Today I want to talk a bit about meditation and dissociation. Recently, I had surgery done on my foot, which required me to be homebound for a week. Check out my last post for details. For the first few days I just rested, took things easy, and allowed my body the space it needed to heal. But, by the fifth day I started to get pretty sore and restless. Sitting on the couch for several days sounds nice but has consequences for our bodies and minds. So, on the fifth day, I decided to spend some time meditating and doing some mild, restorative yoga. My body desperately needed the movement and my mind needed the grounding and calm. However, something very interesting happened when I sat and began to calm my mind.
As I settled in to begin a guided mediation (shout out to Headspace!) and closed my eyes to turn my awareness inward, I noticed that my mind was going to be way more difficult to quiet than normal. The few days of going under sedation, having my foot cut open, sitting, and taking several medications left my mind feeling loose and floaty. The body-awareness I once had seemed to have disappeared. I experienced this very strange sensation where my body felt like it was gathered into a ball as if my elbows and knees might touch, then it seemed like my head and neck were a mile away from my hips, almost like I had become a giraffe. There were moments when I couldn't feel my hands resting on my legs or my feet on the floor. All the while, my mind kept reminding me of the pain I was feeling in my stomach and low back. When I opened my eyes just to check, my body was in a normal seated position, nothing out of the ordinary. As I sat there, attempting to bring my body back into a "normal" state, I was brought back to the days when I struggled so much with dissociation and was unable to feel certain parts of my body. I talked about this in my first blog post, but in those days my sense of where my body was in space was completely off, and I fought with trying to bring my body parts back on line. Having this experience of being medicated, which left my mind floaty and disconnected from my body, and trying to fight to bring it back reminded me of where I've come from.
In that moment, while I was beginning to get frustrated and a little sick from the lightheadedness, I reminded myself that all of this is a practice and rather than sit here and get frustrated all I needed to do was bring my curiosity into the meditation. As I began to let go of the frustration and agitation, I tried to just explore these new sensations. While I desperately just wanted to feel my body as its normal, grounded self, I realized that this was unlikely to happen in that moment, and that's completely fine, especially considering all my body had been through over the past week. My body had been through a surgery just days earlier and was coming off of some pretty powerful medications. This was also my first time meditating in about two weeks due to some travel and preparation for the surgery. Why should I expect that I would feel "normal" and all would go smoothly?
Instead of punishing my mind and body for not cooperating, I focused on giving my body the space to rest and heal, as well as took note of things that cause me to be disconnected from my body. In this case, the medications were the likely culprit, but in the past there have been many other factors - trauma, drugs, negative self-talk, seeking escape. One of the hardest things about mediation is being able to calm the mind and body long enough to actually sit through it and find some kind of peace. But, the thing is that this isn't actually the goal of meditation, at least not for me. Instead of getting caught up in what we're not able to accomplish during meditation, what if we focused on what we were able to accomplish? What if we took the time and space to just explore what is and find something new and exciting in that moment, even if it wasn't what we expected to find? How would our interactions with challenges, our interactions with others, change if we took this stance of exploration instead of the one that focuses on our flaws and weaknesses? Instead of seeking to make everything perfect, what if we could find excitement in whatever it is we do find?
During your next meditation, I challenge you to focus on what you are able to accomplish, what you're able to notice about yourself. Pay attention to what you feel without giving it a judgment. Take note of what stands between you and feeling connected to your body. Resist the urge to judge or punish yourself and instead go after what you seek, with courage and clarity.
May you feel connected
May you see yourself and life as it is, without judgment
May you find your strengths, not just your weaknesses
May you find clarity and courage