Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Meditation Therapy

For most of my adult life I have tried to practice meditation and have never been successful. You know those instructions - just concentrate on your breathing - in, out, in out - and if other thoughts enter your mind, just acknowledge them and let them go. My problem is always that when the errant thoughts enter, I can’t just let them go. Or I think too much about letting them go. Or I get so frustrated with myself, then all these other thoughts creep in, and well, by now my meditation time is up, my head is filled with a thousand other thoughts and I just feel like a failure.

A big part of my therapy goal was to be able to talk/think about Daphne without my thoughts immediately going to the nightmare memories. And so I started with writing about some of my memories, which was incredibly difficult to do. It actually took me weeks because whatever I wrote sent me ricocheting through hours of horror. But with each thing I wrote, it got easier. (easier being a relative term.) Then my therapist asked me to read it out loud. Another thing I had a huge problem with. But I did it. And through that we discovered that some things were much easier to talk about than others.

Monday found me sitting once again in therapist’s office. Extremely tired from being sick these last couple of weeks, I began the session by begging for mercy -

Me: Let’s do something easy today, I am so friggin tired . . .

Therapist: Best time to poke around, when the censors are asleep . . .

Me: Seriously, I’ll pay you the $150 just to lay down and take a nap . . .

Therapist: Tempting . . . but no.

And so we explored why some things were easier to talk about than others. Memories of things Daphne and I did in a group, with friends, are much easier to talk about than things we experienced alone, or intimate things. Because, therapist tells me, memories that include people who are still in my life are keeping me more grounded in the here and now. And so she kept prompting me to talk about those things. And yes, I was often crying and bouncing back to the horrific. But then I noticed (okay, she pointed out) that I was bouncing, not getting stuck in. Well, that is a tangible and huge improvement. I am feeling like I am making some very good progress.

And then she gave me my homework - “choose one safe memory and think about only that. All the details I can think of - the sights, smells, sounds - but concentrate on that one memory. Try to stay grounded in that one memory. And when the other thoughts enter, just brush them away, let them go”

Oh no. I suck at this. Just like meditation.


  1. I suck at meditation too. But FWIW, I have found that trying it in the dark, with candles and soft music, helps. A little.

    I adore your therapist.

  2. I am also a big fan of your therapist. I am also very proud of your progress so far. Good luck on your homework, I know you can do this!

  3. Complete focus is not easy to achieve - you're just learning how to do it so of course it will be difficult. Work at it and it will get better. Just know that one day it won't be as hard as it is right now.

    I'm really glad you're feeling better and hope the same for Martha.

  4. Your hard work is paying off. You should be very proud of these accomplishments.

    Keeping you in my prayers...

  5. I never really tried meditation... there's this thing here on Saturdays that I desperately want to try... but I have class on Saturdays. Hmph.

    Sounds like you have a great relationship w/ your therapist :)

    one, step, at, a, time. :)

  6. I hope you are giving yourself pats on the back, because you are doing a phenomenal job of dealing with gigantic 'stuff'. And, see, it's getting (relatively) easier! It's getting easier because you are doing the hard work ~ yay for you!

    Meditation is difficult for me, too. I have a little note taped up by my workstation (just looked at it!) that says, "Avoid preoccupation with the internal dialog." That is the hard thing for me with meditation. I am so often waylaid by stray thoughts that turn into internal dialog. It just spools out endlessly in my brain. I counter it with a little mantra that I change from time to time but basically is a list of simple, pleasing things, like sunshine and flowers. Does it help? A little. I keep doing it anyway.

    Remind yourself how amazing you are and how much progress you have made. And, have some ice cream. :-)

  7. I adore my therapist too. I give her all the credit for getting me back to the land of the living originally, and now walking me through the final mine fields.

    e - I gave up ice cream, and all sugar, for lent. But come Easter - I'll be the making up for lost time.

  8. Your therapist gives me hope that good therapists are out there. I'm glad she's going slow and not shoving. Or satisfied with almost no progress...

    and e's sign is so important--I need to write it down somewhere as internal dialogue drives me crazy sometimes. Leads to guilt mostly...

  9. You will get there...complete utter focus in meditation is hard and requires time.

    You can do it.

  10. What is it with therapists and not letting you take naps? Mine does the same shaking of the head no too.

    Pfffffffft I say! Nap away! ;)

    There are some CD's that can help with the meditation. They attempt to make you focus on one thing...

    then the dog barks or the phone rings.

    Let me know if you are successful!