Meditation in Movement
When I used to do yoga, that kind of exercise was called "meditation in movement." So, too, this is the theme of my life. In the coming blog entries, I'm going to talk about topics that are central to doing well in recovery, including relationships.
For now, I want to talk about the concept of meditation in movement. When I told my therapist I wanted to have a calm mind, he gently suggested, "No one could have a calm mind." The goal is to be at ease in the world. All of us have good days and not-so-good days, even if we don't have schizophrenia. To be at ease as often as possible—to hold our own—is the best coping skill.
I'm meeting someone at Starbuck's on Saturday and I intend to ask her, "Is it always easy for you?" I want to know if other people struggle as much as it seems I do. To hear my friend tell me honestly that she does, I wouldn't feel so alone.
My theme of meditation in movement features into this because I expect to be on the move. What I want to accomplish will require that I multi-task in my mind and shift from worrying to focusing and accepting that the worry will return, as it is part of my nature.
I espouse a coping skill that is an instant form of meditating, though the stereotype of one who meditates is a Buddha in repose. Rather, what I can do is "reality check" when I begin to worry. This will help you, too, test what's going on and come up with a different take on it instead of paranoia. I've decided it will be of great benefit when I begin to worry how I look to others when I'm out in public.
An example: Sunday I met the other writers at Tillie's to talk shop. As we rose to leave, I noticed the strap of my backpack was stuck under the metal table leg. If I tried to pull it out, I felt the water bottles and food container on the table would roll around if not fall off. Screw it, I said, and took the items up to place in the trash container, and went back to lift the table so I could retrieve my backpack. As I walked away, Maya reminded, "Chris, you left your bag on the chair." I had come in with a paper bag because I'd bought a scarf at the nearby flea market before meeting the women.
By that time, I felt there was no easy way to exit Tillie's gracefully, and I felt like I was on display. When I arrived home, I remembered that fifteen years ago—dining in the Hard Rock Café with a friend—I also worried what the other diners thought of me. This comes and goes. It doesn't happen all the time, only at certain times. A sense of humor is the ultimate weapon when the worry infiltrates my mind. Beset this way, I'm not in the throes of worry and able to accept what goes on and shrug it off. The agony is real to me. Only when the event ends do I feel okay.
As you can see, meditation in movement is a key skill to use to be out in the world, a world that is changing every day. The meditation aspect involves simple breathing techniques that a person can do quietly so that no one is aware, like breathing in deeply and slowly to the count of three, and exhaling to the count of four.
Given the opportunity, I will always accept an invitation to meet someone at a café, restaurant, mall or in the City. What I intend to do, indeed, is "reality check." I will ask a few close friends for feedback, to be honest when I share that I worry people in my peripheral vision think I'm looking at them. I would like to ask the loyal followers of my blog to post comments on this entry. Do you ever have bouts of worry like I do? Do you go through moments that are hard, and if so, how do you get through? I want to open up this dialogue to everyone so we could explore a multitude of coping skills to help each other.
I used to have a friend who lamented that role models aren't supposed to have hardships, and she felt we're only human, just like everyone else. I am humble if I am anything. I consider myself a true "soloist": I want to learn from others at the same time I advocate for them.
Meditation as a course of action will help me ride out the uncertainty—dare I call it terror—of purchasing a one-bedroom co-op, a goal I want to achieve by January. Part of meditating involves accepting the uncertainty, the unknowns, and the twists and turns in one's life. The key is to be gentle and kind towards yourself. I've decided to act this way—to forgive myself for the imagined sins that seem all too real. It came to me a couple months ago that I had internalized all sorts of stigma, and felt guilty. That is why I will call on those few close friends to have a heart-to-heart. I will also talk on Monday nights with my therapist, who told me last week, "Everyone to some degree worries what other people think of them."
I accept that I have schizophrenia. It's what life handed me. I intend to use my experiences and insight to give you hope that as hard as it is, life is always worth living. I'm going to road test these coping skills: doing a reality check, having a heart-to-heart with friends, talking to my therapist, doing breathing exercises and having a sense of humor. I'll report back on how it goes.
The next blog entry will talk about the necessity of developing relationships and not hiding out in one's room.