I’ve never quite grasped the concept of meditation. Here is an excerpt, verbatim, from a conversation I once had with my boyfriend:
Me: I don’t understand what meditation means.
Him: It’s emptying your mind of all thought.
Me: I literally do understand what that means.
So, yes, as we’ve established before — not a namaste girl here. But the goal here is to try new things, to learn, and maybe to give something of a fair shake to concepts I’ve outright rejected in the past.
I’ve been to yoga classes, but anytime we got to the meditation part, I typically used the time to either nap, or think about what I needed to get done, or sometimes just to contemplate what happened on the most recent episode of “Mad Men.” When I’ve listened to meditation recordings, it’s been strictly with the goal of a soothing sound to put me to sleep. I’ve just never actually tried really following any sort of guided meditation.
That said, I’ve been feeling very stressed and anxious lately. I’m a person with a lot of anxiety, so I try to find ways to keep that at bay. Sometimes that means music, or a funny movie. Sometimes it’s sleeping. Sometimes it’s having a drink, or going for a walk. I know a number of people, however, who tout the value of meditation, so it seemed like a good time to take a real whack at it.
First things first. This photo is not representative of my experience:
I do not have a beautiful, grassy hill upon which to meditate in solitude at my disposal. Sure, there are plenty of lovely places in the park, but I’m not sure I’d be comfortable trying to close out the world around me in public in New York. We’re kind of taught awareness.
So, my bedroom it was. I had to start the recording over ten minutes into the process because it was hard to avoid concentrating on the back pain from trying to sit up extra straight. Fortunately, a prone position is acceptable (score).
Here’s what I discovered: Meditating is really hard. For something that sounds very simple (clear your mind), it’s really freakin’ complicated. Trying to actually just follow the instructions of deep breathing, without letting a million thoughts and worries fly through the air, or trying to concentrate on what the lady on the recording is telling me that I’ll be “ready to face the world with (my) new positive and confident smile.”
Dude, that’s a lot of pressure. And “no thoughts”? Who has no thoughts? When someone tells me to not have thoughts, I have more thoughts. But I swear, I was trying. I was trying really, really hard to just focus completely on my breathing, and on what the recording was saying to me.
And then, just when I felt like I was at least doing okay at repeating what she was saying in my head, and not thinking about other things, she told me to imagine a beach. I get where she was coming from. Sand. Oasis. Ocean. Sunset. Maybe some seagulls. I think the image that came to my mind was the Hamptons in the summer. Crowds. Bikinis. Children. Umbrellas.
That is not relaxing. It is not peaceful. It is why I do not like beaches in summer. It is definitely not freakin’ meditative. But I still tried.
And then the god damn phone rang. Seriously?!
Okay, clearly I am not a peaceful, zen person by nature. I am, however, a stressbug nitwit, and would therefore appreciate having some more techniques of self-soothing at my disposal. So, for those who have found various sorts of mediation or reflective breathing, or whatnot helpful, perhaps you might share some tips or insights?
For your own sake, I advise against using words like “goddess,” “chakra,” basically any word that indicates you are pretending to be an enlightened person, because I will be forced to mock you, and while that’s very fun for me, it’s not especially new.