Sometimes, the enormity of the wrongness of things holds me in place like a pile of x-ray blankets. Other times, it triggers a feverish hyperactivity—anxious, spinny, sound-and-fury-signifying-nothing stuff.
Both states feed on themselves. I can spend hours either way. Days. Weeks. Spare me your stories of single, lit candles banishing darkness; in times like these, the ability even to curse is a holy gift.
Still, I am learning tools—simple, time-tested tools I’ve known about for ages. Perhaps what took me so long to pick them up was that they are counterintuitive: when I am jangly, moving works (especially extremely long walks); when I am locked, the solution is to be even more still. I have a certain part of the couch where I usually do this, and an ancient word to focus on, but that is about it as far as the formalities go. I sit in whatever silly clothes I’m wearing, legs crossed, lower back supported, and let the word float up somewhere just behind my forehead. 20 minutes in the morning, 20 more in the evening. For a year now, no less.
When I open my eyes 20 minutes later, on rare occasions I am actually buoyant. (This tends to happen when I’m able to sit in the company of other sitters.) Equally rarely, 20 minutes doesn’t seem to make a dent.
Most of the time, though, when I’m done with my sit, things are a bit better. Not horrible, not wonderful, but better.
What’s taken me the longest to get is that any one of these three afters is not why I sit. I sit to sit, and that’s it.
And that is more than good enough for me.