A Meditation Story
So, you may have heard, I’m feeling in a funk. Cures for the blues are like cures for hiccups, everyone has one that works for them–or worked for that person whose blog they read, or for their sister, or their grandma. Physical activity seems key in many of these cures and I know the day is better if I run or do yoga or go to the gym. I haven’t decided if the improvement is because I’ve gotten my “ya-yas” out, like the kids say, or because running and yoga both get me out of the cramped, dark space that is my own head and into my body. My body is a much larger and simpler thing than my brain. Its needs and impressions are immediate and unmediated. Paying attention to that is a good thing and also, I think, a teeny part of what meditation is all about: focus on the breath, let go of thoughts, be compassionate with yourself.
So, this morning after yoga, I decided to set a timer for 5 minutes and sit cross-legged for those 5 minutes and meditate. No mantra or slogan. No image or compass. Just focusing on the breath moving in and out for five minutes. I knew five minutes for a newbie, even one whose just done some yoga so is “prepped” for this kind of thing, would be an accomplishment. So I sat. And breathed.
And then the thoughts came. My brain, it would appear, is like a little hamster on a wheel and the hamster thinks it has to keep the wheel turning or . . . . the wheels will fall off . . . or something . . . .and that those thoughts are crucial and connect things and show me who I am and by their mere persistence demand attention. I thought about work. I thought about my posture and my abs. I thought about what meditation means. What does it mean that I’m trying to meditate? Is this ridiculous?
I stuck to the plan, however, labelled those things “thinking” and went back to the breath.
Then I really began to feel uncomfortable sitting cross-legged on the carpet. Maybe a different position would work. And why do my eyes have to stay open? Looking at the pattern on the couch is very distracting. Maybe I should close my eyes. Or keep them open. (breathe, those are thoughts, you are breathing).
Maybe I should write about trying to meditate and how I stink at it? (shut up, that’s not compassionate or gentle. Thinking. Stop Thinking. Breathe.)
Gosh, these are the longest five minutes EVER.
(Thinking. Stop that. Breathe. )
Could I really do this every day?
(Stop thinking, Jennifer. In. Out. Breathe.)
Ok, I’m going to peek at the timer. Seriously, this has gone on forever.
So I look at the timer and I’ve been trying to meditate for 13 minutes. I had set the timer but did not press “start.” I had given myself 5 minutes, telling myself that if the kids got up 5 minutes late, which they would if I had to wake them when I finished, it wouldn’t be the end of the world. Now that five minutes was closer to 15 and the calm and in-the-moment-ness I had been seeking through the meditation attempt threatened to go Right. Out. the. Window. with the first wail of protest from the eldest: ” Why are you just getting me up now? I’ll never be on time now!! MOOOOOMMMMMMMMMM!!”
My pointy finger came out and I took a breath, mustering energy and verbiage for an expression of my lack of interest in or compassion for a 12 year old who doesn’t set her alarm clock and then wants to make it Mom’s fault. And then, I dropped the finger, let go of the rant and said: get up, you have a clock. Keep track of time and don’t make this about me. I am not going to be angry this morning.
And I wasn’t. At her. At me. At anything.