So, I’ve been talking a bit about meditation lately. It’s one of those things that I know is good for me, but I generally avoid doing. It’s like mental flossing.
Lovely Wife and I actually took a meditation course from my favorite yoga studio before Christmas break. It was great, and even though we missed a week here and there (it was early Sunday, so sue me), I really did enjoy the process of sitting there for a bit and clearing my mind. Or, at least, trying to clear my mind. Sometimes, it just doesn’t want to be cleared.
I often hate being alone with my own thoughts, and I think that’s why I avoid meditation, even though I know even 10 minutes a day helps me immensely. The idea of having to listen to my own inner monologue bitch and moan at me for 10-15 minutes just seems like too much. All of that negativity I throw at myself just gets amplified when I don’t have TV, radio, podcasts, Netflix, and random internet blog postings filling my head up. I use all of that as a white noise to strain out the ugly things my brain can conjure up.
Sorry, I suck, and I’m a worthless human being? Can’t hear you, watching a rerun of Family Guy.
This is the same reason I avoid laying down in bed until I’m completely, ready-to-pass-out tired. I don’t want to have to sit there for a while and let my own inner monologue start to screw with me. “Oh, I should take care of that project tomorrow… well, I should have started it today… but I never start things on time… because I’m an awful human who probably would eat a baby if given the chance…” And that’s only a partial joke about my inner monologue.
To meditate properly, I’ve been told, you don’t have to worry so much about not thinking about things, but moreso about acknowledging the thoughts and letting them move past you. It reminds me of a quote from Frank Herbert’s Dune:
I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
Only I will remain.
At this point, I can manage about 10 minutes of meditation before I start to go crazy. I sit down, get comfortable, close my eyes, and start to gently push thoughts out of my head, like they’re large fluffy clouds. Push, push, push. After I’m clear, I try to just focus on my breathing, waiting for any thoughts to come through. Usually, I can just acknowledge them like some passing ferry in the night, but occasionally I get fixated. I forget that I’m supposed to be like a anti-social neighbor – wave hello, head back inside quickly. Instead, I engage with the thoughts, let them roll around in my head.
Unfortunately, these thoughts are never along the lines of, “You’re awesome, and you should get 20 gold stars!” They’re more along the lines of the stuff I mentioned above. These negative cognitions wrap their tendrils around me and start to drag me down until I realize I’ve engaged. Then… push. Just push it out and start again.
At about the 10 minute mark, I stop being able to maintain the push. My brain goes back into hyperactive mode and can’t maintain the gentle push that it takes to clear my head. I open my eyes and immediately turn on the TV, radio, and go back to my blogs. For those 10 minutes, though, I manage to at least to begin to silence those voices and just enjoy the quiet in my brain. It’s no longer lighting up with all sorts of inputs and processes – it just is for a bit.
10 minutes a day doesn’t seem like much time to do anything. Considering I generally have 1080 minutes in my day (assuming I sleep 6 hours), this is less than 1% of my day. And let’s be honest, I’d probably just waste those 10 minutes elsewhere. But right now, sitting in the Sherman Public Library, the idea of shutting up shop, going outside, finding a green patch of grass and sitting for 10 minutes sounds like both a great idea and something to be avoided with more internet and noise.
Wonder onto which side I’ll end up falling.