Turning the radiance inward

I'm still going to write about meditation tonight because I feel like this thing I've been doing where I set an intention about what to write about (and then think about it) and then do it is working well for me.

To not lose out on the benefits of spontaneity I'm also going to talk a little bit about anxiety, because that's where I am right now. You may recall that I casually mentioned weaning off my meds a few weeks ago. I have been taking Lexapro for generalized anxiety and panic for a couple of years. I have been taking some kind of SSRI (selective seratonin re-uptake inhibitor--you can google it or enjoy my layman's definition: it keeps your brain from using up all of the seratonin at once keeping the levels more constant preventing anxiety and/or depression) on or off for depression or anxiety since I was 19 (12, almost 13 years if you're wondering). I usually go on, stay on for nine months to a year and then go off until I feel a need to go on again another year or two later. This is the longest I've ever been on and I actually tried to go off about a year ago and it was immediately unpleasant so I stayed on until now.

I don't have a super rational explanation about why I go on and off...  I just don't want to be on meds.  I don't like them.  I spend a lot of emotional energy thinking about what I put in my body (except on the days I blow it with cheese, and even then I spend a lot of emotional energy thinking about it, I just don't think nice thoughts) and then everyday I take a little piece of poison and swallow it and let it go to work in my brain... it just doesn't jive well with my world view.

Essential disclaimer: for the love of god, do NOT stop taking your antidepressants because of something I say about them.  If you decide, for and by yourself, to stop taking them--talk to your doctor first.  thanks.

Back to me...  I know that I have issues with seratonin... in general I don't have enough hanging around in my brain.  Seratonin is a lovely little brain chemical that I like to think of as protecting us from the stresses of every day life, and when you don't have enough available to protect you... it feels like being exposed to the (emotional) elements.

Taking a SSRI is one way to deal with that... exceptional self care through exercise, thoughtful food choices, and other work are other ways.  I have been working with my naturopath to increase the amount of seratonin available to my sweet sensitive brain through the use of thoughtful food choices and some supplements that help my body do its job and I'm at the place where I can start to wean (or I was a few weeks ago).  So when my last menstrual cycle ended I started to wean off... and I found myself at about half the dosage I was taking before when I saw that my next menstrual cycle was around the corner.  Knowing that I ALWAYS experience a significant lapse in available seratonin around that time I decided to stay where I am (at half dosage) and wean the rest of the way off through the next cycle (watch out June period--we're coming at you med free!).

Now, why the hell I haven't had a period for 32 days when I ALWAYS run a short 26-27 day cycle is a complete mystery.  I am, of course, convinced that I am pregnant... even though I haven't had sex with anyone and I doubt I am the ideal candidate for immaculate conception.

I've been pleased to discover that my level of generalized anxiety has not risen even a smidge.  I have noticed at 1/2 dosage that I am aware of having more feelings/emotional reactions than I was before.  Things that didn't bother me at all before sometimes set off little alarms or twinges of discomfort but in general they are not unmanageable... I notice them, watch them, they pass/fade/what have you, and off they go and on I go.  What I have noticed, however, is that things that would have bothered me in the recent past not only bother me but they send me reeling into activation (the feeling of being very anxious: for me it involves racing thoughts, fast and hard heartbeat, rumbly stomach, shaky/trembly joints, chattery teeth, spinny feeling in the head) and that can be somewhat alarming.  I work to discharge the activation (that usually involves giving it attention/awareness until it also changes and eventually fades away) and it passes and again my level of generalized anxiety remains insignificant, but something occurred to me today in an emotional moment when I felt the spinning start to happen...  this is where it starts.  I experience my emotions as activation/anxiety and when I don't take the time to discharge it remains present and the activation periods just stat to blend together until I feel perpetually activated.

I learned something new!  and I have work to do!

One of the things I need to do is maintain a daily meditative practice.  It's the most effective way to discharge ANY level of activation COMPLETELY.  So, I'll be off to do that in a minute, but before then... I want to tell you about Sunday!

So I found a meditation group online by googling (google=magic, try it, you'll like it) and walked it late (embarrassing!) found a seat in the back, closed my eyes and realized we were going to sit there in complete silence for 30 minutes (only 25 for me, thank goodness because I was late!  woot!).  That was kind of terrifying.  I haven't done any silent meditation or "sits" in forever, I've been very reliant on guided meditation practice.  But, I did it anyway... and here's how it went:

  1. first, I was nervous about being late and felt embarrassed so that was present until it wasn't
  2. then, I found a lot of comfort in going back in time a week prior to the last time I was with 38 and remembering that in a safe space--that was nice
  3. then, I found my mind starting to quiet (i think it had been about 15-20 minutes by now)
  4. then, I started to feel like I was falling asleep
  5. then, I got super excited about that!  I had been listening to a talk that week about that ideal space between consciousness and unconsciousness and how hard it is to remain balanced on the edge between the two and how most of us will just fall asleep when we reach that point... well, I sure as hell wasn't going to pass on that opportunity!
  6. then, I gave all my attention to remaining in that space and the most marvelous thing happened... my empty, quiet mind was instantly filled with light.  It was a golden, warm, loving light and it seemed to radiate into, through, and out of me... I was basically the light
  7. then, of course, because I am super cocky and think I should be able to do anything I want without really having to work for it I tried to astral project (I decided a few days before that I wanted to learn to astral project so I could visit a certain someone on her birthday.  I know, I'm ridiculous... I'm okay with it.).  I think I managed to get out of my body and I may have even left the building when a loud truck roared by and knocked me straight back into consciousness.
  8. then, the teacher spoke and told us we were going to go for another 15 minutes and it only took 10 minutes that time to get back to the edge and find the light again (woot!)

After the meditation was over the teacher/leader facilitated a discussion about the practice.  He shared a poem:

No waves
no wind, 
the empty boat is flooded with moonlight. 

and we talked about it.  What is the empty boat?  us.  What is the moonlight?  our own essence, the energy we are made up of... radiated back into ourselves through the practice of meditation.

In our waking moments we give our radiance to the world around us through our eyes, our smiles, our words, our hugs, our choices, and our actions... and when we stop, sit, breathe, and quiet our minds we redirect that radiance inward we give it back to ourselves.

Pretty freaking cool, right?  I thought so.

Friday: Resistance, and more about WHY to break through it and maybe a little HOW too.

"Remember, the entrance door to the Sanctuary is inside you." 

More questions for you:
  • Have you ever tried meditating?  Any interesting experiences as a result?
  • Know of any other ways to fill the empty boat with moonlight and/or find the entrance door to the Sanctuary?