(A Chapter from Telling Ed No! by Cheryl Kerrigan©) Many people had suggested meditation to me, but the thought of trying to sit quietly and do nothing sounded almost impossible. How could I try to just “be” when inside my head Ed was screaming the entire time: How could that be helpful? Nevertheless, I wanted the things that meditation could provide: more balance and energy, less anxiety, a quieter mind, and a way to replenish my soul. One day, despite my skepticism, I went to a Zen meditation class. I wore comfy clothes and armed myself with open mind and open heart. Although my body felt tense because Ed was telling me that meditation wouldn’t work, I pushed his words aside and took a spot on the floor. The dimly lit, incense-filled room was instantly calming. The teacher instructed us to sit comfortably and close our eyes. Even as I heard her soft, clear voice, Ed was yelling in my ear, “Cheryl, you can’t relax. You are being stupid and selfish!” However, I continued to breathe deeply and did my best to tune Ed out. As the class progressed, I noticed that Ed seemed to get both mad and discouraged at the same time. Although he continued to shout, he could tell that I wasn’t listening to him, often backing down enough for me to have a few moments of peace. Those few seconds were all I needed to convince me to continue. So I went back to more classes and practiced at home, surprised by how invigorating and peaceful meditation was becoming. It was dedicated quality time with myself, which gave me the space to experience tranquility, freedom, and even a sense of inner bliss. This time with myself felt like a big, warm hug—a gift to my body and a great addition to my recovery toolbox. Sure, Ed didn’t like it, but that was the whole point!
How do you take quiet time for yourself? Can you sit and just “be” with your (healthy) thoughts? Give yourself permission to begin to feel what it’s like to be in a quiet space—even if only for five minutes. Find a peaceful place in your house and light a candle or incense to set a relaxing mood. Listen to meditation music or instruction, and feel the shift inside of yourself. If (when) Ed speaks, push his voice from your thoughts and concentrate on your breath. Be patient and kind with yourself and don’t give up. To deepen the exercise, after you meditate write in a journal about the thoughts and feelings that came up before, during, and after the meditation. With health, hope and strength, Cheryl