So I started meditating this year. This summer, in fact.
I’m admittedly the sort of person who is drawn to hippie things like a moth to a flame. I attribute much of this to the fact that what feels like my true calling in life – service, personal growth, health – is not anything I’m heeding at the moment nor possess the balls to go after. It isn’t that I hate what I do, I don’t, but at 37 I’ve made enough life choices that require me at the moment to seek other options for fulfillment.
(But that does trigger something interesting, now that I’m writing this. If I had a do-over? I’d study psychology, with an emphasis on women’s issues, get my Masters and become a therapist.)
A more pressing force for meditating, though, is the meltdown I had early summer. We all have those moments where we hang out for too long in our own heads and get sucked into the centrifugal force that are voices telling you how subpar you are. Usually I can climb right out before the force pulls me under or traps me into it for any extended period. This time? I didn’t fight it. Didn’t even try, really. On top of not fighting it, I believed in the message powering it all and just sat in my own toxicity. Marinating in it. Stewing.
I decided that yes, I am untalented in every regard and, to boot, probably unsalvageable to find anything to be good at ever. I came to the conclusion that any intelligence I have is a farce, gleaned only by osmosis. I reasoned that I’d hit that proverbial moment in life where the wheat is separated from the chaff, and I was so clearly chaff that I questioned how it was that I could go this long in life not only believing I was wheat but GOOD wheat. Who the fuck was I to believe I was special?
We lose our way. We get caught in the undertow of life, especially when we’ve programmed ourselves into believing that all undertows make themselves bombastically known. Mostly life tries to slowly and quietly disintegrate your shoreline. With each missed deadline, each week of a sick baby and sleep missed, each fight with a lover or friend, and on and on, all of the protective rocks and pebbles and barriers float away. And then, one day, if you haven’t battened down the hatches appropriately, you just find yourself dropping the mic with an “Aw, fuck this,” and go drink a bottle of wine and mainline three veggie chicken sandwiches slathered in Vegenaise in a sitting.
At least that’s if you are me.
I never once wanted to harm myself or throw in the towel altogether, but I lacked the ability to pull myself together and act like a functioning adult. And because I don’t subscribe to the thinking that a gnarly cycle of anxiety and depression is a character flaw, I found a new therapist and started to get the help I needed. I wasn’t ashamed of myself, of course. I’m too old and progressive to believe I can control depression any more than I can control whether the sun sets in the West.
(But don’t think that I haven’t wanted to try. The sun best recognize is all I’m saying.)
In the weeks that progressed, and the clearer my headspace, the more obvious it became to me that while I can’t change who I am in this capacity, I can certainly be a more active participant in my life. I can stop pretending that I can “be like everyone else” and eat what I want, drink what I want, run on all cylinders and generally function as though depression and anxiety and my janky thyroid don’t threaten the peace of my life. Honoring what I need – and putting in the hard work in to do so – is the least interesting thing to do, but the most beneficial.
So I started meditating. Once a day, sometimes twice. Sometimes for five minutes, mostly for ten, on weekends for up to 30. I started going to meditation retreats through my neighborhood yoga studio, and I’m signed up for three more between now and the end of the year.
(I’m not sure where else I’m going with this. I need to start my day. Damn NaNoWriMo and my lack of substantial time to write.)
I don’t know that meditation is the catch-all, but I suppose you can say that about anything. For now, it’s an anchor whenever I feel myself start drifting away, seduced by the sounds that tell me I’m not good enough to do anything more than aimlessly float away in the middle of the sea.