When most people think of meditation, they think of a scene like the one above. If not a sunset, then they think of a yoga class, or of some shirtless elderly Indian man in full-lotus pose wearing a turban and repeating “ommmm” non-stop every day of his life. I guess I’m one of them – or used to be – and for that reason, I’ve always felt a distance between myself and meditation. While I’ve always wanted to be able to meditate, I’ve just never felt able to “centre” myself to the extent that Mr Ommm does; never been able to shut out the world completely and “focus on the breath” (at least not for more than a few seconds, and even then, it’s usually been while I’ve been choking).
I’ve tried. Meditation is said to bring about countless health benefits – both physical and mental – and having a healthier blood pressure, stressing less, and helping my body regenerate torn muscles and ligaments (or whatever) is definitely something I’d be happy to get in on.
Yet, up until very recently, I had had no luck. Try as I might, I’d always end up noticing that annoying crack in the ceiling at my yoga studio, or realising that I was daydreaming about that hot dude from J-Lo’s clip for “I’m Into You” when I was supposed to be clearing my mind. So, for a while, I gave up. I haven’t done yoga since December, and I still only think about my breath when I eat my Doritos too quickly.
But then, just a few weeks ago, I realised something. I realised that I was going about the whole thing the wrong way. Sure, if you’ve been meditating for a while, you get good at it, and clearing your mind isn’t too much of a hassle. But for someone like me – a total beginner still, despite years of trying – my approach was way too advanced. The problem was (I think) that I would always try to meditate when I already felt serene. I’d attempt it at a yoga class – where I was already feeling relaxed – or while I was sitting by myself in the sun somewhere – again, already relaxed. I realised that, actually, maybe I needed to try to centre myself in a moment of craziness. Just as it’s easier to lose the first five kilos than the last five kilos when you’re on a diet, in the same way, maybe it’s easier to gain a little peace from a situation of chaos than from a situation of serenity. Maybe?
Okay so I realise that this sounds a little confused. Like, maybe I don’t really get it, and maybe I’m just unaware of the universal truth that “actually Dunja, only a truly advanced meditator can achieve peace when it’s crazy all around them”. But I don’t know that I agree.
The moment I realised that it was easier my way (for me, at least) was in rush hour in my car on the way home a few weeks ago. I achieved a little peace in a situation which would otherwise have set me off on a swearing rampage (yeh, I’m a road rager… but only when they really deserve it, you know). I can’t even remember what happened, really – I think someone cut me off, or changed lanes without indicating, and since I was already feeling kind of angry for some reason, it just made these little things worse – but it was then that I found my meditation weapon. My first little tool which led me to my first little meditation success! So what was it?
Strangely enough, it was my third finger. Yup. My key to the world of meditation – momentary meditation, but meditation nonetheless – was the ol’ Bird. Now, before you shriek in disgust at me, know that I didn’t actually do it to the driver. I would never do that. I’ve been on the receiving end of the Bird enough times to know that it’s crude and mean and not at all nice. But right there, in that moment of extreme annoyance, my left-hand middle digit helped me. I didn’t really even mean to do it. My other fingers kind of curled away from it spontaneously. But I did it (pointing it down towards the clutch area) and right away, a wave of peace rushed over me. Right away, I felt better. Like a deep breath, it cleared my brain of the negative thoughts and cut off the negative energy. And since then, I’ve felt Mr Bird work his magic on several other occasions, both on the road and elsewhere.
Now, I know that that is so strange. I know it is. Giving someone the finger is the rudest hand gesture you can give them, so naturally it’s associated with angry, rude, horrible emotions. But in this fine little moment, it solved my problems. It took me out of the situation, closer to myself, and back into a positive frame of mind. I don’t know why, and I don’t think I even want to try to understand it. As a beginner meditator, I have to take what I can get. I have to embrace any little thing which helps me centre my thoughts, or at least gets me thinking about it more often. The fact that it just happened to be old Middle-boy shouldn’t matter, right?
I dunno. I have no idea, really, but that doesn’t matter. Because what is matter? Never mind. And what is mind? No matter!
Eheheh. Give it a go!