But Wait, There’s More!

Robot Brain

“I want to defy
The logic of all sex laws
Let the handcuffs slip off your wrists
I’ll let you be my chaperon
At the halfway home
I’m a full grown man
But I’m not afraid to cry”

“Sexx Laws” Beck

Okay, last month, why did I see a book on a website that had nothing to do with what I was searching, but I stopped what I was doing and reserved it on my library app? The title was something about miracles. I don’t believe in miracles. I’m not looking for a miracle. It pops up on my tablet a couple weeks later and I immediately start listening to it and it’s specifically geared towards women who want to lose weight and find a relationship. Do I stop? No. I keep listening. The first chapter is about recognizing your fears and figuring out which ones are realistic and how to work it. That’s what I was looking for! I finished the first chapter and didn’t need the book anymore.

Not good enough? The woman I met last Saturday online in the meditation session who said was going to send me a whatsapp invite then I figured she blew me off. Yesterday my phone went off and she sent me the invite. Later I got an email from her through the website telling me she sent me the invite. Okay, that’s normal. But why did she finish it with her full name and underneath that is says she is a LADC? It was meditation session. Nobody mentioned anything about alcohol or drugs.

[ Not so brief interlude: While I was typing it was time to log into the zoom meditation I’ve been waiting for because it sounded more my style. There were 5 people including the instructor. I’m the only new person and she introduced me and I said something short. She explains what the practice was going be today and asked if there were any questions. I didn’t have a question but I had something to say. I didn’t want to say it but you know I have to say it, right? “That’s weird, you just listed off 5 things I’ve been working on this summer…”, (I don’t want to say it but you know I have to say it, right?) “Synchronicty” She was right into it. She wasn’t a hippie. She was young and studied the neuroscience behind meditation, which is why I chose the group. That’s great. She started the meditation and the first sentence she mentioned rumination, which wasn’t in the list of things she stated. Now I’m all fucked up. I can’t meditate. I can’t wait for this to end because I want to tell everyone now.

Finally, it’s over and she asks for questions or comments. I have a comment! “It happened again. You mentioned ruminating and I didn’t tell you that an hour before this started I googled, ‘How to stop ruminating’ and of course meditation came up but I’ve done at least ten groups and nobody mentioned it before.” She started talking about the two areas in the brain that are involved in ruminating and one simple trick is to look out the window at the horizon and it helps. I told her that’s funny because my favorite place is the ocean and when I can see far into the distance all the shit in my head stops.

The guy who looks like he looks like he might always look like he just rolled out of bed jumps in and says, I don’t usually tell people this but I won the national award in ruminating. “That’s only because I didn’t enter the contest.”(me) “There is always next year.”, “Well, look out, I’m a perfectionist so I’ll be prepared.” Then he got pretty funny and everyone jumped in. They all live in different parts of the country but they all live close to the ocean like me and it’s there favorite place. The woman I forgot was in the room because she had her camera off and never said a word, couldn’t contain herself and bursts into her story about living near the beach. What the fuck is going on here?

The guy who just rolled out of bed said his favorite part of the beach was the waves crashing on the rocks, he went on for a long time, I forget some but gist was, mountains are great, but they just sit there, Wave are always changing, each one is different, they’re like people talking to you. I tell him, shit’s gettin’ weird now, cause I grew up on those rocks and when I was a kid my favorite thing to do was walk to the end of the breakwater until the highest, highest tide and dare the waves to knock me off until I had to run back jumping from rock to rock to save my life!

I don’t even remember the rest of it. They were all talking over each other remembering all these wonderful things and I’m just sitting there listening. I started out afraid to say anything because I didn’t want to sound crazy and now they are all crazy! Not crazy but all excited! I kept them there until 20 minutes past the hour. She forgot what time it was and that’s her profession. She teaches mindfulness and the only reason she was on Zoom was Covid. I guess I found my tribe.] communitymindfulnessproject.org/daily-meditations

Phew! So is this other whatsapp chick trying to drum up business? I met her on some Buddhist meditation I’m not really into. The description didn’t say anything about substance abuse. Nobody in the group talked about substances. Why is she telling me she is a LADC? Am I supposed to say something to her? Like? “Yeah, 12 hours after I met you did an online SMART meeting for the first time.”?

I wanted to go for a walk but now I’m afraid to go outside! I don’t know what is going to happen. I’m pretty sure something is going to happen. I’ll tell you later.

Meditation by Distraction

Rubic's cube

I stumbled upon this technique after my weight ballooned to over 260lbs. I ignored the warning on my medication that listed weight gain as the main side effect. Instead I went to the gym. I didn’t really know what to do at the gym since I had been naturally athletic my whole life before I started taking meds. I knew walking was a good form of exercise so I started with the treadmill. That is where I accidentally found my kind of mindfulness meditation. My therapist had been trying to get me into mindfulness but I couldn’t grasp the concept. My brain was too chaotic.

Here is how it happened. I set the treadmill at a faster than normal walking speed with a slight incline and doing that caused me to exert myself to the point of sweating my balls off. Even though the gym had air conditioning. I also had to concentrate on walking fast enough so I wouldn’t slide off the end of the treadmill. While I was doing that I listened to my favorite playlist with earphones in at a pretty good volume. In front of me were 10 televisions suspended from the ceiling in a row. They were all muted with subtitles and I would pick a channel to read. Along with all this were the other people working out. I didn’t like that there was only one other fat guy there in the pretty large gym. A lot of people seemed to go there to socialize. They didn’t need to work out, they were in perfect shape. But it was good eye candy for during the television commercials.

With all the above happening at the same time, I would get into a zone. There was so much external noise it took away the noise in my head. It seems unorthodox but with the treadmill in the back of the room and all the action going on inside my body and directly in front of me, I could really focus. I would do the treadmill for about 45 minutes then switch to the weight machines. I did light weights but concentrated on the muscle movements and the music. It usually took me about 45 minutes to do all the machines I liked. Then it was back to the treadmill and another 45 minutes of pure distraction. I forgot to mention that during this gym phase I was manic so I never got tired. Lucky me.

After the gym I would drive home and I could enjoy about 3 hours of peace. I was calm enough to eat lunch and sit still on the couch. I didn’t know I was practicing mindfulness at the time (I did associate it with a kind of Zen) but it was the only time in my life that any form of meditation worked for me.

I enjoyed all this for about 6 months until I had to move and could no longer get to a gym. At least not the cheap one at $10 a month. I was still manic and still felt the urge to keep moving. Luckily I had a bicycle to burn off some excess energy. It wasn’t until I started doing long 2 hour bike trips that I discovered it was happening again. I would get a respite from the voices and be calm enough to take care of myself for a few hours.

Biking is different than the treadmill but I have a lot of the same methods; just different distractions. I have to concentrate on my leg muscles propelling me forward, keeping the bike upright and avoiding cars. I live near the seacoast so there is a lot of wind to struggle against. Because of all the traffic in my area I don’t dare to wear earphones but I have a constant earworm repeating in my head. This is all enough to give me the distraction I need.

I could never do the traditional forms of meditation where you focus inward. It caused intense anxiety and made everything in my brain worse. Now that I am no longer manic and slightly on the depressed side, I only ride about once a week to my daughter’s house. But that is a 2 hour round trip and I get the extra external stimulus of talking to people and the happiness of being around my daughter. These days are markedly different than my usual routine of just sitting around the house. After a day of riding I find I need less of my anxiety medication as my mood is naturally lifted.

Writing this with music or television in the background is another form of mindfulness I practice while I am stuck at home. It only works in the moment and doesn’t give me a lasting effect. I need a lot of external distractions to get me into the zone. It seems like it doesn’t make any sense. Everything I’ve been taught about meditation has been about being quiet and focusing inward. I don’t know why but I never get a better natural calm than I do after these exercises.

If this wasn’t long enough for you, I found another blog post from Amy with The Bridge that explains it better than I do.