Sunday, December 4, 2016

A Meditation on Meditation

All I have to do is sit still. So why is meditation so difficult?
This is how it usually goes for me:  Sitting still, doing nothing. Okay, breathing, but nothing else. Okay, filtering out any thoughts that don’t have to do with breathing.
In, out.
In, out. Slowly.
Or not slowly. Just watching the breath. Or maybe repeating a phrase in my mind, a two-syllable phrase that matches in, out. One syllable for In. One syllable for Out.
People who practice a type of yoga called Kundalini might use the syllables “Sat Nam.” (Their meaning has to do with truth.) Sat. Nam. Sat. Nam. In. Out. Just breathe. I try it, and it seems to be working. But then, Sat Nam becomes Sat Nam don’t forget to send that email and why are car horns honking.
Is it possible to fail at meditation? Is it failing or is it just part of the journey? And why am I doing this anyway?
I would like to be more focused. I would like to be more productive. That’s why I want to meditate. The times that I’ve been able to block out random thoughts, I have understood what meditation can do for me. It’s spring cleaning for my brain. Bags of worn and outdated thoughts handed over to Goodwill and the cobwebs in my brain closets swept away.
Meditating gives me energy. I can get all of those little annoying projects done, the ones that paw at the back of my consciousness like yappy little dogs. The thought of doing all those little projects overwhelms me when I can’t focus, but when I can, I wonder why I let them get to me in the first place.
I’ve heard about the good things that meditation can do for veterans with PTSD, even the ones whose bodies are whole.
When meditation is working for me, in my mind I sometimes see colors that represent the amount of heat I am carrying in my body. Yellow equals calm, and that’s my normal self. I always see at least some yellow. If I’m having an intense day, I’ll see heat as bright orange or red. If the intensity has passed, the orange and red turn to dark red and then to black. Those colors dislodge and move along the river of yellow calm until they disappear. Do I really see those colors? Since colors exist only in our minds (not in our eyes), I’m going to say that yes, I do see those colors.
I wonder what would happen if everyone in the world would meditate at the same time for ten minutes. All of the billions of us just sitting quietly for ten minutes, eyes closed. (We’d have to make sure that for those ten minutes, nobody was sky diving, frying food or attempting to recite all of the digits of Pi.) Fighting everywhere would stop for ten minutes. Some peoples’ physical or emotional pain might be relieved for ten minutes. Maybe we’d all focus a little bit better after that.
Until recently, I had never meditated for a full ten minutes. Now I’ve even done it for twenty minutes a couple of times. I will try to do it more often. I’ll sit and not think about it. I’ll work harder at doing nothing.