Tuesday, April 5, 2011


I have no idea how to meditate, does anybody?

Even if you think you are doing it, I have a feeling you aren’t. The fact that you can tell me "I meditated last night" seems like proof that something else was happening, something like you saying to yourself, "I want to be meditating, and here I am doing it, meditating, it's happening right now, and tomorrow I’m going to tell my friend I meditated."

I told my friend that trying to meditate makes me anxious, and my friend told me that his doctor [mine at one time too] taught him how to meditate during an office visit.

He said I should ask her and she’d show me how—-right then and there. Then he said, "Did you see that picture on the reception desk with her and Andrew Weil, their arms all around each other? Hilarious."

I couldn't stand that office because they had a little waterfall fountain that they plugged in, so you could get a peaceful feeling. But then the receptionist was all mean and disapproving if you were five minutes late, like raising her voice over the gentle lapping of water, IN FIVE MORE MINUTES I WOULD HAVE HAD TO RESCHEDULE SO IT IS VERY IMPORTANT THAT YOU ARE HERE AT LEAST FIFTEEN MINUTES EARLY FOR YOUR APPOINTMENT.

Why would I arrive 15 minutes early for my appointment? Why not just set my appointment 15 minutes earlier? I don't believe in arriving early to make bossy people happy. I also don't believe in bossy people. I believe in myself. My magic is real.

So anyway, what I'm saying is meditating is not healthy for me. My heart rate actually increases. Even though I look very peaceful in the picture below, you can believe that I wasn't.

I don’t like concentrating on my breathing; it makes me nervous. Breathe, step, breathe, step, breathe, step [aaaaaa....fall into my little death hole]. That's what I'm thinking.

I listened to a reading with Li Young Lee, and he said his father taught him how to meditate in this really terrifying way, by chanting: "Deep breath in, thank you, deep breath out, goodbye."

Somebody trying to be helpful once said, "Maybe just don’t concentrate on your breathing? Maybe say a word like 'om' over and over."

I said, "I really don’t want to say that. I think I would feel funny saying that."

“Well, it doesn’t have to be 'om,'" she said. "It could be anything, like 'one' or something."

So I said, “one one one one one one,” and I felt extremely anxious.

I’m not afraid of death, so I’m not sure why listening to my own breathing alarms me. Actually, sometimes when I think about death, I get excited. I’ve always been a very curious person, even about things that may end up being terrible.

I don’t think death will be bad, and I’m not religious, so I don’t know why I say that. I just feel in my bones that it’ll be fine, but even if it isn’t, I’m interested to see what kind of misery it is. It may be nothing, and that would be fine, too. But I’d rather have misery than nothing. I hate when I take long treks out to places and then realize nothing is happening.

I also find those near death experience websites, reading the personal accounts, very comforting. My friend was really sick and she died for a few minutes. Her heart stopped. She swears it was just like in the books and movies. She left her body, watched her own body from above, saw the white light, and walked toward it, feeling nothing but absolute peace and serenity and harmony with all things on earth and other places. Then the doctors used those paddles (CLEAR!] and she came back to life. She said coming back to life was so depressing.

My other friend has a recurring dream over and over. He's walking down a path in a forest alone.

Then he sees a house in the distance with all the lights on. He knows the house is evil and he also knows he has to keep walking toward it and go in.

Then he wakes up, filled with fear and dread.

I said, "But that doesn't mean anything. That's just because you're afraid of dying." He said, "I am afraid of dying."

The dream does sound scary. It's so simple. Aren't simple things scary? There's nothing to misunderstand. You will die.

Lately I have had dreams that are so boring I want to cry. The worst part is that these dreams are lucid, so while I'm dreaming them, I'm thinking to myself, "God this dream is boring." Sometimes I'm scrolling through screens on a computer. Sometimes I'm clicking a mouse. The other night I had one and I was cleaning something, or I had a cleaning feeling.

I was thinking to myself in the dream, "I can't believe I'm having another one of my totally boring dreams. And why can't I get this clean? How hard can it be to clean something?"


  1. Hey, has anyone ever taught you the Ham-Sah mantra from yoga? Not that you're asking for advice here about how to meditate (it might just not be for you, obvs), but if you're interested, I can show it to you. I'm not so hot at meditation either, but for some reason this one actually calms me down and blanks me out as opposed to sending me into an anxiety spiral of hyper-awareness like you're describing.

  2. "an anxiety spiral of hyper-awareness like you're describing." Yes, that is just what I'm describing. I'm game!

  3. I read an entire book about meditation once, and I've always been interested in trying it, but I never have. Well maybe sort of. From what I could gather, "meditation" is just a fancy word (probably thanks to the Victorians) for "thinking". This book talked about "walking meditation", which I think is just walking around and thinking and being aware of your thinking and of what's around you, not worrying about thinking about anything in particular. I think I like that definition because it seems easy, a lot easier than some make it out to be, and also I like walking. I would get bored sitting still. (But maybe that's the point...hm.)

  4. I like walking too, Matt. I find it close to what I think meditation might be like if meditation actually exists. I also love poetry trance, which, again, I assume is close to meditation. I can't fall into poetry trance from any other kind of writing. Which is why I'm forever more stuck with writing poetry, whether I like it or not.

  5. You're overthinking the meditation, which is exactly why people meditate.
    Meditation, for me, is simply the act of gently pushing back anxiety producing thoughts and replacing those thoughts with a focus on what is happening in the present moment-which is usually breathing.
    You can say I'm batshit insane if you want, but this simple relaxation technique helps me with insomnia and has helped me give myself the luxury of a response time, as opposed to walking around reacting! reacting! reacting!

  6. KK,
    Tried again this afternoon. No luck. I won't give up though!