Meditation. The Early Days.


If I ever give the impression that meditation is easy, it’s not. It’s a practice. Like everything we do. It takes persistent effort. Meditation is simple. Not easy. I experienced a lot of negative emotions along the way. In the beginning it triggered memories for me that were too much for me to deal with. I was learning to fully experience emotions that I had previously numbed out with drugs and/or alcohol. I felt completely overwhelmed by all the shit that was going on in my mind. My meditation practice seemed to be making things worse for me rather than better.
It was suggested to me that I approach my mind like a messy closet. Rather than slamming it closed, I pull a few things out at a time and then put them away neatly and close the door. Coming back at another time. And so on.
So that’s what I did.
Little by little (baby steps), I was able to look at it all. Little by little I was able to get my closet organized. I tossed what I didn’t need and kept what I did. I’m sure I kept things that I really could have tossed, but I just wasn’t quite ready to let them go. I think the letting go is an ongoing process.
The thing is, I had to feel EVERY bit of it along the way and for someone who had found a way to be numb for a lifetime, it was HARD. I sat with sadness. I sat with fear. I sat with anger. I sat with it all. And I lived. Not only did I live, I learned so much through that difficult process. I learned that it’s ok to experience unpleasant emotions and that they are just that. Nothing more. Nothing less. I learned that I can stay present with whatever I’m experiencing and I don’t have to shut down or numb out.

Nobody makes it into their adult life without pain and some sort of suffering. That pain has to be acknowledged and dealt with. Of that I am sure.
If you find yourself struggling with difficult emotions in your own meditation practice, just know that it does get better.

What to expect at your first yoga class

Yoga is everywhere these days.  It’s prevalent on social media, it’s all over the television, and there’s a yoga studio on every corner.  It seems like everyone is practicing yoga.  Why is everyone practicing yoga?  I think the world is catching on to the fact that we all need some TLC.  Yoga is love.   It takes courage to walk into that first yoga class, but I promise you, it’s worth it.  If you are feeling a bit nervous about that first class, you aren’t alone.  We’ve all had to walk into that first class.   Here are some tips to ease your mind and help you get started.

1.  Do your research.


Look online for a space that suits you.  If you are already established with a fitness center, start there.  Read the information about the different classes they offer. You don’t want to jump into an advanced class your first time.  Find a class that is suitable for beginners.  If you don’t see that information, call the studio and speak to someone.  Tell them you are a beginner and let them direct you to the right class for you.

2.  Arrive Early

Expect to have to fill out a liability waiver.  This is standard procedure and does not mean the class is going to hurt you. You’ll want to get that done and get set up in your space.  Many locations offer mat rental or have free mats for your use if you don’t have your own.   Most studios will have cubbies for you to store your belongings while you practice.  In almost all studios you will be asked to remove your shoes before you enter the space where you will practice.

3.  Expect to feel uncomfortable

As the class begins to fill up it may seem like everyone knows one another and have been best friends their entire lives.  They haven’t.  It’s perfectly ok to sit in stillness on your mat as you wait for the class to begin.  Once the class starts, it may feel like you are the only person who is unfamiliar with the movements.  Remember, every person in class with you was a complete beginner at one point.

4.  Confusion

Many classes begin and end with either a chant of OM or a longer chant in Sanskrit.  It’s ok if you don’t know what is being said.  You can choose to participate or not. You may find that you enjoy the joined vibration of a group chant.  Many teachers teach the poses in Sanskrit.  Nobody is a Sanskrit scholar.  You will not be expected to know what these words mean and there will not be a test. Most teachers will use a combination of Sanskrit and English while teaching the poses.  A good teacher will verbally guide you in and out of the postures.  You will most likely hear terms like “root down through the feet” or “send the breath into the hamstring.”  This is yoga teacher speak for allowing the feet to really press down into the mat and using concentration as well as your own breathing to allow your hamstrings to release.  Expect to hear a few of these unfamiliar terms in your hour long class.

5.  Being touched

Many yoga teachers offer physical assists.  You will usually be asked by the teacher if it is ok for them to touch you.  It is perfectly acceptable to say no.  If you agree to the assists, you will receive the benefits of proper alignment.  The teacher won’t “correct” you as much as help you gently stretch, fold or twist a little deeper into a pose so you can receive the maximum benefit.  A good teacher will not single any one person out, but will walk around the room assisting everyone equally.

6.  Emotions

Yoga forces us to be completely present in our bodies.  We are stretching and opening everything.  This can cause unexpected emotions to come up for us.   Emotions are a part of the process and it means whatever we are experiencing needs to be felt.  Be with it.  Explore it. Whatever “it” is.  Maybe you will understand where it’s coming from.  Maybe you won’t.  Just allow it to be there.  It’s perfectly normal to cry during a yoga practice or after the practice is over.  Yoga is a safe space for this. It’s a release and it is beautiful.  Don’t hold back if this happens to you.  Let it go.

7.  Ego


Leave it behind.  Yoga is not a competition.  Everyone has their own personal practice.  There are no comparisons.  No one is better than or worse than you.  When you feel the urge to compare yourself, gently bring your attention back to your own mat, your own body, your own breath and your own practice.  Let everything else fall away.

8.  Savasana

The most important pose in the yoga practice.  Also known as Corpse Pose.  At the end of class, the teacher will instruct everyone to lay flat on their backs arms and legs down on the mat.  Like a corpse.  Savasana allows our bodies time to rest after our practice.  It allows our bodies to fully absorb all the benefits of our practice.  Many people have the hardest time with this pose.  The mind starts to wander and we have a tendency to want to get up and DO something.  Don’t.  Just be still.  When the mind wanders, gently redirect it back to your breath.  Be still and allow this time for yourself.

9.  Fun

Don’t forget to have fun.  Yoga can seem so serious, but don’t forget that “It’s just yoga.”  You are allowed to smile and you are allowed to laugh at yourself if you fall out of a balance pose.  You are allowed to laugh anytime you like.  It’s your practice.  Enjoy it.

1000 Sober Days

Surrender. Bow. Give Thanks. Yoga. 💜 Today I have been living sober for 1000 days in a row. ONE. THOUSAND. DAYS. I went to bed last night remembering where I was 1000 days ago. I was in a treatment center. I had my last drink 1,005 days ago, but I medically detoxed for 5 days and since the meds made me loopy, I don’t count those days as sober days. 1,000 days ago I woke up in a treatment center for the third time in a year. Broken. Terrified. Sick. I knew it was the day I had to come off all the medication I had been on to make my detox more comfortable. I knew I had to do it or I wasn’t going to live long. Alcohol was killing me and I was letting it. I couldn’t not drink. I had heard in AA meetings that I should pray. I had no idea how to do that. I had no faith in anything. What I did have was a therapist who promised me that meditation was the medication I needed. I trusted her. She was the ONLY therapist I ever had that didn’t steer me wrong and I loved her for that. I had absolutely nothing to lose. I mustered up all the energy and courage I had and I took myself into the quietest room I could find in that place. And I sat. I sat and I tried to calm myself. I was terrified to come off my medication. I was terrified to live a life without alcohol. The thing is, it wasn’t really a choice I had. If I wanted to live it was a have to. I didn’t love myself enough to really care, but what I did have was three children who I knew needed me. They needed a healthy mom. A sober mom who could be present for them and give them all the love and attention they deserve. On that day 1,000 days ago, as I sat in meditation, I knew. I just knew that I was going to be alright. No matter what it took or how bad it sucked, I knew I was going to be alright. And guess what? I have been alright. Every. Single. Day. I have been so alright. It took a minute to figure the whole sober thing out, but with a ton of loving and supportive people to help me, I figured it out. One day at a time. AA was a great place for me to start. Because, really, where else was I going to meet sober people? People who didn’t drink liquor by the half gallon on a daily basis. People who knew the pain I was in. People who knew how scary it is to live without a crutch. But, I needed more. I needed yoga! I went to local yoga classes. I hated it. I was so uncomfortable in my skin. I hated moving in front of people, I hated being touched by the teachers and most of all I hated the tears that I seemed to cry every time I was in class. I went to AA meetings. I didn’t hate them as much as I hated yoga and meditation, but they were weird and the people were weird. I went anyway. My life started to suck less. I was told that it’s not only OK to cry in yoga, it’s perfectly acceptable. I was taught that everyone’s mind darts around in meditation. That’s why it’s called practice. I was taught that all alcoholics and addicts have to learn how to be comfortable in their skin. I wasn’t special or unique. That little voice in my head, everyone has one. The AA women explained to me that I don’t have to act on every thought that enters my head. I really wanted people to meditate with, so I started a local meditation group. These people helped me so much. They were my teachers. Older. Wiser. They taught me that nobody really gets to meditation because things are so wonderful in their lives. They were all searching when they found meditation. Searching for something better. I was still going to yoga pretty regularly and still not loving it. But, I went anyway. It gave me something “wholesome” to do during my day that distracted me from my desire to get outside of myself. What it did was put me directly inside of myself. Inside of my body. It was moving meditation! For the first time in my life I was able to be in my skin, in my body with no distraction. I learned how to breathe deeply. I learned how to let go of my thoughts. I learned how to create space in my body by letting go of the years of torture I had put my body through. I learned to invite love and light into that space. I started to grow and to thrive.

Today, my life is not at all like it was 1,000 days ago. It’s not ever perfect, but it’s perfect for me. I remember that girl from 1,000 days ago, but she’s not me. I have so many blessings in my life. So many new friends. So much love. So much to be grateful for. My entire life is set up in a way that supports my recovery. It’s a beautiful life. Thank you all for being a part of it. ❤️