I find meditating to be very, very helpful. At first, it was agony to be still while my thoughts spun and whirred crazily. With practice, I started to be able to slow my thinking down, temporarily quieting the squeak of the hamster wheel in my head. Meditation has helped me find a calm, quiet energy and to put some separation between myself and my thoughts.
That realization that I am not my thoughts has been significant for me. As an alcoholic, my thoughts and feelings ran riot, bouncing from extreme to extreme. I spent my days reacting to irrational thoughts and ultimately, drinking to quiet them down—like a parent giving a child Benadryl before a long flight. Meditation doesn’t necessarily stop the crazy march of irrational thoughts in my head, but it does let me sit back and just watch the parade. I don’t have to react, I don’t have to make the parade stop and I don’t have to run away.
I often use guided meditations, but sometimes I like to simply spin out a picture in my mind—while breathing calmly and steadily. I imagine walking down a country road on a winter evening. The air is cold and crisp and the sun has just set, leaving a stripe of orange on the horizon. Above the glowing orange stripe, the sky gets progressively darker, at the top it’s the color of the midnight blue crayon in the 64-pack. The gravel crunches under my feet. The air is sharp and cold and clean when I breathe in and it billows in front of me when I let my breath out. Darkness falls bit by bit, the blue-black of night slowly staining the sky.
I’m walking towards a house in the distance. There are no lights, I can only make out its hulking shape, outlined in black against the sky. There is a stand of trees behind the house, only visible as a dark row of silhouettes. There is no wind, no sound but the crunching beneath my feet. There is calm and peace as I walk down the road and feel the cold on my face. There is calm and peace in the quiet and the darkness.
I’m not sure why I find that images so appealing and peaceful—but it really does help me. Enjoy the parade and thanks for letting me share.