I’ve taken up meditating. I have been practicing yoga for years and have loved guided meditation ever since middle-school volleyball camp: when we all sprawled out on the gym floor with our eyes closed, to relax after a rigorous session, and the coach had us imagine that each part of our body was being filled with sand. Focusing on my breath while someone tells me what to think or while trying to balance the weight of my body on my hands with my legs wrapped around my shoulders is very different from sitting still with my own thoughts.
I don’t sit still, or do only one thing at a time, as a general rule. I am highly motivated and productive but my method of operation is crap. Once set in motion, I whirl with increasing speed until I spin into exhaustion. In college I worked with my dearest friend, in a flower and garden shop. She once observed that she could actually see me physically trying to move in multiple directions at once. After thirty-five years of amping up until I crash, I am beginning to realize the wisdom in maintaining a sustainable level of functionality. Hence the beginning of a practice to regularly and specifically calm my body and mind.
The first thing I noticed when I started trying to sit still, is that there is always at least one part of my body that itches or twinges, so that I was given to sitting for minutes at a time, utterly desperate to scratch my earfootnosebackelbow.
The second battle of meditation, for me, is avoiding the tendency to grab at thoughts and explore them. One thought about being hungry leads to remembering what I last ate, and what I will eat next, until I’m taking inventory of the fridge and making a grocery list. This is thinking, not meditating. To meditate is to sit and watch the thoughts pass by; to simply notice that I am hungry and move on.
After a few sessions, I learned to let my itches and chocolate chip cravings fall into my stream of consciousness. What happened next was pretty amazing. I noticed for the first time, maybe ever, how extremely fast my thoughts move. My brain is like a video montage of my life flashing before my eyes. When I’m not trying to pull thoughts from the flow, I can see maybe a hundred or more per second.
Once I get rolling, my thoughts flying at warp speed, they are moving far too fast to name them all. But for one session, I spoke into my phone recorder and named as many as I could, as fast as I could grab them. Imagine a train flying by and me reaching out to pluck individual passengers.
Neighbors lawn mower light through my eyelids twisting sensation in my knee.
Strong desire to tuck the hair on my cheek behind my ear shooting pain in my thoracic spine.
What are the other regions of the spin lumbar cervical coccyx am I too old to improve my posture?
My breath my breath neighbors lawn mower sacral.
My mother smiling my grandfather mowing his lawn.
Am I getting sick again the delivery man who just dropped off the new blinds tea sounds good.
Should I take the kids to the park has the mail come yet urge to clear my throat.
My lips are dry I need water now dying of thirst.
How many colds does this make since Summer I need a shower.
My breath a car driving too fast down our street.
The kids are watching TV I don’t feel guilty need water it’s cold I love Fall.
The walk home from school today pulsing behind my knee what are our plans this weekend?
My dad when I was a child our garage my brother as a little boy my mom’s yellow Buick coat rack my husband is building.
I’m hungry my thoughts are as though carried away by a river.
Rush moving from the left side of my body to the right.
I’m in the middle of the water standing on a rock sharp angles and edges big but not flat.
Crow calling outside the window homeless people the slow leak in my car tire.
I want to be writing how long have I been sitting here what should I make for dinner?
I haven’t talked to my husband all day do we have a new movie from Netflix?
I feel strong my breath centered watching thoughts difficulty tracking in a trance like watching The Matrix.
Is my head actually moving trying to follow flashing too fast to acknowledge.
I see thoughts not affecting me gas pain I think I’m meditating.
If someone were to come into the room now I wouldn’t hear them did the lawn mower stop no I just stopped hearing it I bet I even looks like I’m meditating.
This is cool foot cramp don’t fidget itch on my back lumbar my breath is this shirt made of wool?
As you can see, I am awesome at meditating and the inner workings of my mind are mind-blowingly fascinating. I am practically a Buddha. When you’re done making fun of me for publishing my experimental stream of consciousness poem, I will tell you that after I meditate, I feel like I’ve reset myself. I am calm, focused and there is the faint smell of patchouli in the air. It is a most welcome renewal and likely the healthiest addiction that exists. With further practice, I hope to dramatically decrease the amount of wear I put on my body and psyche by not constantly fluttering about at high frequencies, increase my ability to focus, and stop giving into the urge to scratch my butt in public.
I attribute my recent dedication to daily meditation to the recent devouring of 10% Happier written by Nightline co-anchor, Dan Harris. While greatly influenced by this book, I have in no way been compensated for writing any of this or mentioning the book. (Unless you count inner peace.) That would mean I had some sort of business sense and was smart enough to figure out a way to get paid for writing such drivel.