Excuse me while I gag on this sentence:
I’ve been meditating.
I did it today. I did it yesterday.
I’ve done it most workdays for the last two months.
I wasn’t going to.
Everyone does it now, and everyone says to do it, but I have an overactive filter for new-age-garbage-sounding anything. I dismiss it whether it’s good advice or not.
Kind of like my email’s spam system disappears every message with the word penis in it, which has caused me to lose some excellent updates from single friends.
Here’s why else I was resisting meditation:
First, it seemed punitive.
At my Quaker summer camp when I was 10, we had to go to Meeting every day. The whole camp sat silently in a circle on logs. No Walkman or Archie comics allowed. No talking to friends. You wanted to be entertained? Look at the butterfly. Or, stand up and share your feelings about butterflies. 15 minutes on weekdays, an endless hour on Sundays.
That left me with the lifelong equation, Mindfulness = Suffering.
Second, the people who recommended it were either:
A) The most off-kilter, insecure, people I know. The kinds who burn sage any time their feelings are hurt, post lots of sunset-background inspirational graphics about originality, and urgently repost every hoax warning about how Facebook now owns your brain.
B) Motivated, money-magnet types I’d like to be, who say on podcast interviews that meditation is the reason for their success. But my senses tell me they meditate because they’re the kind of people who cheerfully do all the things they’ve heard are good for them. In other words, the kind of people who’d succeed with or without meditating.
Third, yuck to all the talk about breath.
I hate the idea of “focus on your breath” because the word “breath” makes me think of bad breath. Garlic breath. Onion breath. Chronic “someone ate a dead squirrel” breath.
But then one day, after watching a video of a friend and fellow skeptic talk about how great this meditation thing has been for her, I thought:
Would it really hurt me to sit for 5 minutes not looking at my phone?
Removing the “here’s me in my lotus position with candles, plaster Buddha figurines, and some random, carefully curated clementine oranges” Instagram-based spirituality of it all…
Could it actually make my brain function better?
Could it help me stay off Facebook when I can’t think what to write?
Could it stop me from eating a stupid snack I don’t even want?
Could it help me remember people’s names?
Could it get me in a good mood when I’ve woken up with the conviction that I suck at everything and I might as well spend the day watching Vanderpump Rules?
Could it make me an unstoppable, focused creativity machine?
Could it make me write a book or TV show?
I got excited, and decided, “I’m going to meditate.”
I read a mishmash of advice from some blogs, sat on a Moroccan-style poof — as close as I’m willing to get to a floor cushion — and set my iPhone timer for 3 minutes the first day.
3 minutes was up so fast!
Cocky, I ratcheted up to 10 minutes the next day and counted my breaths (ew, that word) to make the time go by.
I also tried picturing the junk in my head crumpling like the items in my computer’s trash icon. I pictured myself drifting in a warm, Caribbean sea because that seemed like a meditation-y thing to do.
10 minutes was long.
Next day, I took it back down to 5 minutes, which goes by fast enough.
It’s now a ritual I do before I go out for my coffee and watermelon chunks.
I guess it’s a “practice.”
I’ve moved the practice to a low stool, because Steven piles the Moroccan poof with Artforum and Architectural Digest magazines which I kept forgetting to put back after moving them.
When he asked why I’d put Artforum on the floor, I had to hear myself say, “So I could meditate.” And, I had to see his “I won’t respond to that” face.
Most days, there’s a will-I-or-won’t-I struggle.
And then I decide I will, if only to prove to myself I’m capable of forming and keeping a new habit.
Also, because what’s 5 minutes, right? I’ll waste plenty more than that during the day anyway.
Also, because Jerry Seinfeld does it.
I’m sorry to report that meditation has not stopped me from doing the following:
– Constantly checking Facebook when I’m trying to work
– Forgetting to pay the housekeeper
– Obsessing about money all day long
– Waking up several times a night and needing to sleep till 10
– Texting and walking
– Texting and tripping
– Blanking on the coffeeshop person’s name that I even had a trick to remember (Molly because she looks like someone who’d take Molly)
– Mindlessly eating the stale peanuts left at the bottom of my Oriental Rice Mix (the store’s politically incorrect name for it, not mine) while trying to think of an idea for a client
– Picking at a thing on my face that is not a zit, but I keep turning it into one as I say to myself in the mirror, “Don’t do this. You know better. You’re making it red. You’re going to leave a scar. You can still stop with no damage, it’s not too late. Now look what you’ve gone and done, stupid. At least put some ice on it.”
– Makeing typos
It also hasn’t generated an extra million dollars in revenue, which is what I was really hoping for.
What has it done for me?
Fuck if I know! But I’ll keep doing it for a while because I don’t want to be one of those people who gave up too early. Someone’s going to tell me, “Aw, you only did it for a month? You don’t see results until you’ve done it for three.”
And, who knows? Maybe meditating has kept me from making some really stupid mistakes.
Maybe if I hadn’t meditated before leaving the house yesterday, I would’ve walked in front of a bus.
Maybe I would’ve gone back to watching Vanderpump Rules, which I watched half an episode of on my iPad before hauling myself out of bed.
And hey, it gave me something to write about today.
Do you meditate? What are your feelings about it?
What’s it do for you, and can you prove it?
TELL ME IN THE COMMENTS.