Meditation for Beginners.

After months and months of telling Ross, “you know what I really need to do?  Meditation,” I got the opportunity to do some this morning.

As I was going to bed last night, I checked my email one last time, and saw a group invitation to a six-week meditation course held at my yoga studio.  It started the next morning.  I thought, “this is a sign.”

So I woke up earlier than normal, schlepped myself to the studio, and sat down for some good old-fashioned Mahamudra chanting.  Each class is an hour and fifteen minutes, with a little intention-setting talk at the beginning by our teacher, and a short time at the end for sharing and dedication.

During the vast expanse of time in between, we meditate.

Now I know this comes as a surprise to exactly no one, but I have a LOT of thoughts.  Really, really persistent ones.  Thoughts about my past, my future, my hunger level, work, whether it’s time to dye my hair again, what my contribution to society should be, if I feel fat, my bank account, what so-and-so thinks of me, if I’ll get to be a professional aerial silks dancer someday, if it really is possible to join the circus, if it’s possible to join the circus in your thirties, clothes I’m supposed to pick up from the tailor, people’s birthdays, how funny it was that one time I was walking around with only one sunglasses lens in the frames and didn’t realize it, the trajectory of my career, the president, places I want to travel, my taxes, back to my past and future.

So I’ve known for a long time that I desperately need meditation, to quiet my mind and be able to rest inside the present moment.  I’ve also known that meditation is a lot harder than it looks.  But what I didn’t know was that my mind is apparently a five year old.

Here is a sample of our morning meditation dialogue a few hours ago:

Me: (Quietly focuses on breathing)

Mind: This is so fun!

Me: Good. I’m glad you’re enjoying yourself.

Mind: I’m just going to hang out here and let you do your thing …

Me: Thanks.  Talk to you later.

Mind.  Doo do doo … hey.  My head itches!

Me: It’s ok.

Mind: I wonder if you have lice!!

Me: Well if I do, we can deal with that later.

Mind: Ok José!  No problem.  Way to be calm in the face of potential head bugs.  Oh, one more thing,

Me:  … yes?

Mind: You know you’re on your period now, right?  What if you, like, had your period all over the floor!  It would get on your mat and on your blanket and it would be soooo embarrassing!

Me: Seeing as how there are about 20 women in this class, I’m sure everybody would understand.

Mind: I think you’re overestimating your company here.

Me:  ————

Meditation Teacher: Expand your attention now from your breath, to encompass your emotions.

Mind: OH BOY!  Did you hear that??  Emotions!  Let’s be happy for a minute!  Here I’ll show you:

Me: That’s really ok-

Mind: Cartwheel, back handspring, stick the landing!  Also, you did a triple axle!!  Because you were on ice skates!!!

Me: … good job.

Mind: And now, we are SAAAD.  Big FROWNY FACE.  Sad sad sad!  Oh poor me, poor little Tolly, I’m so upset and saaaaad …

Me: Alright, listen mind.  I appreciate your ability to make me happy, to make me sad, to generate emotions at will.  But can you please be a little quieter about it?  Because I am seriously trying to focus on my breath here, and you are just a tiny bit distracting.

Mind: (Makes tears spring to eyes)

Me: Ok, what’s going on?

Mind: You hurt my feelings a little.

Me: Oh, I’m sorry.

Mind: Well … it’s ok.  Hey.  I was thinking this would make a really neat blog post when you get home.  So we have to remember everything!  Ok!  I’m going to be like a Xerox machine!  Or a secretary!  Whatever image you prefer, really!

… And on and on it went, for however long we meditated.

I wasn’t keeping the time, but it was long enough to make my right leg fall asleep, and of course my mind had a field day with that. 

I (me and my mind, both of us) KNOW this is a good thing, this guided group meditation.

But as evidenced by my experience today, it’s also going to be extremely challenging.  Sigh.

I’ll keep you posted on progress, ok Reader?