Meditation is actually one very good thing that I do. Mostly every day. I even offer a guided group meditation in my home every Thursday morning. I love gong and singing bowl and chanting meditation events, and I rarely miss one of Gary Springfield's blow-your-chakras-wide-open weekend workshops whenever he comes to town. (Check out www.garyspringfield.com for new online opportunities to join the party). But no matter who we are or where we are with this, there's always room to ramp up and expand our practice. Even the secular world now recognizes at least a dozen benefits from regular meditation. But my take on it goes like this: The Kingdom lies within and meditation is the door.
I know it's tough to quiet the mind. My husband just throws up his hands and says, "I can't stop the noisy chatter of my thoughts" and leaves it at that. He can't do it, the experience is frustrating, end of story. One of the fellows in my Thursday meditation group asked why Bill never joins us—he greets everyone and then disappears. When I told Greg how Bill feels, he laughed: "Oh that, well he's definitely the only one with that problem."
And in all fairness, trying to hang in there for 50 minutes with people who have been meditating for years or even decades would make any beginner's skin crawl. That's why Deepak Chopra paced out one of his 21-Day Meditation Challenges by starting with just 3 minutes, moving up to 5, then 10, and finally 15. I've heard that Meditation for Dummies is a highly rated starting point, although there is no scarcity of guides and resources in today's world. If anything, the overflow of information and opportunity can be confusing—especially for those who believe in a "right way." There's only one right way, and that's the way that works best for you. Some folks turn their morning walk into a meditation.
But enough about meditation already, I'm a fan. Let's move on to the True Confessions portion of our program, going back in time to Tuesday—when, to borrow a phrase used by so many of our precious online tribe, I fucked up. (Makes me smile every time I see it, sorry, it just does.)
The morning started with a packed To Do List before my friend Linda arrived for a few days of "just us" time and the crowning glory of laughing our asses off atThe Book of Mormon on Saturday evening. My energy was lagging but my agenda was packed—until the moment I found a hunk of tooth in my omelette. The ensuing circus of driving time, waiting room time, broken crown prep time, more driving time, and a few errands along the way chewed up my agenda and spit it out. But none of those things were really the problem, even though they set the entire day on its ear. The problem was the Communication Miracles for Couples book I took along to fill any empty spaces.
Just a few pages in, realizations were flashing and lights of awareness were turning on about better ways to approach frustration and conflict. Bill and I are both highly charged Aries, we both think we're right, we both want to be boss, and we both have an issue with "resting bitch face." If something is eating at us, we can both get moody and snappy without realizing we're coming across that way. (He's much worse than I am, of course.) When we slip out of harmony, communication turns into a mine field.
Reading about our universal human need for the 3 A's of Acknowledgment, Acceptance and Appreciation had me thinking about what a sensitive, affectionate, good-intentioned soul my husband really is—and how much he loves those times when it's just the two of us. It was that train of thought that led me to suggest we have a sunset dinner at our Club restaurant.
For anyone following this Hip Sobriety School series in chronological order, the Club was intimately involved in a Scorched Earth Episode a couple of weeks ago, at which time I swore that I would never set foot in the place again. But those who know me well would be the first to say that my never's can be very brief eternities. And sadly, the Club at this point in my journey is the kiss of death. No way is my fragile sobriety seedling all psyched up and armored to go "where everybody knows your name."
In the 20-20 vision of hindsight, I could be confessing that my suggestion was an act of self-sabotage slathered with a thin veneer of romantic gesture. But that's not the truth of the soft heart I was feeling. Bill loves that place, he loves going there with me, this would be our last alone time for the next four days, and he did indeed love the entire evening. He swore he would have just one double Jack and ended up with two. I ordered "just one" Prosecco but he ordered some friends, because that's what he does. No wonder everybody knows our name.
My take-home box was already brimming over with regret long before the all-too-familiar misery hit the next morning. I was deeply lamenting feeling like shit on my first day with Linda, but she was floating in the same boat from a day-into-night reunion with her high school girlfriends. She wasn't sure how many glasses of wine went down over that many hours, but alcohol is not her buddy and she usually drinks very little of it. What a relief for both of us to pull out of a sick tailspin and have this very rare time together completely alcohol free and lovin' it.
In reviewing the landscape of this particular trashing of what I thought might be my last Day One, one thing became crystal clear. I have to do more than launch new morning and evening rituals and ramp up my spiritual practice and get down on the yoga mat and work my tools. Bill and I need some brainstorming jam sessions to create new rituals for the two of us—new patterns for"us time" with fresh associations of scents and tastes and sounds. The good news about Mr. D. is a tendency to fall quickly into a comfortable rut. If the man enjoys something, he wants to do it again every single day for the rest of his life. I'm Dora the Explorer and he's the 180 of that, and we can work with this.
I am and always will be eternally grateful for Holly, for her wisdom and grit and dedication to disrupting the recovery movement. For the encouragement to keep our eyes on our own evolution—on self-knowledge, self-discovery, self-care, and gentle self-love. I used to watch people in AA drag their poor little asses into those rooms after a slip and hang their heads during the "newly sober" introductions. The air was charged with shame and shock, especially if these folks had 2 or 5 or 10 or even 25 years of sobriety. In spite of the fact that cross-talking was not allowed, so many well-meaning people would preface their personal sharing with a comment directed to the Newly Shamed, usually something like, "I am so glad you're back. I just don't know if I would have the courage to do that."
My thoughts always ran along a different line: Who in their right mind would ever want to come back to this? Thirty days of hanging your head and introducing yourself as newly sober again? And what about those fresh recruits who can't seem to get 30 straight days? How long are they going to endure this subtly shaming ritual before they just give up and walk out the door?
AA worked like a charm for me for three years because I was doing it perfectly—and what a gift to know exactly how that freedom feels. But that was then and now I'm on a different path, free of guilt and shame and rigid structures and unbending traditions and group pressure. Fucking up is one of my teachers, not my favorite instructor by any means, but hardly the end of the world. There's no failure and no resetting anything back to zero—ever. Zero was the day I decided to have my best life. Just like Cherly Strayed, I strapped that Monster of a pack to my back and set foot on the trail.