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Letters with My Son

I got the most amazing letter from my son yesterday. It was like I got a letter from a different kid. And that is because I did, the son that I dropped off in treatment eight months ago is no more and a new one has taken residence in his life. I don’t know if that other former kid will make another appearance, but for this moment, there is a new kid in town, and he happens to be mine.

I didn’t get his permission to share the letter so I won’t but I can share my response. In the letter he asked me a series of questions. A whole bunch of questions about me, meditation, sobriety, life. It was the first time I really think he ever asked me anything. I mean, I have been telling him shit for years, but never because he asked...always because I wanted him to know things that, in truth, I thought were important. He was largely uninterested...

But yesterday, something shifted. In the midst of complete chaos in my life, this boy-man who I love so very much, but have struggled to find any common ground, asked me, his mother, questions! I was amazed. Most especially since the questions tended to be about things that I have cared about, not things that he has really cared about...


I share with you, his first question and my response...because I think, perhaps, maybe, this process of asking and telling, shows how very, very far we have come...


Logan


Yesterday’s therapy was the best one I think we have ever had. I am so encouraged by your progress and willingness to work toward goals in your own life. Your letter to me was AMAZING! I cried. This letter shows your growth on so many levels: you took your time (your handwriting was GREAT), you thought of others, you reflected, you weren’t afraid to ask me questions. It is the best letter I have ever gotten.

I sent you a book on mediation. It is great. I also sent you three other books that I have really enjoyed and found super helpful. I hope you like them. They should be there next week!

I AM SO PROUD OF YOUR WORK IN SCHOOL! IT IS AMAZING AND WHAT MAKES ME HAPPIEST IS THAT YOU ARE PROUD OF YOURSELF AND YOU HAVE TAKEN OWNERSHIP OF THIS!

In response to your question: “How can I completely drain my mind in meditation?”

Well, you can’t. I mean sometimes you can and sometimes you can’t. It is the nature of the mind. It jumps all around. I always laugh when someone says “I can’t meditate because my mind will never be quiet!” That is not the point of meditation...the point of meditation is to get to know your mind, sit with it, be still with it, learn to watch it jump around and tell you all sorts of junk. That is why mediation is so important. Because if you do this enough (daily) you come to find that your thoughts are just happening all the time and no one thought is really more important than any other thought which allows you to develop a more curious mind.

Let me give you an example:

I sit down to meditate...

I focus on my breathing. I begin to count...

1

2

Crap I forgot to put the laundry in the dryer - I better go...

It is ok, just sit here, laundry will still be there...

1

2

3

Oh no, I forgot about an early appointment at work, I have to...

It is ok, just sit here, work will still be there...

1

2

3

4

5

I have an itch, I must scratch it right now

It is ok, if you don’t scratch it the itch will leave all by itself.

I

2

3

4

5

6

7

Isn’t that a pretty bird sound I hear?

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

Did I leave the stove on?

1

I hate sitting here, what a waste of time!

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

1

2

Ding! The meditation timer goes off

And so on.

But did you see that eventually I got to the place where I took ten breaths and there was no internal chatter that was distracting me? That for me is not the goal but the payoff. I got ten seconds of peace where my mind was idle and peaceful. Ten whole seconds where I was not thinking, I was not plotting or planning or scamming. I was just there. Breathing in and out in quiet respite from my overly active and loud mind.

For me, honey, the point isn’t to drain your mind. The point is to come to know it well. All the ways it tricks you, captivates you, sends you chasing ridiculous notions everywhere. That is the point of meditation to come to know your own mind well.

For me, because I have sat for so many years on the cushion, just sitting with my mind, watching it jump around, throw fits, insist upon things, spin story after story, I have come to know in my waking life off the cushion that it is doing this all the time. Time that I am not on the cushion, I have come to see it making shit up while I am out there in the world living my life...and I have come to believe it less.

This is not to say that I do not think about my life, or even believe what my head tells me sometimes, but I have come to have a more interesting relationship with my mind, something like this:

Mind:

You are not a very good mother.

Me:

Um, wow, where did that come from?

Mind:

Doesn’t matter, you aren’t.

Me:

Ummm, ok. What are you basing this on?

Mind:

Well you didn’t do this, and you did too much of that and you...(the mind prattles on and on and on, grabbing all kinds of crap it can to bolster the original story about how I am not a very good mother and it is really good at finding things to support its story).

Me:

Well, some of what you say is true. But there are also these other forty million things that I have done well and right. So you are right about some of it but I disagree with your conclusion that I am not a good mom. Thank you for sharing. Have a good day.

Mind:

Wait! Hold on! I am still talking...

Me:

I know, but I have other things to do and you just keep saying the same thing over and over again and I am tired of listening, so I am going to just think something else and move on with my life. Thank you for sharing.

Mind:

What the actual ____?

Me:

Off living my best life not at all concerned with whatever story my mind is spinning.

And this, my son, is how you get free. Not from others but yourself. We learn to do it on the cushion. Even just five minutes a day, gives us ample time to watch our minds in action and come to know them well.

Today my mind conversation goes like this:

Mind:

Some craziness that seems mean and unhelpful...

Me:

Thank you for sharing. I appreciate you telling me that. Then I get on with my day.

The whole point being is that when I do not fall down the rabbit hole of my own thoughts, I can have a little space between the thoughts, which gives me time to formulate something other than my habitual response. And if I am not doing the same thing over and over again, then I have a chance to make some forward progress. I can change. I can do my life differently. I can relate to others better and more fully. I can not be my mind’s bitch, to put it in your vernacular.

Over the years of sitting with my mind and all its story spinning I have come to know it better and because I know it better, I can let it and its myriad of stories be. I have time between thought and action and that has made all the difference. This is how I didn’t drink even when I wanted to. I was able to pause, and mediation is what helped me strengthen this ability.

My mind (and likely your mind) will never be completely drained because no one’s mind can ever be that (well unless you are comatose or dead). But we can come to know our minds well and develop a curiosity about it.

Mind:

Blah, Blah, Blah, same shit it always says...

Me:

Hmmmm, why are you thinking that?

Mind:

Justification

Argument

Defense

Explanation

Me:

That is all very interesting.

Mind:

Well, what are you going to do about it???

Me:

I am just going to let that be...

And that my handsome amazing son, is how you get really, really free.

I love you with all that I am. Keep going!

I love you.

I miss you.

I am proud of you!

Xoxoxxoxoxo

Mom




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