Finding the Beach
You know that feeling when you’re lying in bed and relaxing, and then there’s like a next level of relaxing that happens, like a plunk and you’re down and your breathing slows and suddenly you become aware of how smooth the sheets feel and how fluffy soft the pillow is? How heavy you feel? Or if you’re with another body, there’s that micro-adjustment that happens when you click into position snuggled in just perfectly, when gravity takes that arm that’s flopping over and makes it heavy, when you let your muscles fully give in and you give your whole body weight to the other person, the pillow, the bed, the ground and it feels really good? Solid?
I could try it right now, sitting in this chair, just breathe right out and deflate and breathe in and inflate and let my shoulders drop without pushing them down, let myself feel their own weightiness letting them sink down on their own. I could lean back in this chair just a tad more, flex and relax my back in this chair, stiff after only a few minutes sitting here. I could relax my face, all of it, feel my jaw release, and notice how much slower my breathing just got. Notice the letting go of the constant effort of opening my eyes as wide as I usually do.
It’s pretty cool, to be able to access that kind of relaxation any time, and it would be even cooler if I did it more often. I remember to, sometimes, in times of total desperation or I’ll do it when I’m reminded to in yoga class or meditation meetings. But feeling good just being alive is not a habit for me, yet.
I had this friend who was in a sober living facility here for a month. She was pretty diligent about the whole thing and came to our meeting every morning. Our meeting room is about two blocks from the beach. On her last day, after she took her one-month chip, I invited her to go walk on the beach with me. I’d invited her before but she’d always been too busy, had errands to do, step work to do, who knows.
We got there and she was amazed at how beautiful it was, how good she felt with the morning sun on her face and the sound of the waves, the feel of the sand. She told me she’d had no idea the beach was right there, just a short walk from the meeting. No big deal. At first I felt guilty, like I should’ve told her sooner the beach was right there, should have pushed her more to see it sooner. Then I felt grateful that she was feeling good and recognizing how wonderful it was just then at that moment.
I said that our walk was the perfect analogy for everything in this program, this life. You just keep showing up and it seems for a while, a long while, life is all about a little fluorescent-lit rectangular room and then one day you discover the beach that’s always been there, where the birds are flying and the waves are crashing and the wind is blowing and the sun is shining and there’s space to just exist among it all and feel good.