Mindfulness Meditation is all the rage these days. In fact, it’s almost like the new road rage. There is a lot about mindfulness as a concept that really resonates with me, because all but a few of my waking minutes are generally spent dwelling on some tween-novella bullshit from my past or deluding myself into thinking reality is not exactly how it appears. I’ve spent a lot of time and energy thinking about past events to which I have dedicated a lot of time and energy.
I made the decision months ago to become more mindful, and like prior efforts at self-improvement, the first step following such a decision generally involves investing in a bunch of books on the topic that are surprisingly expensive. Actually, the first step in self-improvement is usually questioning self-improvement in the first instance, but let’s assume I made it past that step. (Not necessarily a wise assumption, but I’m running with it for the time being.) Once these books are in-hand, however, the act of actually reading them does not logically follow from the step of having bought them, as you might assume it would. More often than not, the sequence of events involves moving those books from counter-top to bookshelf to floor (and back) long enough for me to forget about owning them altogether, which makes discovering them under the couch that much more meaningful and interesting.
It was in this fashion that I came across my mindfulness collection recently, along with an old sock. Ten pages deep, it occurred to me that learning through reading wasn’t my strong suit, so I got online to leverage that which is my strong suit–paying other people to do things for me. And that is how I found myself in a full-day meditation class recently. The class involved some lecturing, lots of talking about feelings, during which I wholeheartedly tuned out, and three mindfulness meditation exercises lasting anywhere from fifteen minutes to absolute eternity.
During each exercise, I was met with varying degrees of failure:
- Session One: “… how do I know whether I’m sitting correctly … maybe I should have gone with the floor instead of this chair … it would seem difficult to maintain good posture sitting on the floor … I wonder what everyone on the floor looks like now … or are my eyes supposed to be closed … yeah, I thought so, horrible posture … shit, I shouldn’t be thinking about that right now … I shouldn’t be thinking about anything … OK, think about nothing … nothing … nothing … nothing is happening … I can’t just think about nothing without reminding myself to think about nothing, which is thinking about something … does this really help people, because its making me feel like I’m taking crazy pills … let’s try: breathe in, breathe out, breathe in, breathe out, breathe … it would be easier to breathe if there weren’t thirty adult hippies in this room smelling like incense … God, I used to love incense when I was younger, what happened to that … Febreze, probably, because who needs incense with all the chemical smells we have these days … which is not a very environmentally conscious option, I should probably shelve that one … how long was this supposed to be, it’s hard enough to be thinking about noth … OK, I’m really not good at this … in, out, in, out, in, out … where are we going out for lunch, I wonder … I’m really hungry, those granola bars just don’t do it for me, give me some fucking eggs … DAMN IT, this is painful … phew, fifteen minutes done”
- Session Two: ” … breathe in, breathe out, breathe in, breathe out, breathe in, I’m going to pass out, I’m so tired from lunch … probably not the best plan to have people sitting very still immediately after eating a meal … I don’t envy those people on the floor, my stomach is hanging over my pants right now and it would be ten times worse sitting Indian style on the floor … boy, I wonder if that term is offensive to American Indians, surely they weren’t the only people who sat on the ground like that … people have been sitting on the ground since … well … since people started sitting on the ground … thank God for Ikea … alright, back on track, this is impossible, how do I turn off this meaningless dribble … breathe in, breathe out, breathe in, breathe out, breathezzz … zzzzz …. zzzzzzzzzzzzz …. zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz … zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz … zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz … zzzzzzzzzzzzz … zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz … zzzzzzzzzzzzzz …. holy shit, what was that …. did I just fall asleep … sitting straight up in a chair, even … that is ridiculous, I didn’t even know I was capable of sleeping upright … I’m like a horse, but probably not as cool … horses … rad creatures, right … zzzzzzzzzzzz … zzzzzzzzzzzz … zzzzzzzzzzzzz …. whoa what just happened with my head”
- Session Three: “I am not going to fall asleep this time, how embarrassing … thankfully people shouldn’t have had their eyes open to see me slip off the chair but that is totally unacceptable in any event … breathe in, breathe out, breathe in, breathe out, in, out … I mean I paid good money to be here and do this … and I’m doing this for myself, so who cares if I’m swapping garlic-ridden air with a bunch of old … I should definitely be more sympathetic there are people in here who have lived hard lives … granted, I tuned out when they were talking about that but it isn’t all ponies and unicorns and … zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz … I’M AWAKE … did I just say that out loud …”