For those of you familiar with meditation, specifically mindfulness meditation – although any meditation is true of what I'm about to speak – you'll no doubt understand that it is a resolution for living now; not the past, nor the future, but the present moment – also known as being grounded.
Mindfulness is a technique where a person acknowledges everything around them at that very moment; where they’re at, how the clothes feel on the body, the weight of the body on the seat or ground, the wind in their hair, their own breath, how the food tastes and feels, the birds, a rippling brook, people talking in the distance, the typing of a keyboard, or a car driving by – being acutely aware. This is grounded.
Mindful meditation is, in my opinion, one of the easiest forms of meditation, and can take from sixty-seconds, to as long as one needs (I have done it for as long as an hour, though very tough indeed). Typically, I use mindful meditation at any moment of the day when I begin to feel restless, unanswered, or leery. This could be pressure at work, being in a hurry to get to another location, feeling out of control, or Left Side and Right Side arguments – it doesn’t matter, mindfulness can bring me right back into the moment of reality, into the moment of now.
That is a very basic, loose explanation, and one that I feel will suffice for this discussion.
But today, I learned something new about what mindfulness can do, something I had no idea could even happen (or, I never really thought about it, anyway).
As you know, AF is on a very long trip. We prepped her car for this trip. The oil was changed, fluids topped off, tire pressure set, windshield washed with a special rain guard so rain would slip off the glass, car washed, vacuumed, and even burned out fuses had been replaced – with spares to boot. She was good to go.
But shortly after she started, she ran into an issue with her vehicle (one of the very issues we were trying to avoid to begin with). Part of the problem was, she was only about a third of the way to her destination, and she was now on her last “fix” for the said issue.
“Holy shit! I knew this was going to happen!”
“Well, idiot! You had a chance to get more, you just didn’t!”
“How was I supposed to know?! Who cares?! How are we going to get there now and help with this?”
“You could just leave your job, dummy – she’s only about nine or ten hours away right now.”
“Ya think the truck will make it?...”
As usual, Left Side and Right Side began bantering, and I suddenly found myself racing down the road to rescue her, bringing with me thirty or forty “fixes” so she wouldn’t run into this problem again – and yet, I hadn’t left the building. I became so agitated, that I couldn’t settle down, and my stomach began to churn – I was physically getting ill.
“How are we going to fix this problem from so far away?”
“What if she gets hit by a truck while waiting?”
“What if the car catches fire?”
“What if a highway bandit kidnaps her?”
“… What if…”
“… … What if…”
So what if? Where if? How if?
For starters, none of that was happening. She had a fuse go out. A fuse, for which she had a spare. She was not getting hit by a truck, the car was not on fire, and the “fix” she had installed in minutes. I was tripping over a non-existent future, something that wasn’t even happening at the moment. Besides, I simply can’t change what might be.
Secondly, even if those things were to happen, what could I do about it ten hours away? For that matter, what could I do for her right now, from where I am at?
I could do nothing for her, save say a prayer and then trust and have faith. How was I supposed to calm down? I had worried that something bad was going to happen so much that I had become physically ill from it. I felt sick to my stomach and wanted to vomit. I entirely helpless.
“Stupid, now you’re just going to leave her stranded!”
“Make a call!”
“Call the insurance!”
“Call a tow truck!”
“Don’t just sit there!”
And then – I remembered.
I placed my hands down on the desk, set my feet square on the ground, and breathed in “One,” and out “Two,” in “Three,” out “Four…” I grounded. I was there, in my office, not racing down the road. She wasn’t hit and she wasn’t on fire. She was, in all reality, doing pretty damn good.
THIS is what I discovered today:
Mindful meditation doesn’t just bring me back to now, it also helps me live right here. I cannot do anything from where I am right now, not anymore than I can do anything about something that was in the past, or the guessed-future. In the present moment, if what is happening is not within my reasonable reach – then I simply cannot do anything about it.
I sat there and meditated for a few minutes, and opened my eyes. I was still a bit agitated, but I began to relax. My breathing had settled, the knot in my stomach had come undone, the shaking disappeared, and I became calm. The fear of not being able to control the situation disappeared. I knew the situation was entirely out of my control.
This is something all of us addicts/alcoholics must learn to go through; learning to live not only in the present moment, but in the present location -- aka, grounding ourselves.
That’s why meditation wins out for me, because while prayer is reaching out and asking for help and touching a situation through the strength and power of our HP, it is the meditation -- the LISTENING -- that enables us to find the peace and serenity in something that we have ZERO CONTROL over.
Stay grounded, my friends; feel the here and now.