I’ve been blessed lately with deep, still meditations. Consistently quite blissful. As grateful and delighted as I am, I’m wondering this: After years of battling a crazy, restless mind, why now?

I think it has to do with sleeping pills.

I won’t bore you with Joseph’s sleep travails, as they were covered in an earlier post. Suffice it to say that he, and therefore I, didn’t sleep for four long years. Joseph’s gut began healing and he finally started sleeping through the night. Not so for me. The sleep trauma had settled deeply within my psyche, and I couldn’t get more than a few hours of sleep every night.  I was a wreck. A mess. A walking zombie.

Ambien saved me from the brink of insanity. I didn’t like it but I figured it was a necessary and temporary evil.

Temporary is the word in question. I tried for over three years to get off Ambien. Recently I  settled on not being so hard on myself for being addicted to it, and simply took a low dosage every night.

But two weeks ago I got dizzy. I couldn’t go up the stairs standing up — had to sit on my bum and inch up, step by step. That’s how dizzy I was. My research found that dizziness can be linked to Ambien.

That’s all I needed — something that made me so miserable I could finally quit Ambien. My chiropractor gave me some herbal stuff and told me to expect to have a rough 5 days or so. I did but I gritted my teeth, surrendered it to God over and over again, and made it through.

The dizziness disappeared, but the biggest and best surprise of being off Ambien is that my meditations have shifted to a quiet, joy-filled place. I believe that Ambien really messed with my mind — and, now that I’m off it,  my meditations are giving me some beautiful insights.

I see that I’m living in two dimensions of reality. In one dimension is the temporary reality where I  play mother to the difficult situation of raising an autistic kid. In the other dimension is the ultimate reality, where my soul is being gracefully shaped and sculpted by the situations I have called forth in my life.

When I greet Joseph in the morning with a chunk of sweet spiritual practice under my belt, everything seems as usual — but it’s not. Something lingers. A knowing, an understanding that the situation is just as it’s meant to be. A sense of the grace surrounding the whole thing. Gratitude from my heart to God.

I was in this space when we had a Special Needs Moment at the river today. Joseph had decided he was going to do his first jump off a rock into the water — a big thing for him — and so we swam over to the popular jump-off place. We waited in line and, when it was his turn, he put his foot in the wrong place, slipped, and fell hard on his butt. I managed to pull him up just before he slid into the water. Oh my — how he cried. He was in everyone’s way but wouldn’t move; he just needed to cry, sob, and moan.

My typical modis operandi here would be incredible embarrassment and the removal of Joseph from the scene as soon as possible. But the centeredness within me made me react differently. I realized that Joseph wasn’t just my project. Since God had arranged for all these people to witness the melting-down process, they must be a part of it. I apologized for holding people up and when a  person answered quietly, “It’s ok,” I looked at her full in the face and smiled.

Somehow my comfort made others comfortable because, when I’d moved Joseph away to recover, a girl swam over. She said, “Now that he knows where to step he should try again.” Joseph was up for the idea, so back in line we went. When it was almost his turn, a girl standing on the jump-off place guided his foot to where it should go and helped him to get there. Then she coached him into jumping.

When Joseph surfaced from his jump, the whole crowd applauded. It was a happy moment.

Yogananda used to say, “Without God nothing is fun, but with God everything is fun.” Perhaps the gift of deeper, connected meditation is allowing Joseph and me to enjoy life more. Perhaps also it’s removing some of the sense of isolation I’ve experienced for so long.

All I can say is, never underestimate the power of spiritual practice.

Especially once you’re off Ambien.

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