A MOSTLY FAILED EXPERIMENT, RECONSIDERED.
I attended every single meditation class. It was an enjoyable experience. Blogging about the classes became a chore very quickly, but I felt like I’d created an obligation that needed to be fulfilled. This, quite logically, resulted in me not only failing to continue to blog about these classes, but flat out avoiding the act of even logging into my blog for several weeks. I will not live up to my promise that I would write an entry for every class. Furthermore, I have done a very bad job continuing to meditate now that the series of classes has ended.
I feel no need to apologize, but I’d like to try to explain myself, if only to try to get to the heart of why meditation, an activity in which I assure you I am truly interested, is thus far failing to fully catch on, to become part of my daily, or even weekly, routine.
SO IN THE COURSE OF MEDITATION, YOU DON’T REALLY TRAVEL TO A MAGICAL LAND WITH BUDDHAS FLYING AROUND ON MAGIC CARPETS AND FLOATING FLOWERS AND DUCKS AND STUFF?
Either that, or I’m not doin’ it right. The results are not immediate, and difficult to process. You have to put in some real grunt work. While a lot of people probably wouldn’t equate “work” with “sitting motionlessly with your eyes closed”, well, I urge you to try it sometime. It’s work. And while work is apparently not a bad thing according to people who have found success and happiness through its application, the fact of the matter is that luck was also a huge factor in the good lives of those condescending, fortune-favored pricks, who were placed here by God simply to torment poverty-stricken, idiotic cowards like you and me. Work is awful. The hell with it.
THAT’S ALL VERY WELL AND GOOD, “BUTTHORN”, BUT IF YOU JUST SIT AROUND DOING NOTHING YOU’LL NEVER…WAIT A MINUTE, MEDITATION IS SITTING AROUND DOING NOTHING! WHY DO YOU HAVE A PROBLEM DOING THIS AGAIN?
Like I just said, it’s more strenuous than you might imagine. It’s nothing like being sprawled on the couch with a brewdog, watching reruns of “The Larry Sanders Show” on Netflix, an activity I highly recommend, way more than meditation. Your brain goes into overdrive (during meditation, not “Larry Sanders”). You can actually physically feel your brain thinking in your head. Subjects and feelings arise, many foreign, unwelcome, long-dormant…most likely some unholy fusion of the three. There’s an element to it of self-psychiatry. At the end of a particularly lengthy session, I often found myself very aware of my temples. They throbbed and felt weirdly cold. I would drive home in a confused but not unappreciative daze.
I THOUGHT MEDITATION WAS SUPPOSED TO BE RELAXING…
Yeah, no shit, me too! It isn’t! Not the way I do it anyway. The teacher routinely stressed to us that there was no “right” or “wrong” way to meditate, but my brain just as routinely dismissed this as so much hippie bullshit. Tell me how to do it so I can do it! Otherwise we’re just sitting here quietly stressing ourselves out! Right? I dunno. I kept waiting for a “key”. A revelation…something. A few times I felt like I almost had it, which would encourage and excite me momentarily, but then I’d think “well, what if this ‘almost’ feeling is as good as it gets with this stuff? If I devote hours and hours of my life to this practice, only to get this close to a breakthrough of some sort, why put myself through the torture when I could just as easily lie on the couch and watch ‘Larry Sanders’?” ”Nothing ventured, nothing gained” is probably what it all comes down to, though. Man, I hate that phrase, due it seeming like it’s probably true. If there’s anything I hate more than meditation, it’s venturing.
SO YOU HATE MEDITATION?
Nah, I’m just frustrated with it. I want it to be something that it maybe isn’t.
WOULD IT HELP FOR YOU TO GO BACK OVER YOUR LITTLE MEDITATION JOURNAL FOR INSPIRATION OR “CLUES”?
I’m glad you brought that up. You know what’s interesting about that meditation journal? It completely fucks my entire meditation experience. Which is totally not what I would have expected. For my money, there are no experiences so solid that they cannot be improved upon by filling a cheap notebook full of asinine thoughts dedicated to the doings and feelings associated with said experience, but meditation, I have to say, appears to be the exception that proves the rule, a phrase I’m not sure I entirely understand and probably shouldn’t be using. All I know is if I’m meditating, and that little blue meditation journal is resting on the floor beside me, just waiting to be christened with my pithy observations on and canny interpretations of my “sit”, then I, a longtime people (and apparently notebook) pleaser, am going to be all too tempted to oblige it by mentally steering my thoughts in a particular and more entertaining direction, hamfistedly carving jokes out of nothing, or worse, out of potentially helpful realizations. While in the act of meditating, a turn of phrase or a silly description would come to mind, and I’d strive to remember it for later inclusion in the journal, passing it off as “automatic writing” when in fact that would have been the very opposite. And that extends pretty directly to the blog. Knowing that I’d set the expectation that I’d be dedicating an entry to every class, I desperately eavesdropped on my fellow students, hoping to snag an out-of-context bon mot for later use, frantically searching for a statement or mildly amusing but generally mundane events that I could exaggerate into something even passingly anecdotal. As opposed to, you know, listening to the teacher, or, you know, meditating. Commenting on everything around you is a lot of fun, and it can lead to some good and interesting writing, but I think in looking for a freakshow or a “fish out of water” comedy I at least partially cheated myself out of what could have been a much more beneficial experience.
SO ARE YOU DONE WITH IT, OR WHAT?
Nope, just done writing about it. From now on, it’s just me, my brain, and a pillow or a wadded up sweatshirt – whatever’s nearby; the idea of buying one of those special meditation cushions makes me uncomfortable. You and I will just have to find something else to talk about. There’s lots of possibilities! Rummikub, Swiss chard, non-holiday Charlie Brown specials, the tattoo of David Paymer I’m thinking of getting on my chest, pumice…
(By the way, if you’re trying to figure out why your head’s up your ass about something, it turns out that pretending to discuss it with a no-nonsense, passive-aggressive disembodied voice who speaks in capitalized bold print is actually a pretty effective learning tool. I may solely rely on this method of soul-searching for the foreseeable future!)