Let Us Speak About Meditation

Ok, so I want to talk for a hot minute about the slightly off-key chorus of balloon animals that resides in my head.

If you’ve ever been around when I’m hosting a slam somewhere you’ll hear me mention during the MC Spiel something or other about NO FUCKING BALLOON ANIMALS. Comes with the territory. At least I’ve stopped requesting that someone build me a paper hat. Rachel Hyman actually made me a paper hat once upon a time ago at a Java Hut slam – it was the Best Slam Evar, as far as I am concerned. But I digress.

So, yes, the talking balloon animals. Or the Radio, I sometimes call it. When I was in social work ages ago, people I worked with referred to it as The Committee, tho’ that label really implies a lot more about judgement than the other names. What I’m getting at is the ceaseless chatter of the mind which goes on ad nauseum, shifts topics with no warning, and distracts like a baws. Sometimes it’s got some judgement, but most of the time it’s more like a 1992 Honda Civic stuffed with some busy eight-year-olds who’ve been up since the crack of omigod eating Cap’n Crunch from the big bowl – Where we going? Are we almost there? Are we there yet? Can we buy candy when we get there? Don’t forget about that book you read in 1987 – I liked that book a bunch. Oooh! This is a good song – I’mma sing along with Avril Lavigne! Holy carp, what time is it? Are we there yet? Where are we gonna go tomorrow? I might be hungry – what’re we having for dinner? You start cooking dinner by getting a clean pan – no no wait – you have to wash the dishes fist. We’ll do the dishes and water all the plants right after yoga. Speaking of plants, the strawberries need to go outside – the windowsill just isn’t cutting it, and the bigger cat keeps referring to it as, ‘salad.’ Are we there yet?

Which is to say, when that shit is turned up, it takes some doing to concentrate.

And I’m trying to learn how to meditate, did I mention?

And I’m rocking the meditation as best I can in spite of them – seriously. I do twenty minutes of yoga, and I generally get as strenuous as I can, because more strenuous means more concentration on balance, which means quieter balloon animals. Then I sit still (or lay down*), and make a brave attempt to meditate – really meditate – for fifteen minutes. I monitor my breath. I scan my body for areas of tension. I sit the heck still. I scratch what’s itching, and then start over again. I vow to do some more research on meditation. I promise to re-read Sit Down & Shut Up as soon as I can find the book again. I promise myself I will find it in the next few days. I think more about walking meditation as a better possibility, give an agitated namaste to the cats (who seem to have zero trouble with meditation, fyi), and get up off their the floor.

It’s not the meditation – I know that it’s all kinds of business, lots of the time, right? At work I’ll be sorting through some papers when all of a sudden -HAMBURGER!-  (I may or may not even be hungry at the time.) Or I’ll be working on a piece of writing that starts off as a pretty interesting thingsy about caravanserei, and then four paragraphs later morphs into an essay on the merits of Avril Lavigne**  touring in the northeast and what bubblegum pop really really really means to me. Or, you know, –ZOMG, TETRIS TIEMZ!- or Did I miss a credit card payment? Was it the eighteenth of the month yet? Luckily, it’s not all the time, but when it happens, man-o-man is it damned distracting.

But listen – I think it might actually be a little bit predictable. It has something to do with being present. I know, right – I’m always freaking right where I am! Yeh, um, no. Maybe physically, sure, but, hello wandering brain, what are you doing, hanging out in tomorrow?*** It’s about being present and engaged.

So I’m working on that (Except, of course, when I’m writing for the big project- then I’m working on peeking in on the lives of my imaginary friends). This is the big work. The work of accepting the present for what it is, instead of slapping a judgement on it. The work of saying tomorrow is grand, and dinner later will be nice, but I can’t – and won’t!- do all those things while I’m in the middle of downward-facing dog, thank you very much. The work of envisioning myself turning the radio down, or, better yet, stepping out of the Honda Civic and closing the door behind me.† The doing meditation with a pad beside me so that I can write down the things I need to remember and dismiss the voice that wants to make sure I don’t forget. The giving myself permission to do one thing at a time – the giving myself permission to forget some stuff, maybe even. This is the really big work.

So, um, any tips and tricks are appreciated.


*Altho’, depending on the day, this may or may not mean that instead of meditating, I take a quick nap on the rug. Oops.
**Don’t even. I won’t listen.
*** What are you doing hanging out in 2012’s tax filing process, ffs? Ok, ok, I promise to update my withholdings soon. NOW GET OUT OF THERE!
†I’ll leave the window cracked, but I will not stand beside the car. Deal?