My prayerful and meditative journey of late–beginning lessons of the soul

Every morning when I wake up now I start it first with a period of contemplative prayer, followed by a period of mindfulness meditation.

I only began to pray recently, in the last few months when my physical suffering at times became unbearable. Emotionally too I was struggling with questions about why in the hell I should be going through all this. Before that I had a pretty cynical and even anti view towards prayer for myself, though I always gladly accepted prayer from others.

I like the way Daniel Mackler refers to prayer in this post on being your own therapist here:

Prayer, a hateful word to many because it is so misused (by ultra-religious people) and so disrespected (by those traumatized by the ultra-religious), is a wonderful form of self-reflection. It is done best in silence and privacy, so that only you and your own heart can hear your deepest desires and needs. Prayer is a chance to go as deep as you can consciously go, and a chance to let your soul air its most beautiful truth. The most original and honest prayers open the deepest doors, and let us know who we really are and what it is that is most important to us in our lives. They say that prayer is talking to “God,” and when we remember that the Kingdom of God is within, and that “God” is really just the best of our truest inner self connected with the truth of the whole universe, we remember that when we pray we are talking with our best friend in the universe.

So anyway, I start each day in this manner. Prayer with word and thought in my mind, I speak my heart to the universe, and then meditation with the goal of being present with whatever is in my being and embracing it completely. This may include painful and unpleasant feelings as well as positive. I try to embrace it all and simply be with it.

Lately I’ve noticed that I’ve started to feel guilt about my part in the mess I find myself in. At first this made me uncomfortable, but now I’m choosing to view it as a step in the right direction because I believe it’s always been there. Guilt and anger at myself for getting to this place. For taking drugs for 20 years. For poisoning my body, mind and soul for 20 years. For denying my true being. For letting others control my destiny. Huh? Stop, right there. We cannot let others control our destiny and that is exactly why this feels like a good process. We have choice and volition in the way we allow others to effect us. We may not be conscious enough to recognize this and there are times when we are so vulnerable that, yes, people hurt us, but ultimately if we don’t take responsibility for how people effect us once we reach adulthood then we give away all our power.

As I forgive myself for my collusion with all the doctors and mental health care providers and just people in my life (boyfriends for example) and how they’ve hurt me—as I let go of anger at myself for trusting people and GIVING away my power, I can also then stop being angry at all the people I perceive to have harmed me so gravely. I was there. I could have walked away. I could have said no at any time.

I’m not talking about childhood here. What happens when we are children is in a different category and I still need to work on some of that stuff too. And it’s most likely a very different process.

It’s not to say all those people in my adult life are innocent. It’s simply realizing none of us are innocent. I’m not innocent. We all take part in the dance of humanity helping as well as hurting others and ourselves at different times.

I’ve been very angry at a few specific people in my more recent history of tackling my problems because I thought they shared my views unlike the psychiatrists of old, and indeed they do. But in trusting them implicitly  because they shared my views I actually gave away more of my power then I did to some of the traditional docs. And so I felt much more betrayed and hurt when these people failed to be perfect and made decisions that I went along with that hurt me very badly. Are they bad people? No. And neither am I. And neither were most of my traditional psychiatrists. There were a couple who were truly control freaks, but for the most part I had nice people I worked with even in traditional psychiatry. The man who prescribes the last bit of Klonopin to me, is a traditional doc and a beautiful man. He is allowing for my self-determination even if he is also actively prescribing to others.

In fact he has embraced my truth and needs much more profoundly than the last couple of alternative docs I worked with who had control issues of their own. But I also see that these people meant well, much like my traditional docs,  but simply had dogmas of their own. A different kind of dogma, perhaps a safer dogma over-all that don’t involve toxic drugs, but a dogma nonetheless and they wanted to put me in their boxes much like other more traditional docs.

All of us do this sometimes. Yes, me too. And in seeing myself in all these people, I am letting go of the anger at myself and thus, what I’m really doing is stopping my internalized anger from going out and blaming others externally. Externalizing my pain in rage at others is simply not stopping to look in the mirror. All these people have been mirrors for me. Teachers. I am slowly embracing this. Slowly being able to thank god that these people have been in my life and taught be valuable, if painful lessons. Some of them, more recently, have given me bits of extremely important information that helps me heal in practical ways as well. My supplement regime that allows me to sleep so well is a result of the knowledge and wisdom of one of these imperfect souls that hurt me. I must be grateful for that assistance and I am.

I will end here with a quote I posted just yesterday.

When there is no enemy within, the enemies outside cannot hurt you.
African proverb

This is a process. I have by no means let go of all anger, rage or hatred inside myself. That is most likely impossible.

Part of this process has been aided by special people in my life who have no desire to control me, but honor me with great respect and have been signposts in the right direction. To them I am profoundly grateful. And they work in tandem with those who have hurt me as teachers. Life is strange, no?

Peace.

add to del.icio.us : Add to Blinkslist : add to furl : Digg it : add to ma.gnolia : Stumble It! : add to simpy : seed the vine : : : TailRank : post to facebook

About Monica Cassani

Author/Editor Beyond Meds: Everything Matters

31 Responses

  1. I know the guilt-thing. I used to feel guilty, that I let my mother control my life/me to the extent I let it happen. And I mean also after I’d become a grown-up. Because it is indeed something completely different, when you’re a child. You can’t just leave, or even confront the controlling person, because you/your survival depend/-s on pleasing them.

    I don’t blame myself that much anymore. Because, as a matter of fact, even as a grown-up, I still didn’t know what awareness was. Allowing others to control me/my life, and this being crucial to my survival, was all I’d ever experienced. I didn’t know, that I could take control myself. I wasn’t even aware of the fact, that I was not in control myself.

    Like

  2. Gianna: yes. Actually, the moment I accepted and started to forgive myself, also was the moment I started to forgive my mother. And the paradox is, that this was provoked by my therapist saying: “Under these circumstance I don’t expect you to ever being able or willing to forgive.” But well, that was a full accept of my experience. And I guess, I needed that, so that I could accept it, me too, and forgive… While I’ve met I don’t know how many people, who never were told other in therapy than that they would have to forgive. And guess what. It only put them in an even more unforgiving mood…

    Like

  3. HI Gianna: I am embarrassed to write that after all these years of Buddhist study and prayer, and of advocating spirituality to others, I currently find myself unable to believe in my own prayers. That is why I have been so silent lately. I hope you will forgive me. Although I don’t know what to do with my own prayers, I still believe in yours and in your courageous journey! Thanks again for all that you do.

    Like

  4. thenutrientpath

    Wow. This is transformation at its best. What energy will be freed up for you and your true passions.

    In admiration, Sue

    Like

  5. Aw, this brings tears to my eyes. I feel so lost lately, I don’t even know where to begin. I keep letting my psychiatrist hurt me, letting him call my beliefs “fringe”… but I won’t take the medicine. Even if I go psychotic (again), it’s something I need to do. And I sit here, scared about that, every single day of my damned life.

    Like

  6. Thanks Gianna,

    I tapered quickly off of Abilify, hadn’t been on it long. Have been off of it completely for 5 weeks now, no problems. Still on 100 mgs of Lamictal, scared for that taper because of how sick you got (my psychiatrist didn’t believe your story… he sure was curious about it… I can’t STAND it when it becomes ever so obvious we know more than they do)… also I take 1-2 mg of Klonopin as needed, which is usually around once a week or so, but for the past three nights I’ve been taking it every night. I just want a new brain…. Psychiatrist just fucking beats me over the head every time I see him that Armageddon’s gonna happen if I don’t take my meds… it throws me into major anxiety every single time…

    Like

  7. pat

    G,

    This post is very deep and aware. As I read it, we met somewhere in a place where we are the same. Thank you for that moment of spiritual connection.

    P

    Like

  8. Thanks again, Gianna. I know your story is extreme, but that’s what makes it so frightening. Knowing you now, I can’t IMAGINE how you got intimidated into take 11 MG… 11 MG!! of Risperdal, et al. (And yes, I did listen to the radio broadcast…) I mean, if this can happen to you, it can happen to anyone. I noticed that the length of stay on the meds AND the dosages were just starting to get longer and creep up with me, and I just dropped out of the game entirely.

    I know I probably need to find another doctor, but I lost my non-Medicare insurance recently (hubby got laid off) and I’m afraid the next doctor is going to be even worse. At least I’m used to this one… as much as he makes me feel like sh*t, I’m used to it, a new doctor could bring a whole new level of sh*t, and also be more expensive outta pocket. I’m spacing out the visits more for now…

    Like

  9. In the big picture, after all you experienced, you are still alive and capable of producing work and enjoying life. What more can you ask for?
    Maybe this is the path you were meant to take, as you may be helping others with your information and knowledge on this website.
    If you like who you are, all the things experienced in the past that made you you are critical in your creation and message today.

    Like

  10. Giannakali,

    Even though I have only tried it once, I have had enormous help from a psychologist who works with meditation.

    He uses Zen-buddhistic, vegetotherapeutic meditation, calls it Clinical meditation, and it is so centering…

    Don’t know if a similar approach exists elsewhere, but I would guess it does. His name is Eivind Balsnæs, and one of his articles on the importance of breath is at http://www.wilhelmreich-huset.no/PustensBetydning.htm

    Sorry – couldn’t find any English articles by him.

    Thank you for a wonderful blog. I hope you know that your courage, dedication and honesty gives hope to people who really need a ray of sun in their lives.

    Like

  11. doe

    Thanks, Gianna, for sharing this. As I get on less meds, I have a lot of anger issues coming up that are harder than usual to “control”…have had to apologize twice this week to coworkers I’ve gotten snippy with. I’ve actually been afraid of losing my job, but I tend to exaggerate and think my “outbursts” are much worse than they actually are.

    The African proverb is so helpful. I wrote it down. I know the reason I get so easily hurt and offended by others is b/c of the enemy inside of me. I’m trying to be more compassionate and kind to that enemy.

    Like

  12. Gianna,

    You’ve written some very good posts….this may be my favorite…..

    I enjoyed it because it was honest…..more honest than most of us are willing to be…..You admitted to being less-than-perfect yourself, while describing your own mistakes as lessons…..teachers…..

    You also made so many clear distinctions – between what happens to us as children, and what happens to us as adults….between recognizing injury, and learning to forgive, versus forgiving without this recognition….

    Also, what I enjoyed reading was your ackowledgment of good people along the way, an appreciation for all you’ve learned, and a willingness to continue to grow…..

    These things….this type of writing, is why I love your blog!

    Of all the subject matter on your blog….the spiritual posts are always my favorite….This is because spirituality is such a fascinating subject to me….I think it calls me to want to become more, and appreciate life more…..

    What a gift this life of ours is….even in the pain we experience…..Througout each of your posts on the subject of spirituality are themes….re-occuring themes – of centering, focusing and finding the present moment; of recognition that life has pain…..and, learning to work through the pain (rather than take the short-cut around it); of an appreciation for the growth that comes from fully-embracing life….with all its joy, and in all its sorrow….truly living….

    I find your will incredible – not your will to survive….this is instinctive….your will to live…..to truly live….this is what I find inspirational.

    With much gratefulness,

    Duane

    Like

  13. Dear Gianna,
    I agree with Duane. This is truly a wonderful piece.

    What I like the most about what you’ve written is your candor and your insight. While your angry essays can be very powerful, this one has an inner strength that is even more compelling!

    What so interesting is that what you’ve written seems to echo so many thoughts I’ve been having lately, although you’ve thoughtfully articulated what I’ve been struggling to understand.

    During this past depression, I’ve been thinking a lot about why I let this go on for so long. What was my part in it? What didn’t I “get it” sooner? Why have I (and my son and husband) had to go through such anguish with all this?

    I, too, realized that I have been angry at so many people, but perhaps I am most angry at myself. And my grief and loss became overwhelming.

    I, too, recognized that in order to heal, I need to forgive myself, and it’s been a painful and difficult realization. And although I’m working hard at it, I haven’t been that successful.

    But, knowing that you’re going through this as well–and can see it with such clarity–is not only very helpful, but it makes me feel like I have a soulmate, and that’s very comforting.

    I love you!

    Susan

    Like

  14. lablover

    Gianna –

    There is no doubt that God spoke to me this morning through you. I can’t tell you how much it touched me – words just aren’t there.
    As I’ve sat through these last few days riddled with anxiety from job loss and Klonopin withdrawal hell, I”ve wondered how I would survive it, if I would survive it (and I’m only talking about 1/8 mg reduction every 3 weeks!). I’ve thought about giving up and just going back to my 1 mg. dosage.
    You helped me this morning – I won’t reach for the pill bottle. I’ll get through today, then I’ll worry about getting through tomorrow.

    Ultimate, unlimited blessings –

    Like

  15. Sally Clay

    Dear Gianna and fellow readers –

    What a gift this blog and all of you are. Altho I am at this time living in a period of darkness, still I can take great comfort just in knowing you are all there. Thank you, Gianna, and I am so happy for your success.
    Love,
    Sally

    Like

  16. Jeanne

    I am developing a sense of radical compassion, the awareness that my power lies in understanding and accepting the world as it is, the recognition that my extreme mental states have been a gift that humbles me and puts me in touch with the shattering pain that others experience. Right now my spirituality is simple: don’t do unto others what was done to me. The only control I have is to choose not to commit violence against myself or others. It may be that my job in life is to take all my frustration and irritability and transform that energy into something creative & healing; in short, take hate, make love.

    Like

  17. Hi Gianna,
    I know it was a little while ago now that you drew my attention to this post. Thanks for that, BTW. I haven’t not commented til now because I wasn’t interested – just that I knew I wanted to write something that I needed to think about first. And I haven’t quite been in the right headspace for that. Its like that with some of my blog friends’ posts, including this one. Its not personal!

    It is a wonderful post, you’ve clearly been doing a lot of self-reflection about all of this. And its wonderful.

    Prayer is, of course, something I’m an advocate for, as a yogini. I think prayer is personal, and not something any particular religion can lay claim to. Its not for everyone, but if its for you, then you know it. I’m glad you’ve found it helpful.

    There’s a fine line between taking responsibility for our own actions and blaming ourselves for things that weren’t in our control. You say you could’ve walked away… perhaps this is true, but then, perhaps at that time you couldn’t? Whatever the reason, I think there’s limited value in carving up the responsibility for past deeds too finely. You can drive yourself mad like that. I sure have!

    Anger is a tricky foe, and a foe it is. I do think, though, its possible to overcome completely. Not in the ‘I’ll never be angry again’ way, but in the ‘I’m really at peace with what’s been’ way… allowing things to be as they are. I do think its possible, but it does require us to stop owning the things that’ve happened to us as though they define us. And that can take a long time to be ready for.

    Your African proverb is apt. Its those enemies within that are the most difficult to overcome because they’re the sneakiest b@*#ards in town.

    Peace to you! 🙂

    Like

  18. Amazing, is it not, the effect that honesty has? Just when I get the idea that now that I’ve told people my darkest secrets they’ll never trust me again, I find them (at least, those who dare to look at their own struggles) coming out of the woodwork to tell their story, too. Reminds me of something James wrote: Confess your faults to one another, and pray for each other, so that you may be healed.

    Thanks for sharing this beauty, and for speaking humbly and authoritatively.

    Like

Comments are closed.