By Paul - "Message in a Bottle"
Imagine a thousand racquetballs. Now imagine shooting those balls from several cannons into a five-foot square, rubber-lined box.
That chaos, that flailing about? You've just stepped into my mind.
If you catch me on a good day, that's about how quickly my mouth works too. And let's not forget about how my emotions careened about while I was actively drinking, or thinking about drinking. Even today it can be a rollercoaster ride.
Part of my journey in recovery has been the quieting down of my over-active mind. And meditation has been the antidote to a hyper and often deceptive brain. Now while my mind serves to give me lighting quick, smart-ass quips and keen practical insight into things, what I have come to understand is that among the useless but cool Simpson's trivia and other important things is a haze of mental chatter. Unchecked chatter slowly erodes me. Ego has a great ally in the mind, and it transmits fears, resentments and all-purpose lies through thoughts. I often feel that my mind is trying to destroy me from the inside out.
My recovery mentor likes to remind me about how I was when he first met me – my energy was off the charts. I was reverberating, unfocused and unsettled. One of my greatest tools has been the practice of meditation. At first I couldn't sit for more than 30 seconds. My monkey mind wouldn't allow for that. Today I can remain for up to 30 minutes in stillness. The benefits continue to reveal themselves the more I do this: I can respond to the world in a manner of calmness and centeredness I could never conjure up before. I can tap into the power of the mind-body-spirit connection that allows me to gain new energy and yet conserve it. I can appreciate the present and experience that there is no conflict in The Now.
The most powerful and critical shift for me in this meditative practice is that for once in my life, I actually sit and listen. I never could listen before. But today, I listen to my body, my breath, my surroundings. And most importantly, I get to listen to Creator. I take a pit stop from life and simmer the mental engine down and listen to what comes from conscious contact with Him. I get direction in the stillness. I find divine inspiration. I dip into an endless well that rejuvenates me more than a thousand naps could. I find myself touching the sky from within.
When I sit with purpose, I no longer hear the racquetballs slapping against the walls of my mind. But I do experience the silence space between them. I am free from the shackles of my own making. I am calmer. Freer. At ease in the skin that I once tried to drink my way out of. It's all quiet, and from that source of being, I affect change.
And the great change is this – I no longer need to seek validation from the external, but see that all I need is already within. It's always been there...
I just need to listen for it.
Paul is a father, husband, professional chef, runner, blogger, writer and alcoholic in recovery. He has been sober for over 3 1/2 years. He was born and raised in Toronto, Ontario, where he makes his home with his wonderful wife of 20 years and two boys. When not working, Paul can be found reading, watching 80's music videos on line and chatting it up on social media. His blog can be found at: www.messageinabottleblog.wordpress.com
You can follow him on Twitter here: @mssginbottle