Stumbling out of mindfulness

Week 1 of the Palouse mindfulness program was a revelation. I segued into week two feeling like my world was transforming, excited by new insights, feeling great about myself, excited with the progress I was making. I went to therapy and had perhaps my most productive session ever.

And then the next day, I decided to skip my sitting meditation. And then I skipped it again. And again. I realized that I was losing momentum and I could feel negativity and self-doubt creeping back in. So I re-engaged. But then I missed five more days.

On top of it, I fell into a mini fugue state. Avoidant depression. I ignored my to-do list. I couldn’t rally to do anything but the bare minimum. I wasn’t showering. I wasn’t laughing. I wasn’t happy. I withdrew from the world and into my phone.

About a dozen times a day I had the thought “I know what would bring me out of this. Just one round of sitting meditation.” But I couldn’t bring myself to do it. I didn’t want to do it. It was like I wanted to stay numb. Like waking up last week was too much and I needed numb time to be okay.

It’s a scary feeling to realize that you are miserable and in pain, and you know how to heal yourself, but that you don’t want to do it.

Today I woke up and tried to be more gentle with myself. It helped. I was able to meditate again and reconnect with my goals. The first 20 minutes of meditation my brain was like a jackrabbit, bouncing insanely with a cacophony of noise. My eyes, which I had closed gently, were pulsating and ripping around their sockets like someone experiencing a nightmare. I tried to observe them without fear or judgment and focus on the breath.

And 20 minutes in, everything calmed and dropped away and I felt my brain emerging from the chaos like a beam of light through the fog. It had a sheepish quality to it, like a pouting dog that’s just eaten something from the trash. It was almost a little embarrassed that it let everything get so out of control and that it had to recede.

But it makes me wonder – why did that episode happen? What brought it on? What brought me out? As mindful as I tried to be during the episode, I don’t have answers to those questions.

I suppose what mindfulness would try to say about it is that I shouldn’t worry so much about the ‘Why’. It just is. It just happened. It wasn’t the end of the world, and I can/should accept that it occurred  with loving kindness towards myself. I have tools now, to uplift myself and to help my kinder self emerge. What I need to do is find out what is preventing me from wielding them.

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