Weeks ago I downloaded the Calm app. It offers a variety of classes for meditation, mindfulness and sleep. I am in the middle of a 21 day class by one of my favorite narrators, Tamara Levitt, 21 Days of Calm. Today’s lesson was titled Catching Ourselves.
This lesson was all about paying attention to distractive thoughts and our reactions to them and practicing first recognizing the distraction but also paying attention to the pull. Acknowledge it, watch the pull and then gently guide your purpose back to the breath. In the beginning of this lesson, I immediately started relating it to so many situations in my life, particularly with the pull towards wanting another drink.
Early on in my journey I journaled about my personality. Wondering if I was going to see a shift in say my short fuse as the weeks, then months wore on being alcohol free. I’ve always thought I had a trigger temper and blamed it on the family genes. But over time along this journey, I started noticing I became more and more patient. Don’t get me wrong, I still fly off the handle and get angry, but it seems it’s lessening and lessening.
A perfect example was something I experienced last week dealing with the veterinarian who is caring for my Knasch with his anal fistulas. Weeks before, while getting him checked in for his neuter (albeit before I knew anything about the anal fistulas) I completely lost my shit with the staff over the exorbitant amount of money they were charging me for this procedure. I lashed out at 3 different techs and then the manager; cursing, threatening to leave the clinic, crying. Later, I was embarrassed by how I acted and, like so many times before, regretted my actions and wished I could take back my words.
But last week when visiting for a follow up with Knasch, there was another incident of miscommunication and I was left in the room feeling the tension building, my blood pressure rising, my mind racing “well shit, here we go again; I’ll get these motherfu*%#rs!!” But while I sat in the room, waiting for the vet to come in, I calmly and rationally started talking myself down. Before the vet came in the room, I had a game plan and was then able to have a coherent conversation with her without being fogged over by only seeing RED. As a result, she, the vet, explained how we’re going to be treating Knasch, working together figuring out his best treatment plan. If I had lost my temper, it would have been a wasted visit and I would have lost sight of why I was there..getting Knasch the help he needs and deserves.
As I sat in practice this morning, whenever I would feel that “pull” of thought, I gently brought it back to my breath. This practice is getting easier and faster. The example above of the first time at the vet, I was angry for a long time. In fact, I was still talking about it for several hours, sharing my story with anyone who would listen. The most recent visit, however, I got over it so much faster. I was completely calm by the time the vet came in the room and when I shared it with my husband on the drive home, I was able to explain to him the treatment plan for Knasch without going into detail about my (short-lived) anger.
This practice also can help with being pulled to the drink. I haven’t had a craving for alcohol in months, but I am going to try to remind myself of the pull and to practice resisting it if it does occur. Resist the pull of alcohol by getting back to thoughts of how to get through it. To reach into my tool bag and try something different. Catching myself going down that path and redirecting my thoughts down a different path.
As I’ve said time and time again, the benefits of being alcohol free just keep coming. I’m learning so many valuable tools to help me get through the stressors in life, which are many. I know I wouldn’t be here, writing this blog, dealing with life with all the ups and downs as good as I am if I was still being led down this path with a fogged, dumbed down brain and body due to drinking. I am grateful everyday for the world I’m discovering. So today I’m going to practice catching myself when I start heading down the negative path. Getting back to my breath and heading down another path.
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