Thursday, July 31, 2014

Meditation on Meditation

Years ago, I read an article in Scientific American about the benefits of transcendental meditation. The main one, as I recall, is that you could get away with less sleep. Twenty minutes of TM would make up for a few hours of lost sleep. Perfect for the young party animal I imagined myself to be.

The other main benefit of TM was that the Beatles were doing it. Of course, I had to try this, with the predictable results I later described in this poem …

I am clearing my mind.
I am breathing in and out.
Just breathing in and out.
I am letting go of thoughts, feelings.
I am letting go of judgements.
Like whether this poem should rhyme.
Shit. Again.
I am clearing my mind.
I am breathing in and out.
Just breathing in and out.
In and out.
No feelings.
I am aware of the air coming through my nose.
Moving through my trachea.
My diaphragm swells.
The air comes into my lungs
And into those things … what are they called?
Alveoli?
Shit.
I am clearing my mind.
I am … shit.
I am clearing my mind.
No thoughts.
Just …

Now I find yet another article, this time on mindfulness meditation, in a Scientific American blog post. This time, the benefits are health, brain elasticity, improved attention and concentration, ability to sit through PBS fund raisers, etc. And, in fact, this one seems so easy I have to try it. Basically, mindfulness meditation just means … duh, paying attention to stuff. Instead of always thinking about things, just stop and notice things instead. That sounds easy enough, right?

So here I am, noticing stuff. My fingertips feel the smooth plastic of the keys. I blink repeatedly to try to focus on this high resolution screen. Then suddenly, it hits me. I can feel my amygdala shrinking, as my pre-frontal cortex expands. Tendrils of consciousness reach out beyond the room … beyond the house. I can sense the neighbors moving about, even the subtle vibrations of their lawn mowers.

Beyond them the cars on the highway … aircraft overhead … all reveal themselves to me. Other beings go about their lives. Travellers bustling from place to place, consumed by anxieties about what they must accomplish. A huge swirling vortex of Whitman-esque humanity, oblivious to the futility of its actions.

And then it’s, like, over. You know? It was kinda cool, but, hey, what the heck? Maybe I can do that again, but it’s almost time for “Jeopardy.”

3 comments:

Bill Costa said...

Om.... Om.... On the range...

dan l said...

Peter, since you have some experience with this, if I have too many thoughts, am I being Mindfull?

Peter Davis said...

Dan, I think you're overthinking this.

Seriously, I"m sure meditation is really beneficial, but every time I've tried I either wind up thinking about why I haven't attained some altered state, or I fall asleep.