I’ve been in therapy for almost ten years now, and over those years I have tried all sorts of things to help with my anxiety and negative thoughts.
Meditating, guided meditation, grounding work, deep breathing, mindfulness, you name it, I’ve at least heard of it, but none of it has really worked for me in the moment when I’ve needed it to stave off panic.
Meditation can take me to dark places.
I’ve never been good at meditating, especially guided meditation.
Once I was going through a guided meditation in group therapy that was (obviously) supposed to be relaxing, and it went something like this:
“You’re on a beach and you come to a door.”
A door? Why the hell is there a door on a beach?
“You open the door and enter a room. It’s bare but for four walls and a chair.”
Well, does it have a ceiling? Is there a roof? What is the sky like outside? Is it stormy? Are we still even on the beach? Where the hell am I?
My mind just doesn’t…go to the right place if someone else tries to bring me there, and trying to clear my mind and push thoughts away, or meditate in the sense that I notice my thoughts and let them go, it only works for about five minutes before I start having such terrible thoughts uncontrollably swirl around my head that I want to stop.
I didn’t think there was any sort of meditation I could do that would benefit me, until now.
So, what’s this tapping thing?
It’s definitely part grounding / mindfulness exercise, part meditation, part physical stimulation.
My therapist asked me to conjure three people in my head who I thought of as a nurturer, a protector, and a wise person, and in this exercise, I would be imagining what these people are saying to me to encourage me to have positive thoughts.
While I close my eyes and have these imaginary conversations, I’m supposed to alternately tap the tops of my knees with the fingers or palms of my hands. She wanted me to do two sets of twelve, but I found once I tried it that I lost count and couldn’t count while imagining.
Well, it worked anyway.
I didn’t think it would.
I thought it sounded stupid and I felt really lame sitting there with my eyes closed and tapping on my legs in her office, though she promised she wouldn’t stare at me while I did it…
But I found that one of these silly-sounding woo-woo (to me) things actually worked.
Stephen King is my wise man.
He was the first person who popped into my head when she asked me who my idea was of a wise person I would take any advice from.
I pictured him up on stage, standing behind a podium laden with Diet Pepsi and manuscript pages, Stephen, I mean, Mr. King leaning over the podium in baggy jeans and a loose, hanging tee-shirt, saying things like: “Come on now, Cheney, it’s really not that bad, and it’ll get better,” in his signature Maine drawl.
Tap tap, tap tap, tap tap, tap tap…
“Even if you’re feeling this way today doesn’t mean you’ll be feeling it tomorrow, and you know, you can’t predict the future, so there’s no reason to worry about all these things you can’t control.”
Tap tap, tap tap, tap tap, tap tap…
“How do you feel?” my therapist asked me after I’d tried it a few times.
“Better,” I told her honestly.
And I honestly can’t believe it’s true.
What I’ve learned from this is that I need to keep trying new things.
I’ve knocked meditation long enough.
Millions of people swear by meditation, and I know I haven’t given it the chance it deserves in my life.
Now that I’ve learned this one type of strange tapping meditation works for me, to calm me down and get me into a new headspace in a matter of minutes, I want to add more to my arsenal of self-care battle objects.
I don’t know about guided meditations…I think I’ll stay out of doors found on beaches!
But now I know it’s worth it to give new therapies and skills a shot because you never know what might work for you and change your life just a little bit for the better.