The Antidote – Part 2 – Meditation

This is my second post on the book “The Antidote – Happiness for People Who Can’t Stand Positive Thinking”. This time on its chapter on Meditation/Buddhism. I’m not Buddist but some of the stuff it teaches is interesting/useful.

If you are like me, for years you have been hearing people (therapist, parents, friends, doctors, etc.) telling you that meditation is the way to relieve stress and to become calmer, so you try it. And you try it and you end meditationup feeling like you are failing. That somehow you are just not doing it right. For me, with the multiples, meditation isn’t just about quieting one mind or part of it, it’s like a whole neighborhood. You have multiple houses all blasting their radios – heavy metal, polka, something Spanish, a talk show, etc. You have to spend time going around to each of these house and turn off the music. And when you think you’ve got them all off, they switch back on again, and you have to turn them off again. On and on it goes till you either give up or you have all of them blasting at once. Either way, it’s not a relaxing experience.

So you can image my thoughts when I got to this chapter. I was ready to stop reading. Then I learned something I HAVE BEEN MEDITATING WRONG. I thought I had to completely clear my mind to properly meditate. I’m sure you can imagine my surprise when I found out that, that wasn’t true. Meditation is not about emptying your mind, reaching a state of bliss or achieving a trance-like state of calm. It is not a way of seeking happiness, but a way to stop running away from things that we are either not aware of or don’t want to face.

Here’s what you do: You take the time to sit comfortably still, close your eyes and notice your breath as it flows in and out. One breath in, one breath out. Things will come up, sensations, emotions, etc. We need not be distracted by them but instead we need to notice them. We need not judge them but instead watch our thoughts and emotions, our desires and aversions, as they come and go. We need to resist the urge to run, fix or cling to them. Whatever comes up, good or bad all you need to do is stay present and you observe them, acknowledge them, then let them go. Always returning to your breathing.

The chapter goes on about practicing non-attachment, but i’ll leave some of the book for you to read

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Positive Thinking – Oh, How I Hate Thee!

The Antidote - Happiness for People Who Can't Stand Positive ThinkingI don’t know about the rest of you but when my therapist told me that I needed to start thinking positively, that it would lead to me being happier, all I could do was cringe. But then I got to thinking about it and I started to wonder do I even know how to ” Think Positively”. I really didn’t so I took myself off to the library to find some books on the subject. I ended up with books like The Power Of Positive Thinking and Everyday Positive Thinking. If these books work for you, great! In fact, more power to you, but after about 20 minutes with them, I wanted to scream. I can’t stand in front of a mirror and tell myself everything is going to be alright, when I KNOW it’s not. I could be hit by a car, struck by lighting or have something else equally horrible happen to me. Besides I HATE lying, and that is what I felt like I was doing with myself.

Fortunately when. I was picking those other books, I also grabbed “The Antidote – Happiness For People Who Can’t Stand Positive Thinking” (I guess they couldn’t call it ” Happiness for People Who Think Positive Thinking is Crap).

If you feel the same way about positive thinking as I do that positive thinking often is used by mental health care providers to take the place of actual logically thinking, then this is the book for you. It talks about how our constant search for happiness is making us miserable, especially because we can’t even decide what will make us happy – what happiness really means for us individually. Let’s face it what makes me happy or what I see as happiness most likely is not your idea of happiness.

There are many wonderful things to discover in this book. I’ve already read most of it and it has been changing my view of life. I’m going to start it over because there is so much I want to remember and share, so I’ll be writing about them as I go though it again. Stay tuned for my post on Stoicism.

Things I Enjoy and Make Me Happy

I’m sitting in my therapist’s office last week feeling like a total failure, dejected and depressed. Why? Because I can’t answer even the easiest questions. Things like ” What makes me happy?” “What do I like to do for myself?” and “What brings me joy?” It very sad not to be able to answer these questions because you have no idea how to answer. Thinking of myself and what I want or need is a new thing for me. It usually “What can I do for others?” and “What will make them happy so that they will – like, care, notice – me?”

So this week I have been exploring my inner child. First there was the letter, now I’m going back and learning what makes her happy. What make me happy – full of joy – excited – and while, what really doesn’t. After all, when you try things there is no guarantee that you are going to automatically like them. My therapist had to give me a list called “Adult Pleasant Events,” to get me started, because I felt so lost when it came to this I had no idea where to start. She wanted me to really concentrate on this over this week for next week’s session. I was trying to put this off because of the way it made me feel in therapy, kind of like putting off homework for school till the last possible minute. It wasn’t till today when I was in the middle of my movie that I realized all week since my session I had subconsciously been doing it, looking for things that made me happy.

Here’s what I can say makes me happy so far:

  •  Peanut butter cookies – the good kind, that melt in your mouth when you eat them. They’re basic (not chocolate, which I’m allergic to, but still, happy thingsbasic), so they say home, and made with love, and mom – even if I bought them at the store.
  • Jigsaw Puzzles – I’m good at them. Edges first, them the middle. I use to do the old fashion ones, that came in a box when I was little. It was something I could do on my own while drowning out the rest of the world and at the end I would have a beautiful picture. Now I do them on my tablet which allows for variety, plus I can time myself, change the number of pieces, and I don’t have to worry about storage. So I still get to drown out the world, test my mind and I get the pretty picture at the end.
  • Romance movies – they are cheesy, unrealistic, and usually badly acted. All reason I should hate them, but I don’t. With my parents away again seeing my sister, I’ve been indulging in some guilty pleasure. Harlequin (yes as in the books) had a series of movies in the 80’s-90’s. I’ve only watched a couple so far, but the men……yummy! And they all end up taking off their shirts, at least, one time during the movie. Today’s man was BUILT. So I really don’t care the the story would never happen, the actors are horrible and that I don’t really believe that there is such a thing as love at first sight. I enjoy the very fact that they are so unreal.
  • Sewing – I remembered that I like to make my own clothes. I use to do it a lot. So I went and looked at patterns and material yesterday. It was fun, looking at things you can make, trying to find just the right pattern. Then getting the material. I love the feel of fabric. Then there is choosing the type – cotton, linen, polyester, knit, satin, silk, etc. The comes the colors and designs. I ended with a simple dress pattern, since it been a while since I’ve made anything. It’s long, flowing, v-neck with a tie in the back. I found this material that I just fell in love with (I think it was speaking to Becca and Lola, since it’s so wild), pink, purple, orange and yellow print. But it’s fun and I already know where I want to wear it.

Look at me, I’ve found four things that make me happy and bring me joy. I thought I would hit next week’s session with my therapist and not even be able to come up with one thing.

Happy and a Little Sad…

Yesterday, my sister, Dinah had her baby girl. I’m happy for her, but I can’t help being sad too. Growing up all I wanted to be was a good mother, it was my dream50s-housewife. You know for all that there was woman’s lib; I still wanted the 50’s housewife version of life. Kids playing in the backyard, me in the kitchen in an apron creating something wonderful to eat, and a husband that came home at 5:30 every day to a home-cooked meal and me. Little by little life had eroded that dream like water erodes a rock one drop at a time, at first you don’t notice because it’s so small but eventually the water has eroded right through the rock of your dream leaving just a hole behind.

I know now that I will never get to experience the joy, pain, wonder that my sister got to experience yesterday, that of child-birth. That part of my dream was erode away over 15 years ago when my neurologist sat me down and had the “talk” with me about sex, protect and the need for me to NOT get pregnant on the medication I was taking for my seizures. Over the years I have pretty much come to terms with this fact, but it still makes me sad when I watch everyone around me get what I wanted. I think that this time around it is even harder because both Dinah and Abigail are both pregnant at the same time. It’s like a double smack in the face. It’s hard to be happy for them when a big part of me is bleeding.

Over the years, I have most hide this pain behind the lie that I don’t want kids. A lie that most of the time even I believe. It’s only on days like today that I face the reality of the fact that, child-birth and kids are something that I wanted but I’m not going to get. So while I’m happy for my family and my sister, I’m having a little pity party for me.

Helps Those That Helps Themselves

God or your higher power (whatever you believe) helps those that helps themselves. After the last post looking for help, I decided to do something to help myself, so I went to the library and got out a bunch of books. Basically I took out anything that looked good to me but they mostly have to deal with Anger (which I have a lot of and want to get rid of) and Finding Happiness(which I like to have at least a little of if not a lot). I hope to have a couple more books to add to my recommended reading list real soon. Trying to work my way through them, hopeful I will have some new tips to share as well. Till then I’ll be reading.