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Thursday, March 12, 2015


I have a bit of trouble with follow-through, especially when it involves logistics. For example, just last week, I mailed our New Year's cards. Last week also contained the husband's birthday as well as my late mother's and my nephew's, which are the same day. 

I managed to select and send a gift for my nephew, and have it arrive on time. He's six, FYI, and per his mother's suggestion, I purchased something noisy: the DVD of "Big Hero 6." The husband, I'm afraid, fared less well. In short, I ignored the approach of his day until it was upon me. That’s the sad truth. And Google gave away my late gift–getting. When he logged onto the computer to update the crossword blog, banner ads for bacon of the month and warm hats with earflaps proliferated. Surprise! (Not so much.)

I’m a bad wife.
Heck, I’m a bad person.
At the very least, I’m a bad gift-giver.
See, I forget about birthdays.

But that’s not my only failing, gift-wise. There’s a gift for my father (Hi, Dad!) on the windowsill of the study. It’s been there since well before Xmas. It’s been there since before my last trip to Washington, in fact, where I bought him another gift, intending to send the windowsill gift later – but in time for Xmas.

And there’s the baby gift for my friend’s granddaughter. It’s all wrapped up with a curly ribbon. Make that a limp, crumpled curly ribbon, since the package has been moving from the dining room table to the kitchen counter to the dining room table to the kitchen counter for umpteen months. Why, you ask? Maybe it’s me balking at having a friend with a granddaughter. That would be a handy excuse. But really, the reason is much more banal. See, I lost the daughter’s address AND forgot the daughter’s husband’s name and I’m too embarrassed to ask my friend for these pieces of information a second time. So this gift is waiting, wrapped. Probably until another friend has another grandchild, because this one has developed past the appropriate age for this gift that I got her six months ago.

However, that is not what I set out to write about. I set out to write about meditation. Specifically, how I can persist in not doing it while simultaneously longing to. As if choosing to sit myself down and breathe is beyond my ability. As if it were as difficult as, say, my daughters’ math homework.

But I digress. Meditation is something I want to do. It is also something against which, now that it has become so popular that the term “mindfulness” is bandied about by everyone except my father and my mother-in-law, I have some kind of knee-jerk reaction. Even though I’ve been meditating – off and on – for a very long time. I can't bring myself to do it now. I can't get back to the cushion. Even the thought of Goldie Hawn blissing out since circa 1972, and Jerry Seinfeld with his TM since circa 1972, and Oprah and Arianna and on and on. I can't.
Gotta love Goldie. And she's helping kids with mindfulness. 

I tried meditation for the first time my senior year of college, for krike’s sake. In my dorm room one afternoon, I sat criss-cross-apple-sauce on one of those large, ubiquitous student dorm cushions. Before I knew it, Readers, I was hovering just below the ceiling, looking down upon myself. Like in that scene in Mary Poppins where they laugh their way up to the ceiling. It was the strangest feeling, detached and peaceful. After a few minutes, I thought, “Uh, maybe I’m not ready for this.” And down I came, gently.  I put aside meditation for a decade or so, until I had a child and was well into yoga.

Well, I didn't mean to catalogue my history with meditation. My point, and I think I may have one, was to show that I have a history with meditation, and that therefore, my current resistance to it is strange. Now that more and more studies come out showing that meditation does work, to some degree, to make people happier, more centered, more positive, more equanamous. Or at least less stressed. I know it works. It has worked for me before. You’d think I’d be all over it. But something about the ubiquity turns me off. It’s little of that fear of people thinking I’ve jumped on the bandwagon now that it’s hit the main strip. And so what? Why does that bother me? You know, as I think about it, I practically hear my mother(step) ridiculing me for wanting to dress like other kids back in high school. Shades of, “If everyone jumped off the Empire State building, would you do it, too?” Is that it? My mother's (step) voice is holding me back? Pul-ease.

Ridiculous, I know. Hard to shake, too.

On a more practical level, I guess there’s another reason. It has to do with the limits of meditation. It’s not in fact a cure-all. As I discovered last year, when I was so terribly, terribly anxious. Meditation hadn’t staved that off. I needed a pill. So then what was the point? I was mad at myself for not being able to overcome my own anxiety with the power of my will to meditate.

And the pills made me feel better. So then I didn’t need to meditate.

But there is a little voice inside me reminding me that now is the time to build up the habit. Now, when I feel good, when I don’t need it, is the time to practice. So that next time, if there is a next time, that the "mean reds" overcome me, I will have enough mileage behind the meditation practice that it just might be all I need. I need to speak to that internal admonitory voice. I need to tell it this. “Just because everyone is into it, doesn’t mean it’s a bad idea.” I’m talking about meditation. I don’t need to prove I did it before it went mainstream. I just need to do it again.

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