Meditation for the Attention Disabled

I suffer from creativity toxicity. Okay, you got me, I made that one up. The fact is, though, my brain has trouble, shall we say, staying put. I’ve always been able to focus when I had to and I get through the day just fine; my day just has more unicorns, intergalactic wars, philosophical queries and extreme home makeovers than most. Generally, I appreciate that quality in myself. After all, when you want to daydream in class, it’s a lot more fun if you are suddenly sitting in the orchestra pit playing bassoon under the direction of John Williams, who has just written a brand new cinematic soundtrack to your favorite book, or putting two friends who have never met together in a post-apocalyptic world and imagining how they might figure out how to get to the nearest Walmart to get the last remaining supply of brown sugar and cinnamon Pop-Tarts. (What, you thought I was going to say guns? Come on, brown sugar and cinnamon Pop-Tarts are a necessity.)

Sometimes, however, it would be nice to take a breather, in a manner of speaking. A while back I was prescribed ten minutes of meditation, two times a day as part of a therapy regimen. I had studied meditation before on my own and knew it wouldn’t be easy for me. I laid back, I closed my eyes, I started breathing deeply from my diaphragm, I imagined how much money I would put into my savings account if I won the lottery versus how much I would give to charity and where I would go on a shopping spree, I breathed deeply, I thought up an idea for a new board game, I breathed deeply, I pictured what I would do if my favorite puppy suddenly came back to life, I breathed deeply…

I eventually realized that meditation is the one thing I have tried that I couldn’t become better at by trying harder. And that’s when it hit me. At some point, I realized… this is it? I’m not really doing anything. I’m not really doing anything. I was just there, in that one spot, while the universe was active all around me, and I wasn’t doing a thing. And for once, that was okay.

I’m still terrible at meditation, but that doesn’t mean that it hasn’t added something to my life in its own way. I love the meditation channel I created on Pandora.com, and listen to it almost daily. I remember to frequently breathe deeply from the diaphragm, something I had lost sight of after my singing days; it tricks the body and mind into relaxing. And, if even for a second, I love that mindless feeling of just being and having that be more than enough. It’s also nice, in a world of competitiveness and productiveness, to have something that effort actually renders counterproductive.

For anyone interested in meditation, I highly recommend Happiness: Essential Mindfulness Practices, by Thich Nhat Hanh. It follows Buddhist principles, but can be used by anyone of any faith, as it is really about experiencing mindfulness in the present moment. (I find adding prayer to my meditation to be incredibly soothing as well.) The simple act of reading that book is indescribably relaxing in and of itself. It’s sold in both kindle and paperback versions at Amazon.com. Happy meditating!

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