Yesterday, I was on my after-lunch walk, heading south on Palatine, when I noticed up ahead of me, on 65th street, a march was going on.
You see, I have issues with groups. PTSD actually. People in groups, shouting, being angry or violent, trigger my PTSD. It’s even worse now since I saw the video of the riot in downtown Seattle with the destruction of businesses and the fire bombing of cars. And it’s even more worse after I had to take the bus into downtown Seattle to deal with a misbehaving server and seeing all the boarded up buildings. It’s just too much. There must be a better way.
And people wonder why I tend to scream bloody murder when I’m startled.
So, my brain saw that march, and lost it.
For years I tried to meditate and failed miserably. It just seemed too complicated what with the special pillows, keeping the back straight, weird visualizations, and the rules. Plus, I just wasn’t good at it.
But still, I just knew that I needed to meditate.
I was taking Usher’s Master Class on masterclass.com and he talked about meditation and what it did for him. He made it sound much simpler than I’d been thinking about it. Then he recommended HeadSpace.
Now, HeadSpace is a little pricy, but there is a lot of content to it. Many sessions dealing with things like self-esteem, happiness, productivity, and sleep. So, I installed it on my phone and started with the free meditations.
Finally! A way to meditate in a simple, stressless way! I bought my subscription and off I went!
But then I had another problem. All the meditations talked about sitting up straight in a chair or on the floor. Well, I have 5 herniated discs and I don’t do a lot of sitting because it hurts when I do. In an average 24-hour period, I’m either standing or lying down 85% of the day. The only time I sit is to eat meals and to watch Netflix.
This could have been a deal breaker, but this time I just said FUCK IT! I’m going to lay down and I’ve been laying down ever since. I’m not sure why we’re supposed to sit like that anyway. If it’s to make us uncomfortable so that we can practice sitting in the discomfort, well I already have a lot of pains and itches. I don’t need to sit to create more!
It’s been over a year and I’ve been meditating every day. Okay, twice I missed it, but even so, I’m doing pretty damn good! When I started, all I really wanted to do was meditate and I ended up meditating 40 minutes in the morning and 40 in the evening. That fell to 20 minutes in the morning. About 2 weeks ago I added 20 minutes to the evening because COVID and all the hullabaloo was really stressing me out.
The meditations talk about the mind as though it’s one mind. We’re “quieting the mind” and finding “quiet confidence.”
Yeah, that’s not how I experience it.
For me, once I started finding that quiet confidence, I found that I had two minds. It was like being a schizophrenic. Or having multiple personalities. Or just having two people, one rational and the other insane, trying to live in my noodle.
They are so different that they talk to each other. Well, the rational one tries to talk to the insane one. Sometimes the insane one listens.
When I read my non-fiction books, it’s usually the rational one reading. But sometimes, the insane one is there too, listening in. She really wants to stop being insane. If I’m reading something that might help, I can feel her behind my eyes like a child, listening, hoping for a miracle.
It’s weird, but it doesn’t distress me much. In fact, I would love it if the rational one could somehow take over. Life for me has been a big struggle, physically and mentally. It’s exhausting. It’s part of the reason I keep telling people I wish I could become a psychopath. It’s just too much to deal with. If I were a psychopath, I wouldn’t have to care so much.
But, having a rational, meditative mind take over would be so much better.
Over 10 years ago, I lost the capacity for tolerating alcohol. It’s a much bigger story than I want to get into here, but the final straw happened in a gay bar in Seattle that caters to men. A pitcher of beer, 4 over-poured long island ice teas, and a little crush on a man I could never have resulted in an alcohol poisoned Karin. I don’t drink so much anymore.
But still, I’ve got issues and I like to self-medicate a bit.
Then a miracle happened! Washington State legalized marijuana! You could go to the pot store and buy whatever you wanted! I had to pay sales tax on it!
It had been a long time since I’d smoked the green, and the stuff I bought was pretty tame. It relaxed me without getting me really high.
I really didn’t understand reality. And it was a good thing I had two minds to help me through it.
The Art Party
I went to a party where someone was showing off their art works in their studio. There were lots of people there I knew and didn’t know. It was quite the party.
I ended up in the hallway with about 6 others because someone had brought a joint with them. I had 2 puffs. I swear, it was only two puffs!
I started to lose time. I’d wake up to find myself in a deep conversation with someone and have no clue what we were talking about.
There I am, wondering how the hell I ended up in the middle of this conversation, and my mind loses it. In comes the rational mind, “you’re losing time.” Oh, okay, that makes sense, but why the fuck am I losing time? I only had two puffs! “Okay, calm down, just be quiet until you figure out what’s going on.”
Side Note: When I had a colonoscopy and a endoscopy years ago, I also lost time. That’s why you need to be supervised after the procedures. I hated it! One moment I’m in the doctor’s office, and suddenly I’m walking down the street, and suddenly I’m in a Mexican restaurant looking at the menu. I do not like to lose time.
Next thing I know I’m talking to Jeffrey, telling him that I think that joint was laced with something.
“Karin, it was Marijuana.”
Well, yeah, but I have more than two puffs when I indulge in MY stash. Something is just not right. Deep down inside, I was convinced that there was a little something extra in that joint.
I kept losing time. Finally, my rational mind decided I needed to get out of there. I don’t quite remember how I got home.
I have chronic respiratory issues, and my rational mind finally told myself, “Self! No more smoking the ganga. You need another method!”
So, I went to the pot store and got myself some edibles.
I went home and ate one. The trouble soon began.
I was trying to watch Lucifer, the TV series. Specifically, the “Candy Morningstar” episode.
I had to keep starting the episode over because I kept losing time. All evening, all I wanted was to be able to watch the episode and remember it! What made it worse was that Lucifer suddenly being married to this Candy person just didn’t make sense to me. I didn’t have the ability to reason out what the hell was going one. It freaked me out!
It would have been really bad if I didn’t have a rational mind tell me I was losing time, again.
And my rational mind made me accept that the joint from the art party was NOT laced with anything. It was that I didn’t understand how potent some of the strains of pot were. The stuff I was getting was really light.
Thank goodness I have a babysitter living in my noodle. And now I only eat a third of the edible.
So, if any of you go to state that has pot legalized, be sure to do your research first. This is not our teenage years where pot was mellow. No, this stuff can be a little scary. It’s more like alcohol. Take it slow. And if you’re a chocoholic, be very careful with the edibles.
One night I was on my way down to ComedySportz to watch a show. Now, I like the walk. It’s about 3 miles and goes by the park, the zoo, and some wooded areas.
I’d had a third of an edible, but I’m thinking that maybe I’d had a little more than that because I became completely paranoid during the walk.
I’m walking by the wooded area and I become convinced that I’m being followed. And I freak out.
My rational mind says, “No one is there. You’re being paranoid.”
But this time my other mind just doesn’t buy it and can’t be calmed down. It tries to calm down but the feeling was just too great.
Finally, my rational mind says, “Fine! Look around if you need too!”
Three miles of me looking around suspiciously at everything, knowing there was nothing there to worry about. It was such a relief to finally make it to ComedySportz. A place of laughter and safety.
The rational mind doesn’t always win.
There I am, a half a block away from a bunch of marchers, freaking out, frozen, in the middle of a PTSD episode. I’m a critter of habit and for this walk I’d decided to go south, and my way was blocked. I was stymied.
My rational mind chimes in with “Karin, why don’t you go back the way you came from and go around the block. Maybe they’ll be gone by the time you get to 65th again.”
Well, that sounded like a good idea. And if they’re still there, I can just go north. I turned around and went around the block. Except for a few people walking on the sidewalk with their signs down, they were gone.
My rational mind thinks that maybe someday, I’ll be able to tolerate groups of people again. My other mind just can’t see it.
Either way, I’m glad that they’re separate, at least for now. It’s nice to have someone look out for me. Thank you meditation!