My life is pretty hectic at the moment. Besides caring for my 98 year-old mom, there’s my play to worry about and preparations for my move to a retirement center. When I saw my calendar for the upcoming week, I threw up my hands. “Oh no. Not another lunch, coffee, movie!” At my age, I should be thrilled friends want to spend time with me but at the moment, sleep provides me with my only chance to be alone.
Needing more “me” space, I decided to squeeze meditation into my life, hoping I’d feel less frantic. I have meditated off and on for years but an article in Scientific American Mind convinced me to renew my practice. “(Is Mindfulness Good Medicine?” by Hal Arkowitz and Scott L. Lilienfeld, Scientific American Mind, September/October, 2014 pg. 74) Now, for 15 minutes, I sit down to clear my head twice a day.
So far, the effects have been discouraging. When I pause to concentrate on the moment, my body starts to itch — the nose, the ear, my right toe, in no special order. If I’m not thinking about controlling my itching, I’m wondering if I’ve forgotten to turn off my oven, or if I’ve left the hose running in the garden. So far, what I’ve learned about clearing my thoughts is that I become exposed to my inner insecurities. Should I have discussed my colonoscopy with my friend at lunch? What was that look on my neighbor’s face when I gave her a salon coupon to remove facial hair?
To be honest, so much about meditation is a mystery to me. What’s the difference between being mindful and mindless, for example? Why is an empty brain better than one stuffed with ideas? Is the hose running in my garden? No, I have to stop thinking about that.
When I was a child my father promised if I ate spinach, I’d be as strong as Popeye. Well, my bowels are green but my thighs are still flabby. How can I be sure meditation won’t be a similar disappointment?
Enough of this sitting! I need to check that hose in my garden. If I want an empty mind, I’ll wait for dementia to catch up with me.