Thursday, May 22, 2008

whirled peas

If you've ever done any meditation (and if you haven't, please return to the 20th century), then you know that often, visualization is part of the deal. You're supposed to make a picture in your head of happiness, or safety, or calm, or some such fantasy, whatever it looks like to you. 

I've never been able to do that. Once, a Chinese healer dude, trying to guide me through a meditation practice, asked me to picture a peaceful place and insert myself there, and my internal dialogue went something like this:

Me: Umm..... How about the beach in the Virgin Islands where I went on family vacations when I was girl?
Me: A goddamn beach? How unoriginal can you get? 
Me: But it was a really nice beach. Remember those thin yellow rafts, and how clear the water was, and the way the sun reflected off of it?
Me: Sigh. If only I had applied sunscreen instead of baking myself for hours every day, my skin wouldn't be the wrinkly shoe leather that it is today.
Me: It was a nice. Fucking. Beach.
Me: It is a totally obvious. Fucking. Beach. 
Me: Do you have any brilliant ideas?
Me: What about a forest? 
Me: Oh, a forest. There's something no one's ever thought of before. And besides, what forest? 
Me: Some generic forest. I don't know, Austria. Austria has forests, doesn't it?
Me: Yeah, but it's too cold there. 

It wasn't relaxing at all. 

Another time, an energy worker asked me to come up with an image of comfort, and I was like, "I don't dog?" I loved my dog very much, but she didn't feel like the picture of comfort to me. She was kind of smelly, actually. Yet this woman was standing there waiting, the clock was ticking, so that's what I told her. 

Then there was the hypnotherapist who guided me along a river and through a lovely field filled with tall grass. It was a total relief because she was doing the describing, except at the end of the field, apparently, there was a rainbow, and then she asked me to tell her what colors the rainbow had. And because I completed third grade, I knew the colors were Roy G. Biv, but that obviously wasn't supposed to be my personal rainbow's color scheme, otherwise she wouldn't have asked. But I just couldn't get Roy out of my head.

By the way, what colors is your rainbow? 

But the weirdest thing happened to me a couple of months ago. In one of about 29 million attempts to figure out how to control my reactivity and, essentially, not be such a crazed bitch so much of the time, an image came to me, out of the blue. 

I started to see my anger and all my other feelings as something outside of me, instead of a part of me. These emotions were hanging down in front of me like stalactites inside a cave--big, heavy shapes that I could look at, and walk around, and sometimes had to duck under to keep from smacking right into. It's a crude, simple picture, it's not going to win any awards for artistry, but it worked for me. With it, I began to understand that I could separate from my feelings rather than letting them control me. 

I still lose my shit on a regular basis, but whereas I used to fume and brood and rehash arguments with new and improved comebacks for hours and days beyond, at least now, after the loss of shit, I can sit quietly and envision my special place with its dangly feelings, and I can see myself moving around them, and then that's exactly what I do. 

That's progress, people.


family-of-five said...

that's really good. I'm going to try that (the stalagtites, not the generic beach).

Paida said...

I asked Pablo's kindergarten teacher a similar question about controlling anger and he told me to look for some kind of physical trigger that happens before I loose it.

Seemed like a good idea only problem is I keep forgetting.

Jessica said...

Thank you so much for writing this.
I'm on my 3rd month of rehashing a bad, bad end to a long, close friendship. I'm going to have to put those lost words that I can't say somewhere. Thanks for the ideas and hope!