One of my goals this year has been to meditate more. It calms the mind, soothes the body, and I need all of the above. Especially this week, when I really feel reality slipping and my consciousness dripping all over the floor around me and puddling up in the mattress beneath me, something to take the edge off without alcohol is appreciated.
That’s where meditation comes in.
But the last couple months, sitting still hasn’t been helpful. Making time to stop isn’t meditative–it just makes me more anxious, as in minutes I see all the hours of work I could get done–and then watch as time passes while I merely sit there. That’s not meditation. That’s torture.
What’s a guy to do?
I challenged myself at the beginning of the month to experiment with new ways to meditate. I also challenged my readers to suggest some new possibilities, and although you haven’t said anything yet, I appreciate your silent support. It has helped me think of new things on my own. Have I ever said how much I love you guys?
The first week I went back to basics. I sat on my couch and cuddled up with my dog for a few minutes. The TV was off. The blinds were open. Petting her, and scratching her back, and just letting the cloud of dander puff up around me was peaceful, serene. Part of me knew I could be using my time to work on homework, or to check email, or to do anything else, but being there, I was content. It was hard to break away when finally I had to go. I miss my dogs. I miss seeing them, playing with them, being with them. We used to give her free roam of the house, and at night she would curl up with me and I would wrap myself around the orb of warmth she becomes at night. Now we only let her run around downstairs and I miss that. Going back, making time to give her time, was special.
The second week I–I forget what I did that second week. I think I’ve tried a few things without thinking about it necessarily. I sat out on the back porch one day, just reading. I miss my time outside–I love being outside. The wind in my face. The dirt beneath my feet, or the concrete beneath me. I miss that natural/unnatural juxtaposition. And I miss reading for pleasure, for reasons non-academic. The feeling of having a page turned between my fingers, or the synthetic appeal of my Kindle opening ages of literature before me–I miss this. And if meditation is meant to be relaxing, then being outside and reading a book does it for me. Does it do it for you?
This month I also discovered I could get some free downloadable games on my Kindle and these became my meditation this past week. They’re not “video games” by any stretch of the word, but what I like to call “newspaper games”–things you would do on a Saturday morning over breakfast with a pad and a pencil. They’re word games, slightly intellectually stimulating, but somehow formulaic enough to complement thoughtfulness with rote motion. Sudoku, a logic puzzle called Grid Detective, Jigsaw Words and a few similar games–these sit-down-and-play games are relaxing and entertaining. My focus becomes meditative for the five-to-ten minutes each puzzle occupies my time. Just one more bonus for my Kindle–not only can I read on it, I can play on it and meditate on it as well.
However, with all I’m doing, I’m not really “meditating.” I’m merely doing things that bring me to a calm state of mind, a pleasant and relaxing place to be. It makes me wonder what my intent was when I thought of this goal. Was it to simply become a more relaxed person, a level lower on my stress-o-meter? If that’s the case, then maybe “meditation” isn’t what I need at all–and what I need is merely what I’m already doing: Making time to set aside work and school and everything else in favor of something relaxing, something calming, something meditative.
The truth is all these things I should do all the time, if I have time to do them–and all of these are things I should be able to make time to do. Furthermore, and this is the point I’ve been coming to all month, other things I’m trying to do are just as meditative for me and cathartic for me as any of this: Writing in my journal, writing on my blog, and even doing the dishes–yet these are all the things I fall behind on and all the things I struggle to make time to do. However, if this catharsis is what I’m looking for, shouldn’t these be higher priorities?
I was once told I have a tendency to miss what’s right in front of me trying to find a solution to the problem I’ve perceived. My challenge is not to make time to meditate like I’d thought would fix my problems of stress. No. That’s not what I need to do at all. What I need to do is make time for those things I have forgotten–these things like journalling and playing logic games that fill me with inner peace and do precisely what sitting still can and does do for others. I don’t need to “meditate.” I need to do what I do best–write and think and share my thoughts, my blood, with pages overflowing in ink.