One of the things meditation helps with is bringing your mind back to the present when you’re going about your life. If you practice bringing your mind back to the present during meditation, you’ll get used to doing it during the day. Or so Buddha tells us in his seminal work Bring It On Back, Bitches.
That being said, I’ve started a little exercise I call “This.” If I’m toddling about my day doing something and I have a tiny thought, something like “Cool, I can hear the seagulls as I’m walking to my shrink’s office,” I’ll stop and notice my surroundings. What am I doing at that minute? How am I actually feeling? Is the sun shining? Am I headed someplace cool? So then I might think “This. The sun is shining, and for all its problems, San Francisco still can charm me. I still live within spitting distance of the Pacific Ocean and the Golden Gate Bridge. And I’m headed to my new shrink, whom I love and whom I think might be able to help me. And I have access to health care.” Or I could be lying in a sun patch on my bedroom floor with our cat, listening to The Wife making margaritas in the kitchen while singing “Stuck in the Middle with You” at the top of her lungs. And I exhale, close my eyes, and say “This.”
Just the tiniest sliver of something to grab a hold of is all it takes. Fuck, I dunno, it can be that the Target cashier forgot to ring up your $30 worth of toilet paper you had on the bottom shelf of your cart and as you’re loading it into your car, you realize that means you can spend that money on going out drinking with your friends that night. And you say “This.” You have money in your pocket, no one got hurt, and you get to see your friends tonight. Or it could be the kid went to sleep effortlessly, and as you sink into your sofa with a glass of wine, you just say “This.” It’s acknowledging that you DO have blessings in your life, even when you think you don’t.
And so I try and grab a hold of these moments as they pass, to be grateful that the sun is shining on my face even if it makes me sweat; that I have an amazing and caring partner even if it means I have to brave the shitty grocery store to buy ingredients for her favorite soup because she’s sick; to relish the simple joy of preparing dinner, even if it’s the last thing I want to do, because it means I’m putting healthy food on the table and I can afford to do so.
“This” is one of many coping mechanisms I’m using to wade my through on the bad days to keep them from pulling me into deeper waters. I have a number of these, which I’ll share from time to time. I think of this shit as physical therapy, only it guess it’d be “mental therapy.” If you have a medical condition that requires physical therapy, it requires constant work to get yourself back to Go. I’ve started looking at this in the same way. If I give up, I’ll end up like the woman in sweatpants, sitting on her couch eating a quart of ice cream, mindlessly shoveling food into her face, mouth agape in front of the TV, as some announcer’s voice intones: “DEPRESSION HURTS…CYMBALTA CAN HELP.”
I have seen my future and it ain’t pretty. Sweats are NOT a good look for me.