Fine. I Guess I'll Start Meditating

Fine. I Guess I’ll Start Meditating

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Fine. I Guess I'll Start MeditatingMy head has been off to the races lately. The running commentator who likes to tell me I’m a loser who will never amount to anything and is destined to grow old alone in my hot box of a studio apartment is working around the clock. Seriously, Mean-Voiced Me, take a break every now and then. At the risk of sounding really dramatic, sometimes this voice gets so loud and so negative, it feels like the only viable solutions are death or alcohol. That’s how difficult it is for me to silence it. Luckily, I haven’t resorted to either of those activities.

Sobriety has forced me to find other ways to “check out” at times like this—whether it’s through a social media vortex (my preferred trifecta is Facebook, Instagram and Twitter), sugar, baking more sugar, frozen pizza, Domino’s pizza, television, working out obsessively, overbooking my calendar with social plans so I won’t be alone, reading Eckhart Tolle even though I can’t always turn off my ego to comprehend a book about turning off my ego—you get the idea. The problem is, lately none of it is working. I still feel shitty. I still feel like I’m a failure as a writer and a stand-up comic—even though I am consistently paid to do both on a regular basis. I don’t give a crap about being single right now (thank God), but that’s also usually a symptom of my unrest—obsessing about when I’m going to meet the dude I’m going to marry and whether I will still be able to have kids by then. A lot of the worry is around thinking I need to achieve or acquire certain external things in order to be okay. When in reality, as I’ve been told over and over again, I’ve got to find peace and happiness within myself, then I can always find a way to be “okay,” regardless of my external circumstances.

Damn, I’m pretty evolved for a chick who just talked about calling herself a loser!

When I finally decided to quit drinking, I had to find a program of recovery—a set of tools, if you will—in order to stay sober. Otherwise, I would have just been white knuckling until the next time I gave in and drank again (as was my pattern throughout the course of several years). I chose a 12-step program, and part of that program is meditating—like, you gotta do it if you really wanna be workin’ those steps. Still, I keep not doing it. If my mind gets too loud or I’m feeling the kind of stress only wine used to quench, I shove gummy bears in my mouth or crawl under the covers with Gossip Girl on Netflix (What an emotional journey! Highly recommend that series. Lots of pretty people.) Except now I’m sick of binge watching TV and sugary candy kind of makes me feel worse, mentally and physically. So basically I’ve come to the point where, according to many trusted resources in my life, I am going to have to start meditating to survive. I resisted it for so long, it definitely feels like some sort of last resort. But if I don’t learn to quiet my brain now, the next stop is death or booze.

People have been telling me to meditate for years, but I always had an excuse. One of the comedians I respect and admire the most is Jerry Seinfeld. A friend recently sent me an interview between Jerry (I call him Jerry, even though we’ve never met, I think he’d want it this way) and Bob Roth all about Jerry’s experience with Transcendental Meditation. Whenever I’ve heard Jerry refer to his TM practice, I always assumed it was something he took up long after he was rich and famous, milling about his palatial Long Island estate. Why not meditate? He’s got no worries so of course he has time to just “be.” I told myself I don’t have that luxury since I’ve got too much to actively worry about and so many problems I need to aggressively “think” my way out of.

Then I learned that Jerry has been meditating since the 1970s, long before he became one of the most successful stand-up comedians of all time. Dammit, not being rich was my out! Jerry claims TM has given him what he deems the most precious gift an adult can get—boundless energy. I still want to use his financial status as an excuse for why he can claim energy is more valuable than money, but also, I can’t really argue with the guy. More energy can definitely translate to the ability to work harder, and in turn, earn more money. Jerry strikes again.

I let a good, long-time meditating friend lead me in a 30-minute guided meditation on the first day of my new zen journey. It was 10-minute increments of focusing on various things (breath and sensations in every part of my body, for example) and it was kind of painful for me to sit still that long and just be with myself. But that night, I went to an outdoor moving screening with a DJ and danced more freely than I have since getting sober. I was shocked by how much fun I had. Dancing without inhibitions has been what I missed most about drinking but maybe I’ve found a loophole for being able to do it in sobriety. Or maybe I just got lucky that day.

When I’ve dabbled with meditation in the past, I found podcasts that were guided—usually themed around tapping into your guardian angel (not exaggerating for comedic effect, Google it) or finding your true purpose. But I’ve been instructed to attempt to do them without a guide, in silence, with nothing but the space between my ears—which, as we’ve established, is usually a real shit show. As I write this, I am on day four of this new habit I’m trying to build. I am determined to make a meditation practice part of my routine—like I would exercise, preparing healthy meals, reading my daily positive affirmations while making a gratitude list, going to 12-step meetings, yoga and therapy—that’s right, don’t even try to step to my self-care regimen, y’all.

I hope I will eventually learn to live peacefully in my own brain. I better; it’s not like I’m getting another one to try out any time soon.

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2 Comments

  1. Always good to read your material.

    Meditation.. I was just speaking on the first part of Step 4 “resentments” at a Big Book 12 Step thing Sat night. I mention this because for those of us who are committed to the work as it is laid out in the AA Big Book find that early on in the process, our own conception of a Spiritual power sufficient to make an approach to the 12 Step Spiritual way of life is suggested. So what does this have to do with Step 4? Resentments? Well, for me? Without the willingness to accept Spiritual help I wouldn’t have been able to see them, to get down to causes and conditions of my selfishness and fear. So before I could get into meditation of any kind that wasn’t just some type of intellectual cure or psychotherapy approach. I needed to make a beginning and this beginning was simple willingness. Willingness to believe. For me it wasn’t too far fetched to believe there was some kind of governing force underlying the totality of all things. Call it a Higher Power.

    Developing this relationship has been slow at times while other enlightening experiences have allowed me to grow in understanding and effectiveness with a big life changing flash. As if flipping a switch I was one way and now another. Either way, the willingness is there. I am willing to believe. Me, not the group or guide, guru, leader.. Just me, my Higher Power, my thing. No human interaction, no give and take, no expectations, no instant gratification from people who like me or validate me. I simply wish to be a part of this thing, this Spiritual thing.

    As I move about the AA Big Book 12 Steps, I ask this power to take the pen and put it to paper as I write my 4th. I ask for guidance to be thorough and honest in my 5th. I am humbled in 6 and 7, letting my Higher Power know that I know roughly what my trouble is and am willing to surrender it for a better way. 8 and 9 ? I ask to see myself as I have been and for the courage to clean up my mess of selfishness and fear that has expanded throughout my life. 10, I am willing to monitor my own behavior. I have the courage and strength to watch for my defective character and when it shows itself take action immediately rather than face another bout of selfish destruction and my ability to justify myself by making others pay for how I feel, bringing them to my level.

    So now what meditation? I don’t even know what people mean by the word. I know for me? I have been prepped over the 12 Steps to grow in understanding and effectiveness in the Spiritual world. Can I stop and ponder? Ask for direction? Yes. Can I find the beauty of the open ocean or peaceful mountains without my self destructing mind searching for stimulus? Yes.

    To me? Meditation is a way of life. As soon as I place people and their directions before it, it no longer exists. Will I get what they get? Will I feel as they feel? Better? Worse? The human element with all it’s expectations and assumptions must be left behind. It’s simple willingness, simple willingness to believe. It’s my thing just as it is your thing.

    Anyway be good to yourself that others may benefit. Thanks for the read.

  2. Great post Mary! I reached a point some months back where I was actually berating and stressing myself out because I kept THINKING…..I SHOULD get into meditation but week after week would go by full of best intentions and no action. This inability to get off my ass and embrace a practice that should calm my monkey mind and lead to less reactivity contributed to me being more reactive, restless and irritable in general. Finally I downloaded a meditation app, read some blogs and slowly waded in. I’m still real streaky but at least I get some 10-20 min sessions in a handful of times per week and I see how it can be helpful. It’s also ironic you mention Jerry Seinfeld and TM. About a week ago I stumbled on Alec Baldwin’s “Here’s the Thing” podcast episode w/Jerry and the TM topic came up at the end. I too was surprised to hear that Jerry started his meditation practice long before fame (and fortune). Live peacefully in our own brains some day……what a concept!

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About Author

Mary Patterson Broome is the Editor-in-Chief of RehabReviews.com and After Party Magazine and has also written for Women's Health Magazine Online, AOL and WE TV. She has been performing stand-up comedy at clubs, colleges, casinos and festivals across the country and internationally for over a decade. Originally from southern Alabama, she now calls Los Angeles home.