07 August 2011

meditate on this

i see you, smug-hartha
there are lots of things i wish i could do. control people's minds, for one. who needs a whole bunch of superpowers when you can just have one that involves turning other people into your unholy army of the night, out to do your bidding? i wouldn't even control all the people i met all the time, because that would make life both boring and exhausting [in my imaginary world, it's a bit of a drain on energy to do the thinking for multiple people at once.]

on a more realistic plane, i'd like to be able to speak and read a lot of languages really well.

and i'd like to be able to meditate.

i hear so many people talk about the benefits of meditation, of all the things that it brings into their lives and about how much it helps with their lives- physically, mentally, creatively, everything-ly- and the one thing that goes through my mind when i hear this is that i'd like to punch these peaceful, healthy, positive people right in the nose. a horrible notion, probably borne of the fact that i cannot meditate. at all.

i've tried this several times. i've read up on it when simply trying to clear my mind and sit still for ten minutes didn't work. although i'm prone to diving in and trying to figure things out as i do them, i do eventually read the instructions and, when i do, i'm pretty good at following them. but in this case, even after seeking help, i am still an abject failure in the field.

HOW MUCH OF A FAILURE?



when i first started, i think that the problem was with my posture. i tried sitting cross-legged with my shoulders back, the way that every cliche tells me i'm supposed to and found out in a hurry that sitting with anything crossed, even fingers, is a complete no-go when you have low blood pressure. it took about two minutes for both legs to fall asleep from the knees down and leave me completely unable to concentrate on anything but the jabbing, prickling pain in my lower body. i tried several times using mats, cushions, seats, anything to try to allow me to sit in one position and relax, only to discover that, while my brain might suffer from insomnia, virtually every other part of my body can fall asleep within a couple of minutes if i don't move it.

from there, i progressed to trying to do this laying flat, or sitting upright on a chair in an ergonomically correct position. because everything i'd read or been told was that anyone could do this. i'm anyone. i should be able to master this.

but even when i could trick my body into relaxing without turning all cactus-on-the-inside on me, i ran into a problem. it has to do with what comes next. you have to clear your mind.

my issues with this are summed up by this rough reconstruction i had with a friend who is good at meditation:

me :: i can't get the hang of meditating. i understand that you let your body be still, but i'm not sure about the next steps.

friend :: you have to just shut your mind off.

me :: shut it off? is there a switch? like i press my nose and everything goes black? how can i be sure it gets turned back on?

friend :: no, there's no switch, you just have to stop thinking.

me :: stop thinking? isn't that what happens when you're dead? you're telling me i have to put myself in a coma?

friend :: no, you just have to push everything out of your mind.

me :: how do i do that? i mean, i've tried sitting/ lying quietly and relaxing, or just focusing on one thing and the main reaction i have is to get panic attacks about all the stuff i've been forgetting to panic about because of all the stress i've been having. and then i get stressed over the fact that i'm still thinking.

friend :: you just need to let your mind focus on nothing.

me :: i've tried that, but it's very good at finding things i keep stored in there.

friend :: just wait it out, it'll happen.

me :: no, it won't.

friend :: you just have to try harder to let it empty out.

me :: i'm going to stab you in the eye with this pencil and see how long it takes your mind to empty out through the hole.

and that's how i ended up serving a four year sentence for aggravated assault.

ok, i made that last bit up and, really, the conversation is actually several conversations i've had with several people over the course of a number of years, all of whom are able to meditate with ease and who have been completely unable to furnish me with a method of breaking down the barriers my mind throws up to forced relaxation. they all assure me that i can get the hang of it because anyone can get the hang of it. it's just that i haven't gotten there yet.

after decades of sporadic effort.

great, now my foot's asleep...
i'll put some of the blame for this on genetics. my mother went through the dawn of the new age and the cultural ascendancy of the hippies trying to meditate and discovering that closing off her mind to the noise of its own one-man-band was quite beyond her. and apparently, that is her gift to me. [although i'm kind of happy i missed out on the myopia and high blood pressure.]

dom, like me, falls flat on the "tune out" aspect of meditation, which means that, if we ever want to try this together, we'll likely end up having an extended awkward silence and an unspoken competition to see who'll be the first one to have to scratch something.

there are things that i can do that are kind of special. i can't think of any of them right now, of course, because i'm focused on the fact that this one skill that apparently anybody can acquire is completely beyond me. and the killer is that i know that part of the reason i want to do it so much is because it's proven so exquisitely frustrating. it's like my own brain is mocking me.
it'll stop if it knows what's good for it, because if it keeps this up, i'm going to stab it with a pencil. which would probably be an effective way of clearing my mind.

2 comments:

Martin Rouge said...

There are many people who can shut down their thoughts easily, and meditation doesn't always seem to be involved. If I have any suggestions to you is, if you haven't done so already, to explore the zen/chan buddhism techniques. Its not so much about sitting still, than just practicing an activity that requires great attention and detail, which forces the mind to focus on the activity and clears the thoughts. Its like the chinese art of tea, where its not about the ceremony as taking your tea really seriously, so that you pay close attention to the subtle flavors of the beverage, so that the rest of the stuff yelling in your head gets distracted long enough for you to get a break.

flora_mundi said...

Thanks. I've tried that sort of approach before and, while it hasn't worked yet, I do think that it holds more promise than simply trying to force my mind to take a siesta.

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