One cat lay quietly nearby with zen-like stillness while I meditated this morning. The other cat jumped up on a table and lunged at a dangly snowman ornament hanging from a chandelier directly above my meditation spot. His aim is good, though he lacks thumbs, and this is the only thing that saved him and me, not to mention the poor chandelier. I broke pose to scoop him up and scold and nuzzle his so-soft head.
It’s not like he’d roused me from a state of nirvana. I’d been thinking “wow, 10 minutes is soooo long.” While I was periodically remembering to return to the breath, I hadn’t practiced meditation since last spring and my mind was an unruly mess. To call it monkey chatter would imply a massive hall of laryngytic monkeys. These monkeys were howling.
This meditation thing is going to take time and practice.
Perhaps coincidentally, perhaps not, Jenna from Drinking to Distraction recently sent a copy of her new book by the same name. Jenna’s was one of the first blogs I followed sober, and what drew me to her then was her openness about staying sober without the 12 steps. Her approach feels holistic and her bottom high, and both of these things appealed to me then and now. In fact, I found myself nodding in agreement throughout much of her 82-page book.
It was a light and thoroughly satisfying read. She touched on all the struggles I remember about identifying as an alcoholic in the first place. She perfectly described those early firsts of sobriety – the tense family gatherings, the awkward dinners with old party friends, the dry dates. She wrote with raw honesty and self-awareness in a way that at times reminded me of Caroline Knapp, the highest compliment I could pay.
Her story was about the common struggles we all go through once we give up drinking. The initial obsession…the turn to other less punishing distractions which eventually assume addictive proportions…and, best of all, the gradual turnaround and healing that comes with time and consistently healthier decisions. It’s uncanny how similar the process and payoff is no matter your background or bottom, and reading Jenna’s book made me feel a little less alone. That is always a beautiful thing.
Back to meditation. Jenna touches on the ways meditation freed her from some of that oh-so-familiar worry and pain we feel when we give up the drink but are left with ourselves. She describes the discomfort and challenges of meditation in the beginning, and also the rewards that come with continued practice.
As we say in recovery (and at many a 12 step meeting), I want what she has. She inspired me to try meditation again and this morning I jumped back in. And the cat jumped in the chandelier. This should be pretty fun.