Meditation … Again

I’ve written often about how important meditation is to me. You can search for it using the search window on the mobile app, or you can click on the word “meditation” in the column on the right in the desktop version of this blog.

In therapy Tuesday, I talked about work-related stress and how much it was impacting my life. We talked about it, and we talked about how to take away its power. My psychologist knows how important meditation is to me, and he asked if I ever meditated about specific things. I told him yes, so he suggested I meditate about releasing the power stress has over me.

I tired it, and a mantra came to me. I repeat this mantra often now, and it has a very good effect. It is

I have faith. I don’t know what’s going to happen in my work life. I’m not going to pretend that I’m completely fine with not knowing, but I’m willing to sit with the uncertainty and the ambiguity. I’m willing to sit.

It has had an amazing result. I feel lighter. I have slept really well two nights in a row.

Meditation is not as daunting as it sounds. Sit in a chair and concentrate on your breathing. Your thoughts will wander. Try to be gentle with yourself, and don’t get upset with the wandering thoughts. Simply allow the wandering thoughts to have their space, and then gently return your attention to your breath.

When your thoughts wander, you’re not failing. It’s completely normal. Be gentle, and return your attention to your breath. It does not matter how many times you have to return your attention to your breath. You can do it every other breath, if necessary.

Be gentle and breathe.

In order to release negativity, here’s what I do during meditation. I get a feeling for where the negativity is in my body. Sometimes it’s in my stomach, sometimes in my chest, and sometimes in my head. Once I know where it is, I picture its shape. With that shape and location in mind, I then ask an angel to remove it, and I picture it being taken out.

The beauty of this little visualization is that I can repeat it as often as I want. I haven’t failed when the negativity returns. That’s normal. I just release it again.

Be gentle and breathe and release.

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Walking Through It

In my last post, I wrote about my recent break up. I’m still experiencing varied moods due to the end of that romantic relationship. I have good days and bad ones.

I’m happy to say I’m using the tools I have, and they help a great deal.

My most important tool is meditation. I am able to release a lot of difficult emotions very quickly and thoroughly by doing some simple meditative techniques I’ve learned over the years. I wrote about one technique in that last post.

I’ve used medication, too. I have some medicine I can take for anxiety. I have used them occasionally. I used them daily just after the break up.

I’ve spoken to my therapist often, and that helps give me clarity.

I’ve chatted with my best friend multiple times each day. He’s a rock in this situation, and I’m grateful for his love and support.

I’ve exercised a lot, too. I’ve walked and walked. I enjoy speed walking, so I do it daily these days.

I’ve been careful with what I eat. I allow myself some junk every once in a while, but I’m careful. I eat an almost completely vegetarian diet. It feels like the right thing for me to do.

I’ve been getting good sleep most nights, which is an enormous help. Sleep resets me, so I can start fresh every morning.

Yesterday was a rough day, but I used the tools, and I survived. Today feels better except for the fact I didn’t get enough sleep for some unknown reason. I’ll be fine.

I can see light at the end of the tunnel.

Release One Thing

I was reminded this morning during my meditation that I have a lot of energy swirling around me. There’s a lot happening in my life, and it’s bringing up a lot of past energy. I released a lot. I can only say that it feels really good.

It’s not as hard as it sounds. Sit and breathe in and out a few times. Try to feel wherever you may have discomfort. Imagine it as a solid object. What shape is it? Does it have a color? Is it hot or cold? How heavy is it? Now, very gently, pull it out and release it to the Universe. If it’s heavy, ask an angel to help you pull it out. Fill the space it leaves with light.

Do it with just one thing for now. Do it lovingly, gently.

Release one thing at a time. Releasing a lifetime of pent up energy will take time. Start with one.

More About Dating and Bipolar Disorder

As mentioned a month ago, I’m dating. I didn’t plan it, but I mentioned my diagnosis the first time we met. He heard me, but he didn’t say anything. I think he realizes it has an affect, because I have to be careful with how involved I allow myself to get. I have to be conscious of how much time I’m giving him and how much I’m giving my recovery by keeping the routine that my stability is based on.

(Here’s a well-read post about dating and bipolar I wrote a number of years ago.)

So that I think is the key for me as a person with bipolar disorder when I date. My first priority has to be maintaining my stability. Without it, I’m not a good partner.

My partner has a part to play, too. He gives me the space I need to follow my routine. Encouragement from him means a great deal. Words that tell me he knows I’m working on myself are like gold.

I have certain things that are vital to my recovery: meditation, medication, therapy, exercise, and sleep. He can help me most not by monitoring those activities but by praising me for doing them.

I am devoting more energy to those activities these days. I’m going to therapy weekly, because this relationship is new, and it’s bringing up a lot of stuff that needs to be dealt with. My therapist is a disinterested third party and gives me honest, impartial feedback.

I’m taking my medication as prescribed. I have a problem with my feet, so I’m not exercising. My sleep is not good, so I’m going to make an appointment with a specialist.

Meditation is the most important thing I do without a doubt. I can sit and breathe and release energy that feels like it’s weighing me down. I can clear out so much in a short session. It’s not hard or complex. A friend asked me how to do it yesterday. I explained all you have to do is create a happy place in your mind where you can go and walk around and feel stuff in your body and then release the bad stuff. It’s that simple. Close your eyes, and breathe deeply. Walk through a door to a place that you create that’s happy for you. In that place, pay attention to your body, and release anything that is uncomfortable. That’s it.

My partner can help me the most by being open and by talking a lot about how he feels about what I’m doing. It doesn’t take much. As long as I know the lines of communication are open, I can walk through almost anything. Once I feel like I’m being dictated to or preached to or not being heard, I have a very different reaction.

Dating works when both parties work on it. I do my part by maintaining my recovery first and being attentive to him second. He does his part in a very similar fashion. He cares for himself and is then attentive to me.

Walking Through It

I’m concentrating very hard on walking through one day at a time. Sometimes, it’s one step at a time.

I had an excellent meditation early this morning. I lost some of the peace when I went through some morning events. I was able to walk down to the cathedral during a short morning break. A quick meditation there brought back the calm.

Dating has turned my routines topsy turvy. I’m not reading on the bus in the morning. I’m texting him. It’s delightful, but routine helps aid stability in people with bipolar disorder. So I’m learning to live with the disruption. I’m trying to feel my way through the new energies that lack the old routines. It requires a lot of maneuvering to get through these energies.

The dance of my life has been staid for a very long time. I’m learning new dance moves, and this requires a lot of allowing. I have to allow newness to enter. I have to allow new people to come into my space. I had a very predictable set of daily habits that are bending and warping to the newnesses.

For the past week, I’ve been meditating on walking through it. I start each meditation with the intention of finding the energy to just walk. I’m walking through the new one step at a time. Just walking. Just one step. Each step does not carry the thought of the subsequent steps. Just one. Just this one. This single step.

I can breathe through this newness one step at a time. I don’t have to think about future breaths. Just this one breath. Just this one.

I’m Dating

Yes, you read that right. I’m dating. It happened quickly. I’m elated at times. Other times, I’m shaking.

The man is wonderful. We met for coffee one Saturday morning after chatting on a dating app for several days. I didn’t plan it this way, but my diagnosis came out during that first meeting, and he didn’t run screaming from the room.

He’s actually very supportive. For a week, we texted often, and we saw each other in the evenings a few times. It all got quite overwhelming for me. I was having a lot of trouble concentrating, and I had to leave work early one day because I was simply not able to function. Luckily, I was able to see my therapist that day. The result has been that we’re being more careful about texting, and I’m doing more grounding exercises during my morning meditations.

The grounding exercises are key. They give me a stable foundation to each day. In my meditations, I’ve been concentrating on staying stable just one day at a time. I’m trying not to think past today.

I’ve been enjoying myself a lot. It’s been a lot of fun honestly. I’ve been alone for a very long time, so this all feels so new. I’m just walking through it one step at a time. I just keep walking.

Healing the Wound

When I remember my drinking days, the pain is what comes up first. There was tremendous pain. It was pervasive. It seeped into every corner of my being, and it oozed out of me in all my relationships. I was capable of happiness, but it was always fleeting. It was never enduring.

I drank for one simple reason: it gave me relief from the pain. What I did not understand was that the relief was fleeting. The drinking did not do anything to help heal the pain. The wound remained. The drinking was a kind of Band Aid on my wound.

It’s no secret that my wound was my warped perceptions of what it meant to be gay. The ideas inculcated in me about homosexuality were not compatible with living a happy life. I grew up convinced that god hated gay people, and that gays were beyond god’s grace. I also had good reason to fear ostracism from my family if they knew I was gay. Finally, society allowed violence against gay people. Some portions of society even condoned it preaching that gays were beneath contempt and unworthy of safety and fulfilling lives.

I became an alcoholic, because I got relief from my pain when I drank. The pain was so great that I needed a lot of alcohol to relieve it, and I needed it daily.

The day came, however, when the pain became more than the alcohol could cover. That day I faced the fact that alcohol no longer worked. That day I also discovered that quitting drinking was not a simple matter. I am grateful that I found AA. With the help of the 12 Steps and with the love from a sponsor and other members of the program, I found a way to live without alcohol.

Sadly, the pain was still there. The wound went untreated. I lost the Band Aid that alcohol provided. My next course of action was to find a way to heal the real wound. I am grateful that I found therapy as a young adult. I continued it through the years, and it proved invaluable for healing my wound.

Meditation also helped me slowly change my perceptions of what being gay meant. I learned I am not an abomination. I learned god loves me. Most importantly, I learned to love myself.

Gradually, I healed.

And I discovered that when my wound healed, drinking became unnecessary. It’s not even the slightest issue. I go to gay bars these days and feel nothing. I have no compulsion to drink alcohol.

AA gave me the tools to stay away from alcohol, but the AA I was exposed to did not direct me to the tools I needed to heal the wound that caused me to drink. The AA that I was part of treated the drinking as if it was the wound. It taught me that not drinking was enough.

But it wasn’t enough. I needed to heal the wound. I had to find the ways to heal outside the rooms of AA.

I doubt I’m alone. I am confident when I say that alcoholics drink because it provides relief from a pain-causing wound. We need to stop drinking because it is a destructive way of treating the wound. It does not heal. It masks only.

We are doing a disservice by telling people that the pain will stop when the drinking stops. This wasn’t the case for me, and I know many people who agree. We need to do our part to help individuals stop drinking, but we also need to actively direct them to the places where they can heal their wounds.

After 18 years of sobriety, I’ve seen countless people return to drinking after a period of sobriety, and I am convinced it’s because they could not find a way to heal their wound. They return to using the only Band Aid they knew that gave them any amount of relief.

It’s not enough to stop drinking if we ignore the reason the drinking started. The drinking is only a Band Aid. It is not the wound.

Again, we need to actively help individuals find a way to heal their wounds.

[I have been thinking about this for a long time. I’m reluctant to share it, but I have experienced my words reaching others who feel the same but are unable to speak for various reasons, so I’ll share.]