There has been a lot of talk about meditating lately and I decided to try my hand at sitting still. What I hadn’t realized about meditating though, was that it’s not just about sitting still. Sitting still is just the tip of the iceberg. Meditating is actually three-fold. You have to sit still, clear your mind and be silent. It’s the meditation version of being a triple threat as a performer.
I’m the girl at dinner that tears the napkin into pieces, then tears those pieces into smaller pieces, then goes for someone else’s napkin at the table before my Mom (or some other senior figure) tells me to stop. It’s why I have all my dates chaperoned (Okay not true, but nonetheless not a bad idea). The point is I have trouble sitting still…so I knew that would be my first challenge.
The next was the concept of clearing my mind. In life we hear this expression all the time: “Just clear your mind.” In all honesty, I’ve never really been sure how it’s done. I mean what’s in a clear mind when you think about it? Is it a white space, a green space, a pastel blue space, or technically no space because it’s clear? Are the floors hardwood or carpeted? It’s kind of like in Friends when Joey tells Chandler to clear his mind for a game Phoebe taught him, and Chandler says “Okay, it’s all clear except for this image of a small, purple lamp. Can that stay in there?” For me that purple lamp would become the possibility of a cream lamp, which I’d realize would go great with a mirrored side table, and before you know it I’m redecorating my entire apartment.
Then there’s point three and possibly the hardest task to tackle: Being silent. As a kid people always seemed to play that game with me where they’d say “Okay Laura, let’s see how long you can stay quiet…go!” Forget the fact that I was never suspicious that I wasn’t actually playing against anyone, I never lasted more than a minute or so tops. Sadly, this hasn’t changed with adulthood.
So what was my first course of action in seriously getting into meditating? It’s obvious isn’t it? I googled “meditation for beginners.”
I clicked the first link on the page (because I’m a really patient person), and the article shared twenty tips for beginner meditators. One of the points directed me to pick a specific room in my home to meditate, where I didn’t eat, sleep or work. I live in a studio apartment…so – having to ignore the latter rule – I actively picked that room for meditation. One of the points also said to meditate with your loved one. It was then I realized this article was starting to resemble my Grandma – a not-so-subtle reminder that I was still single and living in a studio apartment.
I decided to try it for 10 minutes (20 seemed too daunting) and kept certain tips in my head. I was supposed to start by breathing heavily in and out, which – thanks to some experience with yoga – wasn’t a complete fail.
The next point stumped me though, and it was realizing that meditation was an active exercise. I was supposed to be doing something. How could I be active when I was sitting still and thinking about nothing? This led my mind to Paul Rudd teaching Jason Segel to surf in Forgetting Sarah Marshall. My imaginary meditation guru was echoing Rudd’s “The less you do, the more you do!” So now I was trying to meditate but was actually thinking about an absolutely spectacular movie. Was 10 minutes up yet? I was 1 minute in (and I’m pretty sure facing a clock is not allowed).
Another tip said to feel your body parts. But not – like – with your hands…with your mind. So if you think about your feet, you’ll feel your feet. If you think about your calves you’ll feel your calves. In other words, thinking about something makes it so, which just reminded me of those grow-a-boyfriend figurines that you’d throw in water to make the perfect man. Anyone? Bueller?
Then there was the part that said you could sit in whatever position you want. You could lie down, lie sideways…apparently the Yogi cross-legged stereotype didn’t apply to beginners. This disappointed me, as I was attempting meditation 30% to become a better, more relaxed centered person, and the other 70% to look – well – awesome if family and friends ever stumbled in on me meditating. How would they know I was meditating if I was lying down, which could be easily confused with a nap?
You might have gaged by this point that my first attempt at meditation was a bit of a fail, and I’ll spare you the last seven minutes as 4 of them may or may not have been spent making myself a sandwich. All I can say is…it was a centered sandwich. That, and I’ve got a lot of respect for anyone disciplined and mature enough to meditate. Lord knows this potato is not…
– Laura Kosann