I’ve been meditating.
You probably guessed that, what with the headline and all, but I still find it a little difficult to say. I meditate. Just about every morning, for 15-20 minutes, I sit down, and I put on my headphones, and I try to get my mind to just sit there, and stop tossing up stuff to wrestle with. It’s all more than a little circular, as it’s me, and my mind, trying to influence my mind, which is continually serving up a volley of things to be contemplated by … my mind.
I’m thinking less today about the practice of meditating than I am about how hard I find it to talk about it. As I’ve become more regular about it, really getting it in every day, I’ve begun to be unable to sneak it in. When it was a little more erratic, I’d just wait until there was no one home before I tried to sit down. I’d sit in my closet, on the floor, to avoid being seen. Or I’d do a little faux pre-sleep meditation, using the same techniques I use to meditate to end my day. Whatever I had to do to avoid talking about it.
But if you wait until the conditions are perfect to mediate, especially if you live with 5 other people, you’ll never do it. I finally had to start saying, I’ve been meditating, and that means I’m going to go sit in my room for 15 minutes, and I’d prefer you just left me to it.
I had to open my eyes and tell my husband what I was doing when he walked in on me. I had to tell various children who were home for various reasons on school days that I needed that time.
Ordinarily, of course, one could easily go into a room and be undisturbed for 15 minutes (for example, try cleaning the bathroom) but the minute you start behaving oddly—just sitting, for goodness sake, who does that—and a small crowd gathers. It took weeks for even the dogs to get used to it.
So I’ve admitted it. And then I managed to get even a little more brave and tell my husband and one of my best friends why I meditate, which ironically has something to do with why it’s so hard for me to admit to doing it. I tie myself up into knots over worrying that I’m not meeting others’ expectations of me. I have these lengthy conversations in my head with all the people I imagine I’m disappointing, from the inevitable parents to the police officer who just drove by going in the other direction. And those thoughts take up so much room. They fill my head up so that if something else happens—I need to be patient with a child, maybe, or take time to think about a response to an email—it can barely get in through the chaos. It looks a little like this:
You do not want your mind to look like that.
So, I meditate.
Here’s the thing, though. People from Texas do not meditate. People from the midwest do not mediate. People who grew up in my family do not meditate. People who are serious and not flaky do not meditate, unless they really deserve to meditate, because they deal with things like war zones and conflicts, in which case they are allowed to meditate because it’s unlikely it will lead to them starting to talk about healing and care and vulnerability, which, you know, we don’t talk about. Not if we want to be taken seriously.
If you do happen to meditate, you probably need to be teased about it. Just a little joking about Hare Krishnas and ommmm, that will set you right up. Because to meditate requires that you take your mind and thoughts too seriously. It’s one thing to need to be taken seriously. That’s serious. But meditating? That’s just silly. Or—ooh, this would be good—what if you need to be teased about worrying about being teased about meditating? Because if you’re good enough to meditate, you’re surely able to handle a little teasing about it, right?
Here’s the other thing: no one I’m mentioned meditating to has actually said or implied any of the above.
They’re all in my head.
Which is why I meditate.
How do I meditate? I use the Headspace app, which I love, and which is where the little image of the mind lifting weights is from. I recommend it.