Checking in…and checking out

That’s one of my favorite lines from one of my favorite songs, Wild, Wild Life, by The Talking Heads.  Because it sums up so much of my life.  I check in, I check out.  I, like so many people, have spent my life checked out.  I’ve found a myriad ways to do it.  When I was younger there were books.  Later came  alcohol, drugs, relationships.  Later there was TV and more recently, The Internet.  Through it all there was food.

Some of you might remember seeing a link I posted on Facebook to one of Brene Brown’s talks about vulnerability.  It prompted me to by her book, and since then I’ve been reading it.  A little at a time.  About a week ago, I came upon a piece about addiction in which she discussed the difference between the disease model of addiction (which is managed very well using the 12-steps of AA, etc.) and “Take-the-edge-off-ism”.  It rang loud bells for me.  That’s me.  I’ll use whatever is handy to “take the edge off”. Otherwise known as checking out.

The opposite of being checked out is being checked in.  Simple, right?  Not so much.

I’m also reading “Full Catastrophe Living,” by Jon Kabat-Zinn, PhD.   I’m starting to work through the 8 week program outlined in the book as used by the Stress Reduction Clinic at Mass. General.  It’s interesting (to say the least), it’s allowing me to check back in, mostly to a body I’ve been checked out of for a while.

Who is to say which came first the fibro or the checking out?  Did I check out of my body because the pain is too hard to deal with on an ongoing basis?  Or did the pain set in as a way of getting my attention, because I checked out emotionally?  I don’t know, and I don’t think I need to know the answer to the question.

Here’s some things I’ve learned in the last 2 weeks:

1.  Eating with my eyes closed, really paying attention to every single bite of food: taste, texture, temperature, etc. is like being on acid (not that I have any personal experience with LSD, but what I imagine it would be like).

2.  I am almost completely unaware of the fact that most of the time my teeth are clenched.  As are muscles in other parts of my body.  I’m trying to bring awareness to this, a moment at a time, and release it.  It’s a work in progress.

3.  I spend a tremendous amount of time sitting in judgement of myself.  It’s a bad habit, is not productive, and I’m trying to stop it.  Again, a work in progress.

4.  The inside of my head is a very busy place.

5.  Cleaning up, aka putting my toys away, whenever I finish what I’m doing not only keeps my house cleaner, but is an exercise in mindfulness.

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4 comments to Checking in…and checking out

  • Thanks for sharing your insights as they evolve. We are all works in progress – a process that often requires our active participation. And it starts with mindfulness.

    • Harriet

      And, by definition, mindfulness is one of those things that comes and goes. Which is why my mentor suggests that one meditate every day, whether one feels like it or not. Good advice for me to take today.

  • Linda

    Wow, you really are working. Your analogy of the fibro is interesting. Yoga helped me get in touch with all the parts I hold tight in my body and also Kent putting the biofeedback electrodes on those tight places. I know you are not a Christian and this may not work for you, I have been reading Joyce Meyer. She is so helpful to me to put positive things in my busy mind instead of the judgement stuff. I am not going to shut up my mind, I can control what it says. All this inner work is hard stuff so keep keeping on, the growth is amazing!!!

  • Harriet

    Thanks, Linda. Not sure if that model for fibro fits, but I’m trying it on for a while. I’d love to do some biofeedback for some parts of my body. I wonder if my insurance covers it. That’s something for me to check out.