The Prison of My Mind

Well!  This past week has been an experience.  As I may have mentioned, my SO and I are  practitioners of a certain kind of meditation.  It is followed by millions and while it is a Hindu based tradition, it is open to and followed by people of all faiths.  Also, while the main Guru is a Hindu Paramahamsa-with his guru’s guru having been Yoganandya, the main premise is to meditate-to become closer to God as one views it-this can mean Jesus, it can be Moses, Mohammad, Nanak-Whomever.  There is a certain yoga ritual that this is based on-Yoga in this case meaning Union.  Union with God.  Now, my SO meditates twice daily- getting up at 4:30 in the morning often and practicing for 3 hours.  My morning consists of waking up around 7, taking out my dog, making a cappucino and getting back in the bed.  I listen to Mantras on Pandora and write in my journal.  I reserve my second cappuccino for reading the news.  So, while I adhere to this form of devotion, I don’t practice it daily.  Preferring to chant mantras throughout the day, thinking of God throughout the day, etc.  I do however attend programs throughout the year and do the cooking for a program that we attend in the Seattle area every year.

Recently, this group bought 150 acres in Texas, about an hour and a half from where we live.  It is an Ashram and intended to be one ran by women and for women to possibly live there in the future.  There is the main house, where the care taking nun lives, a dormitory style building that can sleep 40 women and a separate house for men to stay in. Eventually, a Temple and other small residence buildings will be built there.  We went for the opening ceremony last September and my SO spent a week there in November helping them prepare for a week long program that was coming up.  A few months ago a notice was put out asking for some volunteers to spend a week there taking care of things while the 2 women that live there attend a program in Florida.  My SO asked if I was interested.  I asked could we bring the dog.  They checked and said yes, but only if he did not come in the house-which is basically the Meditation Hall- and that he could sleep in the barn.  Well, that wasn’t going to happen.  For some reason though, I agreed.  However, as time went on and the date was getting closer, I started having second thoughts.  Missing Bentley (the dog) in London, I wasn’t happy about leaving him again for a week so soon after we returned.  But, it was too late to back out. And, surprise! no one else had volunteered.

So, we packed up the SUV- and I mean packed.  Took our own linens, lots of food, definitely the Cappucino machine, the portable speaker-the car was full.  I had tried to just tell myself that this was something that was supposed to be.  And, as we were half way between Austin and Houston, I thought we’d go to a little small town nearby one day and then on Saturday go to Houston where we could find a sports bar to watch the FA Cup final.  Trust me there is no place in the surrounding area that was going to show European Football.  We arrived to the quite and serene setting.  I mean that.  The energy there is amazing. It’s an old farm house with a big front porch looking out at a beautiful fenced yard (perfect for a dog!) with lots of flowers, lush grass, several beds with assorted happily producing vegetable plants, giant Pecan trees, some Peach and Fig trees.. Really pretty.  “Okay”‘, I told myself.  “Just go with this Lynne.  Take in the energy and just be.  At the least you’re contributing to someone being able to partake in their own Spiritual practice”. I was thinking of the nun that we were filling in for.

I thought I would take long walks in the morning before it got too hot and just spend most of my day outside on the porch.  Oh, did I mention that because this was more or less a Temple and Meditation Hall, aside from 4 chairs inside-wooden ones, there isn’t any other furniture.  No sofa, no dining room table.  Nada.  There is a huge stack of meditation cushions.  Oh!  And no TV.  Of course looking at the Ashram schedule that was posted in several places, there’s no time for watching TV or laying around on a sofa.  They start at 4:45 a.m. and don’t stop til 9:30 at night.  When I’m sure they fall into a totally exhausted, but blessed, sleep. Never noticing that the mattress is only 2 inches thick.  And while we were not expected to adhere to the schedule -who would know if we didn’t? Well, except God of course!  We did have a couple of things that we had to do on a daily basis.  One was to water the plants and vegetable gardens daily.  This took up an hour or more.  The other was attending to the 2 pet cows-Bahamas of course!  Rishi and Karuna are there names.  They’re very sweet, just about a year old and still had blessing marks on their foreheads from the previous visit from the cheif Guru.  Everyday around 4:30 p.m. they would come up to the field right out of the back door to be hand fed bananas-who knew?- and brushed.  Now I’ll admit that even though I’m a pure bred Texan, I’ve never had this much experience with cows. And I loved it.  Not as much as having my Bentley with me, but it was fine and a nice experience.

The first full day went as planned.  We both stuck to our normal routine.  My SO got up at 4:30 and meditated.  I got up at my usual time and went outside and had my coffee-We took a 4 mile walk. Made breakfast and I pretty much spent all day outside.  In the night I noticed that I had a weird drainage in the back of my throught and chalked it up to allergies.  The next day, I mentioned that being a small, country area there was bound to be some good pie around.  Started checking out the internet-thank God they had that! My So made a comment about me not being able to just be there.  That’s when I realized that we had different visions of how this week was going to be.  Wondering to myself if he had been planning on having a kind of intense, spiritual experience.  By now he was meditating 3 times a day.  I just kind of look at everything as an ongoing spiritual experience.  So, I backed off about leaving. But, I will admit, I was kind of irritated. Then that wierd drainage turned into what I thought was a full blown cold.  Which in fact was just “cold like” symptoms for what became an upper respiratory infection.  Jeez!  So much mucus and blowing my nose!  And the coughing! I had my SO go get me some nighttime medication because I knew if I didn’t have that, I’d be coughing all night long.  As it was, because my cough was so bad, and I felt pretty crummy, we didn’t go on our planned excursions.  No little Texas town, no FA Cup on tv.  I was able to follow it on my phone with live commentary-and as Chelsea lost, I guess it was fine we didn’t go.

Now, I have to say that a part of me was well aware that me getting this “crud” when I did was all connected to the whole experience.  And, as I had plenty of time on my hands, I did some research on the metaphysical meaning of respiratory infections and cough.  “Resentment.  Wanting to be heard.  Barking at the world.” Yep.  That fit.  And, as there are pictures of different Gurus all over the place, I’d just look at them and kind of laugh and say, “okay! You got me.  I’m here and not leaving.” My SO gets a little taken aback with my relationship with the Gurus, God.  For example, I always call on particular Guru when I’m looking for a parking place.  My SO thinks that’s a little disrespectful.  Says he’s doing other things.  My take is that he can do a zillion different things at once.  And, to be honest, most of the time, it works. Just saying…

By Sunday morning, I’d had it. My cough and mucus production seemed to lighten up and I decided that I’d take a shower, wash my hair and clean up.  While I was wrapping my wet hair in a towel, my back went out! REALLY???? I couldn’t fucking believe it!  Went in told my SO.  Tired to stretch it out.  Lower back.  In a clinch!  I said to myself, “Fuck it!”  And went ahead, did my hair, put some makeup on, got dressed and went into the room my SO was-still in his lounge pants-and said, “I’m gotta get out of here. If you want to come, be in the car in 5 minutes!”  And he was.  We went to the little town we’d planned on checking out-Ok, it was an outing, but I’ll never go back there! Then went back to the town we were staying in which isn’t much better and went to the only place open that wasn’t fast food.  Got a sandwich.  This is where Blue Bell ice cream is made and it’s everywhere. So, I had a double chocolate soda with my lunch.  All the while, moving gingerly. By that time we’d been gone a whole 2 hours!  But, I was worn out. So went back took a nap.  I was also craving things.  One of them being a steak! I haven’t eaten meat in like 6 years.  I’m not sure if it was the rebellious part of me-being in a totally almost Vegan environment-or if it was all the cattle in the area-not Rishi and Karuna-or if I needed iron.  The other thing I was really craving was scrambled eggs! God did I want scrambled eggs!

On Monday-Memorial Day- my back was still hurting and I had been uncomfortable sleeping-but again, I needed to get out.  So I got dressed, told my SO to meet me at the car and we went into town for lunch.  Same place.  This time I had a huge cone of Butter Pecan Ice Cream with my lunch. As lunch had only taken about an hour-and that’s with walking around the town-I asked if he wanted to go to Walmart!  That’s how desperate I was!  Walmart on Memorial Day!  We found a little department store and spent an hour in there. I looked at EVERTHING! I sprayed so much perfume on myself, we had to roll the windows down when we got back in the car.

That night, my back went into a spasm and wouldn’t release.  I had to get up and it took me 15 minutes to maneuver out of the bed.  Each time I took a step, my back would spasm and I’d yell out in pain.  Then I’d start laughing.  At one point, I couldn’t stop laughing.  My SO thought I’d totally lost my mind and asked if I’d be able to ride in the car to go home.  Let me tell you, I was going home! After sitting in a really straight backed chair for about an hour-watching my SO take care of ALL the chores, I was able to get on with it.

At one point though, as I was trying to process everything- why this all happened,  why it happened at this time, in this place-  I realized a couple of things.  In so many ways, it’s our minds that imprison us. Our beliefs.  Our self imposed limitations.  Which can manifest into physical limitations and set backs.  I didn’t want to go and stay at the Ashram for a week.  If there’s a program, okay. But for this, no.  While it may not adhere to the basic theology of this group-which is that meditation is the way to go-I have, as I’ve said, an almost constant awareness of God and a belief that everything comes from God-even a respiratory infection and a whacked out back.  I asked my SO if he’d had any kind of huge spiritual experience the past week and he said not really.  And again, I’m glad that by staying there I was able to contribute to someone else’s Spiritual Path or growth.  But, I allowed myself to be trapped into something without thinking it through and all of the resentment, discomfort, boredom just manifested into a fog of pain.  Now of course if I’d still been drinking, I could never have agreed to the whole thing.  Because it wouldn’t have been at all appropriate to knock back a bottle-or probably more-of vino every night.  Or I would have spent a lot of time in that un-airconditioned barn “sneaking”and then trying not to act any different when I went back inside. Yeah, right!  Not to mention where would I hide all the empties? It just would not have even been an option for me to commit to that. I wouldn’t have been able to commit to it because I would have not only been a prisnor of my mind, but of alcohol.  Which of course is related to being a prisnor of ones’ mind (in my humble opinion).  And so, the cycle would go on and on and on.  Feeling guilty if I didn’t go so I could stay at home and drink-or feeling guilty because I was getting drunk every night in a sacred space.  Thank God that wasn’t an issue!  In spite of all the gunk and the pain, all of that is so much better than all of the shit that comes from addiction.

I’m home now!  Got my doggie woggie with me! Had a big plate of scrambled eggs for dinner last night.  Have an appointment with my Chiropractor this afternoon.  Life is good and I’m blessed.

And oh, by the way in case you haven’t figured it out-I may be a Texan, but I am definitely not a country girl!




Once An…..

Wow! It’s been awhile since I’ve written!  For a couple of reasons-one is that we’ve been away in the UK for several weeks.  The other is that my iPad is completely messed up and the thought of posting from my phone just seemed too much. But I’m here now, still sober on day…Whoops! I need to check-Another WOW!  Day 500!  Jeez! Who’d’ve thought!

I have a few observations from my past few weeks in the UK. While I wasn’t exactly nervous that I would cave in and drink, I was qustioning exactly how things would be.  I mean in the past, as soon as we arrived in London, the first thing I do is go to Waitrose and make sure that I have enough wine-not that there’s ever enough!  Loading up on French wines because they always seemed cheaper there than here.  This trip, while we flew into London, we immediately hopped on a train for a three hour trip to Devon.  To stay with long time friends of my SO for a few days before heading back to London for a couple of weeks.  These people live out in the country-in a big old Georgian house.  When you look out the windows, it’s like a post card-rolling hills and lots of sheep. I’ve been there many times, but have skipped the last couple of years for several reasons.  One is I really do not resonate with the house-it feels really chaotic to me-stuff everywhere-4 GIANT dogs everywhere along with the dog hair, etc.  And, the woman of the house is a total control freak-trying to anticipate one’s every move and finish everyone’s sentences.  There is absolutely no kind of back and forth conversation-Once a subject is brought up-she just runs with it. AND-they drink like fucking fish!  I remember my first trip there, years ago. We had gone for my SO’s 60th birthday celebration-which is between Christmas and New Year’s.  It was a constant house party.  That first night, I remember finally going up to our bedroom and me-me!– telling my SO that there was absolutely no way that I could keep up with these people! That he was going to need to go out and get me a case of Perrier or something.  I mean, I could drink-no question about that! But I don’t think I’d really seen anything like this since I was in college.  And trust me, these people were well past college age!  Needless to say, I did my best to keep up-but it was even too out of control for me.  Constant food and booze.  I finally decided that the woman was a cross between Hyacinth Bouquet from Keeping Up Appearances and Edina Monsoon from Absolutely Fabulous.  While this might sound funny on paper, trust me, in reality it’s not.
I was kind of wondering how it would go when it came out that I wasn’t drinking.  I asked my SO not to mention it.  No big deal.  And needless to say, the first night we were there, we were totally “knackered” as my SO would say-basically ate and went to bed. Of course, they never eat in this house before 9 or 10.  “Why” you might ask-as if you didn’t know? Because one needs a “buzz” first!  Anyway, the next night when the “high time” came around, she asked if I wanted any wine.  And, I just said no-that I hadn’t had any alcohol in almost a year and a half. Her response?  “I couldn’t do that!”  And that was that.  She never said another word about it. Now what was interesting to me is that I have noticed that when I tell people that I quit drinking, for the most part, they ask how or why-was it a health issue, things like that. And, these people are people that I’ve noticed have a lot of alcohol involved in their lives and activities. This woman was the first person in those circumstances that reacted differently.  That really gave me something to think about.  And to be honest, I think her long term alcohol use has effected her health-both mental and physical.. I can’t say that she doesn’t suffer from all of the internal strife that I and many others have caused by addiction-but she didn’t want to go anywhere near that topic.  And, let me tell you, she has some deep psychololical shit going on!

So! I made it through that and we were onto London.  Where again, I can’t exactly say I was worried-just kind of hyper aware and wondering how it would be for me.  My SO had planned a ton of social activities-most revolving around meals out.  The first was treating an old friend on one of our first nights in London.  She was already in the restaurant waiting for us when we arrived, nursing  a G and T.  I immediately asked what was a good non alcoholic drink and the bartender set me up with a Chelsea Set Cooler! Perfect!  Sparkling, Minty, Cucumbery, Appley!  I had mentioned to my SO that he should order a bottle of wine with dinner-and he did.  He maybe had 1 1/2 glasses and she had the rest.  When she noticed I wasn’t having any, I again, said I had quit drinking.  Now she did ask all the ususal questions and we went on from there.

Another evening, we met a friend at his private club.  Immediately he said he was going to order a bottle of champagne.  God!  How cool was that?!! We’re in a fancy shmancy private club in London in a very chi chi area and he wants to order a bottle of fizz!  Well, I immediately just said that I’d quit drinking and would just get a sparkling water-his girlfriend said that she really didn’t want to drink anything-and so that was that! My SO said he couldn’t be bothered so no champagne was ordered.

I think the thing that was most reinforced for me- again- was the sense of freedom that I felt this trip.  Freedom from trying how to squeeze in, sneak in, get in my “allotment” of alcohol every day.  Freedom from thinking about it everyday-ALL day.  Freedom from hiding the empties from my SO and sneaking them into the recycling bag at the last minute. Freedom from the dullness and hangovers and having to act like I’m completely 100%.  Freedom from pissing away money that I was able to spend on other things.  Freedom from being the one that had the most to drink on any given occasion.  Because what I also noticed at several other occasions, is that some people, including my SO, could order one glass of wine and be happy with that.  Shit! why bother??!  I could really picture myself and all the finagling I’ve done in the past, and for what?  WINE!!  What a fucking waste of time!  I will admit, that at times, not inviting someone round for drinks leaves a bit of a hole-and once back here, in the warm sunshine after a full day of getting my house in order, the thought of opening up a nice cold bottle of Sancere was appealing-for a split second! The other thing that occurred to me is HOW could I have kept up with it all?  I mean, in the past-so what if I’d just come off a 9 hour flight then a 1 hour bus ride followed by a 3 hour train ride?  That deserved a bottle of wine, didn’t it?  I mean I was on vacation!! And of course that applied on the other end-when I got home. The first thing I would do would be to go to the store to get a bottle of wine to drink.  No matter that I’d  basically been up and traveling for 20 hours or more.  This time when I got home, I realized that I needed coffee for the next morning.  Now normally, I get this Double French Roast at Whole Foods. But I just couldn’t bring myself to go there so I went to Trader Joes.  Struggling to figure out which coffee would at least make me happy the next morning and I could then go to Whole Foods and get my normal roast.  I asked several people who worked there and was assured that their Ground, roast Espresso was kick butt coffee.  And you know what??? It is! It’s my new favorite!  So much so that I went back in the next day and bought 3 bags of it to have in reserve! Driven to do that!  Well, you know what they say… Once an……

With love.