Meditation or Medication?

My belly is full of coffee and brunch, my turns in Words with Friends are all played, and I’m up to date on Facebook and Instagram. I have run out of procrastinations.

I sit down to meditate in my bedroom. I want to love mediating. My husband and kids say they’ve noticed it makes me calmer, and nicer. During the actual act of meditating however, I feel anything but calm. I have so much to do, my thoughts vibrate like popcorn kernels simmering before they explode in the microwave.

And yet, I sit in my chair in my darkened bedroom, cross legged like Buddha himself. I put my iPhone on the ottoman in front of me and push play on my meditation app, which is aptly called, Meditation. I start by breathing slowly and purposefully to quiet myself as I’ve been taught. The app gongs to signal the start of the “active meditation” and I feel my belly resting on my thighs. I activate my core and berate myself for surrendering to the call of the cinnamon bun. And then I remember my task and package that thought away.

I start saying my mantra, working it over like a pearl in my mouth and then find myself wondering if my teenager is up yet because he’ll need to eat before he goes to work in two hours. And then I stop myself and package that thought away.

And then I start to wonder what my mantra means. It’s in Sanskrit, and I was told I’m not supposed to share it with anyone and that drives me crazy. But I’m a writer so I start riffing on the word adding ‘ings and ‘ables until I remember what I’m here to do.

I worry that I’m wasting my precious me-only time and chant more urgently, insistently trying to crowd out the other thoughts that keep sneaking in – Did I turn off the stove? Where are my rings? Twelve minutes is a long time. OMG the visa bill is due!

I long for a pencil and a pad of paper to write my thoughts down, so that I might later noodle why they entered my mind at that time. Are they necessary? Are they urgent? Am I going insane?

I sigh again and tune into radio silence. I recall Dan Harris saying in his book 10% Happier that “meditation the longest and strongest high he’s ever had”. Maybe I’m paraphrasing, but that was enough to make me buy the app. My life is actually pretty awesome, but who doesn’t want 10% more awesome?

The gong rings again to signal I’m nearing the end of meditation. I have 30 seconds left to return to earth (which I never left) and here I finally find some stillness but the final gong rings again to usher in the rest of my day and I cling to Eckhart Tolle’s definition that “one conscious breath in and out is a mediation.”

Let’s call that a success. Namaste.

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