Excuse me while I gag on this sentence:
I’ve been meditating.
I did it today. I did it yesterday.
I’ve done it most workdays for the last two months.
I wasn’t going to.
Everyone does it now, and everyone says to do it, but I have an overactive filter for new-age-garbage-sounding anything. I dismiss it whether it’s good advice or not.
Kind of like my email’s spam system disappears every message with the word penis in it, which has caused me to lose some excellent updates from single friends.
Here’s why else I was resisting meditation:
First, it seemed punitive.
At my Quaker summer camp when I was 10, we had to go to Meeting every day. The whole camp sat silently in a circle on logs. No Walkman or Archie comics allowed. No talking to friends. You wanted to be entertained? Look at the butterfly. Or, stand up and share your feelings about butterflies. 15 minutes on weekdays, an endless hour on Sundays.
That left me with the lifelong equation, Mindfulness = Suffering.
Second, the people who recommended it were either:
A) The most off-kilter, insecure, people I know. The kinds who burn sage any time their feelings are hurt, post lots of sunset-background inspirational graphics about originality, and urgently repost every hoax warning about how Facebook now owns your brain.
B) Motivated, money-magnet types I’d like to be, who say on podcast interviews that meditation is the reason for their success. But my senses tell me they meditate because they’re the kind of people who cheerfully do all the things they’ve heard are good for them. In other words, the kind of people who’d succeed with or without meditating.
Third, yuck to all the talk about breath.
I hate the idea of “focus on your breath” because the word “breath” makes me think of bad breath. Garlic breath. Onion breath. Chronic “someone ate a dead squirrel” breath.
But then one day, after watching a video of a friend and fellow skeptic talk about how great this meditation thing has been for her, I thought:
Would it really hurt me to sit for 5 minutes not looking at my phone?
Removing the “here’s me in my lotus position with candles, plaster Buddha figurines, and some random, carefully curated clementine oranges” Instagram-based spirituality of it all…
Could it actually make my brain function better?
Could it help me stay off Facebook when I can’t think what to write?
Could it stop me from eating a stupid snack I don’t even want?
Could it help me remember people’s names?
Could it get me in a good mood when I’ve woken up with the conviction that I suck at everything and I might as well spend the day watching Vanderpump Rules?
Could it make me an unstoppable, focused creativity machine?
Could it make me write a book or TV show?
I got excited, and decided, “I’m going to meditate.”
I read a mishmash of advice from some blogs, sat on a Moroccan-style poof — as close as I’m willing to get to a floor cushion — and set my iPhone timer for 3 minutes the first day.
3 minutes was up so fast!
Cocky, I ratcheted up to 10 minutes the next day and counted my breaths (ew, that word) to make the time go by.
I also tried picturing the junk in my head crumpling like the items in my computer’s trash icon. I pictured myself drifting in a warm, Caribbean sea because that seemed like a meditation-y thing to do.
10 minutes was long.
Next day, I took it back down to 5 minutes, which goes by fast enough.
It’s now a ritual I do before I go out for my coffee and watermelon chunks.
I guess it’s a “practice.”
I’ve moved the practice to a low stool, because Steven piles the Moroccan poof with Artforum and Architectural Digest magazines which I kept forgetting to put back after moving them.
When he asked why I’d put Artforum on the floor, I had to hear myself say, “So I could meditate.” And, I had to see his “I won’t respond to that” face.
Most days, there’s a will-I-or-won’t-I struggle.
And then I decide I will, if only to prove to myself I’m capable of forming and keeping a new habit.
Also, because what’s 5 minutes, right? I’ll waste plenty more than that during the day anyway.
Also, because Jerry Seinfeld does it.
I’m sorry to report that meditation has not stopped me from doing the following:
– Constantly checking Facebook when I’m trying to work
– Forgetting to pay the housekeeper
– Obsessing about money all day long
– Waking up several times a night and needing to sleep till 10
– Texting and walking
– Texting and tripping
– Blanking on the coffeeshop person’s name that I even had a trick to remember (Molly because she looks like someone who’d take Molly)
– Mindlessly eating the stale peanuts left at the bottom of my Oriental Rice Mix (the store’s politically incorrect name for it, not mine) while trying to think of an idea for a client
– Picking at a thing on my face that is not a zit, but I keep turning it into one as I say to myself in the mirror, “Don’t do this. You know better. You’re making it red. You’re going to leave a scar. You can still stop with no damage, it’s not too late. Now look what you’ve gone and done, stupid. At least put some ice on it.”
– Makeing typos
It also hasn’t generated an extra million dollars in revenue, which is what I was really hoping for.
What has it done for me?
Fuck if I know! But I’ll keep doing it for a while because I don’t want to be one of those people who gave up too early. Someone’s going to tell me, “Aw, you only did it for a month? You don’t see results until you’ve done it for three.”
And, who knows? Maybe meditating has kept me from making some really stupid mistakes.
Maybe if I hadn’t meditated before leaving the house yesterday, I would’ve walked in front of a bus.
Maybe I would’ve gone back to watching Vanderpump Rules, which I watched half an episode of on my iPad before hauling myself out of bed.
And hey, it gave me something to write about today.
Do you meditate? What are your feelings about it?
What’s it do for you, and can you prove it?
TELL ME IN THE COMMENTS.
Leo Tat says
I’ve been meditating for the past two years now. It initially started with 15 mins, then up to 45 mins and back down to 5-10 mins, just because its easier to incorporate into daily practice. If find that after 10 minutes, my mind can stop wondering to anything (it does within 10 minutes but more so after). I have used all sorts of techniques, counting, breathing, mantra, music, binaural beats, visualisations. The most success from a meditation session I found once when I meditated for 45 minutes to music (of a frequency). During that 45 minutes, I felt I was just bored. But when I finished, I felt amazingly relaxed, like I have been on a long holiday. Could never recreate this again. Also, there are on some (but rare) occasions during my mediations, that I feel my inner voice quietens and my sense myself floating. Love that feeling, but it doesn’t happen often enough.
That was so funny, loved it. I meditate but I haven’t done for a while and I miss it, because I don’t feel overwhelmed when I take time to calm the rippling of my brain waves.
I’d be interested to know if anyone here DOESN’T pick at their face. And then I want to tell them to get lost. It’s like people who can stop eating as soon as they’re full. HOW?!
Laura, I’ve never meditated for all the reasons you’ve mentioned, but your endorsement has gotten me the closest I’ve ever been to considering it. Maybe it will do something to counteract my smartphone neck so I won’t get a huge hunch in 20 years!!
Elizabeth DiAlto says
Seated stillness meditation isn’t you’re only option you know…a lot of humans, women especially don’t vibe w/ seated stillness. Anything that lets you slow down and be a bit more present can be considered a meditation. Your daily walk for your coffee and watermelon chunks (maybe you just leave the phone at home), putting on a song you dig and dancing it out, if it gets you out of your head and into your body feeling and sensing, it’s a win.
Why do you think I created Wild Soul Movement? Because a lot of other embodiment practices were boring or I couldn’t stick to them so I made my own. Terri Cole, whom I think you know and would guess you enjoy because she’s hilarious is a great meditation teacher. And davidji who is a hilarious, amazing Jewish man from Queens that used to work in the World Trade Center then went on some adventures with Deepak and turned into a spiritual teacher who is still hilarious, amazing AND loves to watch TV!! is another teacher I bet you’d dig if you’re really looking to turn this into something that works for you in a way that doesn’t require you to do things that make you gag 🙂
Laura thank you so much for writing this. I have felt the same way about meditating, despite being one of those insecure people who occasionally burn sage when feeling sensitive (btw your comment made me even more insecure) 😉
In fact, meditation has been a source of insecurity for me for years. I was raised by a New Age mother and have tons of friends who do it really well, while my mind can’t shut off the negativity button. My sucky meditation practice has become just another opportunity for me to feel like an ass. Where’s that sage?!
Good luck with meditation! I hope you give us an update 🙂
Charlotte Smith says
You’re so funny, I love this, and I eat up everything you write!
I’ve been meditating off and on for years.
I always ‘feel’ better, respond better, and feel more peaceful throughout the day when I’m doing it daily for months.
I run 2 super-busy businesses, which includes managing 5 employees, hundreds of farm animals, a retail store, tons of customers, and all the stress that each of those categories brings.
I handle the running of my empire with grace when I’ve been practicing daily meditation. But those times in my life where I decide I’m too busy and go a couple months without practicing it, the stress starts to take over and rule me rather than just feeling like the stress is a low-level, manageable hum in my life.
So there’s my proof it works! It’s good enough for me.
Also, the word “breath” does for you what the word “stool” does for me; haha you sat on a stool!!!
Kelly the Kitchen Kopk says
I’m a new-ish reader, and I’m just wondering, you know you’re describing prayer, right? It’s just a matter of acknowledging that you’re chatting with & spending time with our Creator. Even if you’re not sure what you believe, maybe just ask Him to show you more. That’s when you start to see cool things happen in your life. 🙂
You’re so funny.
I’ve decided I only comment on blogs I think are funny. That’s it. Too much doom and gloom in the world.
Yea I meditate but not when I’m busy and there’s some saying for that. Like I’m supposed to meditate more when I’m busy.
I think I’m going to get back to it. Specially now that I know you’re doing it Laura! Such a good influence.
Charlene Ross says
OMG – I love this so much! Every time Depak and Oprah throw out that free 21-day meditation I sign up. And last about 3 days. (Not in a row, BTW.) But last week I decided that was because they make you sit there for 20 minutes, and who’s got time for that? (Answer: not me! Of course that means Depak would tell me I need to meditate for 40 minutes, but I digress…)
Anyway… Last week after watching your buddy Marie Forleo’s video on her meditation practice I decided to give it another whack. I put on some groovy meditation music on Spotify (damn those commericials are distracting) and set my timer for 10 minutes. You’re right. That’s a long time. A REALLY long time. But… it’s getting (a little) easier. And on Monday my timer didn’t go off (don’t know why) and I actually mediated for 16 minutes before sneaking one eye open to see what was taking so damn long for my timer to go off. 16 minutes and I didn’t die! (I did install a new timer app on my phone.)
I don’t know what the fuck it’s done for me either, but it’s been less than 2 weeks and I will say that I have been more productive than usual this week. But I also played Candy Crush while watching Survivor last night. (But hey, maybe that counts as multi-tasking.)
P.S. Makeing typos – that’s funny! (might even qualify as punny!) 🙂
I just go on a walk everyday around 2pm. It’s kinda like meditation.
It helps clear my head and gets me away from my desk.
I meditate. I guess I’ve done it my entire life–I just didn’t know there was a name for it. Do you believe in a higher being? Because that’s the point. Even if your higher being is a rock, Wayne Brady, your dog, or yourself. (Secret: Our higher being IS ourselves as we are actually God—thank you, Wayne Dyer.)
Anyway, If I’m guidance, I’ll ask the question during meditation. I usually get my answer later in the day while I’m driving to work.
I’ve meditated before, but not consistently. The longest stretch I did once was every day for 1 month. In the beginning I loved it. I used to wake up already stressed out about all the things I had to do during the day, and meditating first thing in the morning helped me get rid of that stress.
My problem though was that I increased the amount of time over the month, so by the end I was doing 15 or even 20min. That was too much, so I just stopped. I should have just stuck with 5 or 10min.
Like you said though, I don’t know if it helped me with other things in my life like when I get distracted at work or lack motivation to get started on difficult projects. It mostly just helped me to not be stressed first thing in the morning, which is worth it I guess. I should try to start doing it again for just 5min.
Yes I meditate, every day. And I don’t use my breath, not into that either. I couldn’t live without it, and I never. ever. miss a day. Been doing it for about 15 years now and I’ve transformed my life because of it. It is like putting a penny a day into your inner bank account and only over time does it create some resiliency and inward strength – credit to draw upon. Also like homeopathy – builds potency only over time and with rhythmic doing (every day). Also depends on the exercises you use, so make sure they are good ones that suit you and your needs. 5 mins is perfect!
Doug W. says
I meditated two days ago for the first time. I realized after a half hour of breathing while lying in a dark room with ear plugs in – that it was more like a nap. maybe I did fall asleep for a few minutes actually. Ok. It was a nap.
Marian Schembari says
BWAHAHAHA. You kill me.
I fucking love it. I use the Headspace app every day. Why? It doesn’t make me more money or help me eat healthier. I do it cuz it feels good. I just genuinely like being silent for 10-15 minutes. I do it after lunch when I’m usually feeling a little scattered and overwhelmed. But 10 minutes of quiet totally resets my brain and helps me get clarity on what I need to work on next (instead of watching 12 episodes of The Mindy Project).
Jerry Seinfeld (and Howard Stern and David Lynch etc.) practice TM. And that means twice daily meditation, each 20 minutes in length each. Not a minute more and not a minute less. They do not count their breaths. The repeat their mantra and enter into a different state of consciousness.
But thank you for reminding me to finally make this a daily practice myself. I took the TM course earlier this year and have made continual excuses to avoid doing it.
So, first time for me responding to a blog. Any blog.
Loved this post.
Tried meditating for a few weeks. In the bathroom, on the floor, with the fan running (only “quiet” place in my house). Kept falling asleep.
Gave up and decided to just take a nap each afternoon.
Copy Cure alum – it’s fantastic. Everyone should do it.
Would write in complete sentences, but I’m off to watch a new show: Vanderpump Rules.
Thanks for the post!