After upending a display in Coles before storming out of the store this afternoon, I’m wondering if I should perhaps try to harness my inner zen.
Okay, so that didn’t happen, but lately I have been pondering the benefits of meditation.
This year has been a bit…unusual, I suppose. I don’t think that “unusual” is the right adjective but it will have to do. Not a bad year- there have been liberal amounts of toe curling happiness mixed in, but it’s been a bit emotionally intense. There are a number of small things on my plate at the moment. Separately, none of them are a big deal. However when these things are arranged into a little teepee, poured with a liberal measure of “quitting smoking”, and lit with a match, they erupt into an inferno.
I’m not an angry person- though I do have my moments. I’m not a depressive person. If I have any monkey on my back it’s anxiety. I have always been a little bit highly strung, when my thyroid was out it was a zillion times worse; now it’s much better, but I still exist in the ‘Ah, fuck! Shit! Fuckshit!’ part of the bell curve. I know where it comes from, high ideals and high standards and a small amount of self doubt. Thankfully, I have enough self reflection- or self obsession- to understand my shortcomings and want to do something about them. I don’t want to be a fuck up, I want to be a girl who has her shit together, and most of the time I am. But there are days where my inflated ego doesn’t propel me into the ceiling to wake me up before my alarm clock, and, consequently, I don’t leap out of bed feeling like a demigod. On these days, it’s all too easy to come down with a case of the what-ifs.
I have pondered meditation quite a bit. I tend to drift away and daydream in daily life, often with disastrous consequences. I see meditation as the cerebral knight in shining armour who will carry me away to a land of flowers and stable moods.
That might have come from a recent daydream.
However I can’t meditate. I have that monkey mind thing that Buddhists talk about. My brain jumps, alarmingly, from one topic to the next. The calm, level headed CC that lives within me often rises to catch said monkey, hoping to subdue it. But the monkey is slippery, maybe it’s covered with soap. Or coconut oil. Or banana skins. Or something. My point is she can never quite catch it.
For me, meditation is this:
Okay meditation, breathe in…and out…in…and out…that guy at the bus stop was cute, I think he was giving me the eye…maybe…was he really giving me the eye? Maybe not, maybe every guy who gives me a second glance is not checking me out…vain little princess, shit, that’s not conducive to meditation, okay, start again, in…and out…in…and out………..oh wow, I’m not thinking anything, I’m actually doing it, I’m shutting my mind off, I rock – SHIT, okay, in and out, in and……I’m hungry, oh this is so frustrating…
I managed to stick with it for a few days. Life was still the same, as it often is, but I felt slightly different. That’s the point of meditation, isn’t it? You learn to view the thoughts but not follow them. My natural baseline of angst was still there, but instead of letting myself get carried away I recognised it and laughed it off. It was good, but then I got busy and conveniently “forgot”. It’s funny how I never “forget” to dick around on Facebook. I never “forget” to check my WordPress statistics. And I can always remember to Google random shit, such as, “is PMS a myth?”, “pineapple juice semen”, and “is Jonah Hill a douchebag?” The answer is yes to all three, by the way, which is surprising because he was so loveable in Get Him to the Greek…and I don’t know what this says about Google, or my search history, but I typed in “pineapple juice” and it suggested the rest.
So it has occurred to me, while Googling “Barbie Liberation Organisation”, that my monkey-mind may have returned. Or been there all along. Maybe, just maybe, finding some Richard Gere-esque inner calm might be a more appropriate use of time on the bus.
I read the Damien Echols autobiography last year- a book I would highly recommend to anyone. Seriously, read it. Now. Leave the blog and find this book. It’s fantastic. He regularly practised zen meditation while on death row and credits it to helping keep his sanity. So if it can help wrongfully accused, persecuted men, surely it’s good for a nervy nurse?
One of my friends is bipolar and he told me something that struck me enough to stick with me. He said that by learning about and accepting his condition, he can now recognise it and deal effectively. When he starts feeling off: ‘Oh, that’s just my condition’, he shrugs. He knows he has it, he has come to terms with it, and when he feels manic or sad he flags it and continues on with his day. Hence, he manages to exist quite well in the stresses of day-to-day life with something that is quite debilitating to most people. So, by accepting my prerequisite towards the odd internal freak out, I’m hoping that meditation will allow me to flag it and continue on, rather than getting trapped in a rabbit warren of worry.
I thought this, shut my phone, took a deep breath, and said, “Ohm.”
Which is a good way to get a seat all to yourself on the bus.
Of course, my short-lived zen could simply be a placebo effect. I started doing something expecting a response, so I looked for it. Is meditation a self fulfilling prophecy for me? Is my cerebral knight only to exist in bad daydreams had whilst I should be paying attention on the freeway? And why doesn’t Rose Byrne ever smile in photographs?
Perhaps this is something to meditate on. Or Google.