity — especially the group aspect. Even though there might be some angry people (shit, I’m probably one of ’em), when we’re meditating, there is a different quality to my own state of concentration that I can already tell might help me progress more into the process than if I were alone. Kind of like studying in a library instead of at home.

And the best part? You can’t drink — or think about drinkin’ — when you’re meditating! Day 26. Woot woot!

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