Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Practical Meditation

You all know that I've been interested in meditation for a long time, and have had some interesting experiences meditating (like that time when my limbs got all expansive and universal-like.  That was better than shrooms.  Not that I know what shrooms are like, dear tenure committee members and law-enforcing-type officials and taxpayers and older family members reading this blog).

But, frankly, I've not ever been able to keep up meditation as a daily practice.  Certainly, I have done things that approximated it:  daily spiritual reading, some chanting here and there.  And I think running can be pretty meditative.  Still, there has been no daily sitting down and quieting of the mind, even though I've needed it.  Oh, I'd try.  I'd sit for a few minutes and then feel really, really called to pop a load of laundry in the washer.  Or I'd get all anxious and need to do some online shopping.  So it seemed sort of counter-productive all in all.  I didn't know for how long to sit or why or anything like that.  It just was too hard to make it a daily practice.

Then, when I had my mini-meltdown in San Diego (which maybe was not so mini.  Maybe more of the life-changing variety) I had that phone conversation with N., which she probably thought was kind of inconsequential but was actually really, really important (she's always doing that to/for me, as best friends do) and she asked if I could go meditate to get a handle on the freak-out.  I think I tearfully responded uh-huh, but the answer really should have been nuh-uh, because I wouldn't have known how and it probably would have freaked me out even more to try in that moment.

There isn't really a knowing how to meditate, you say.  You just get quiet and let the thoughts go by.


But I need more help than that.  I'm a first-world bozo.  You'll see.

Anyway, N.'s question rang in my head for a while, and I wondered if one of the things I really needed to figure out how to do was to sit and be quiet with myself for a while and quit running away so much.

Happily, this budding awareness of my need to start meditating coincided with my getting this Christmas present from my grandma:

That, in case you don't know, is a Kindle Fire.  Or a Kindle Fire in its little cover, at least.  Ruby saw a commercial for it a few weeks before Christmas and asked me if I wanted one for the family and I said yes and she sent me the money for it and then it became mine because it's the best present I've ever had and I love it and use it all the time and I don't want anyone else to have it because it has changed my life.

I'm selfish that way.

Don't tell Grandma.

So, the Fire is awesome for so many reasons.  It can pay music from Amazon's cloud, where we have uploaded more than 5,000 songs from our collection.  It can play movies and t.v. shows streaming from Amazon's excellent collection, which fills in holes Netflix has.  I'm watching The Tudors at the moment, which is like porn, set in the 16th century.  All those loose and flowy nightgowns.  Totally awesome.

The Fire can play stuff from Netflix, it can access email if you like, it's got all the Droid apps.  It directly connects to your Amazon account, and I know this makes me a corporate shill.  So be it.  It has all of my books and magazines.  I can catch up on all my blogs via google reader.  It's friendly and sweet and unassuming and easy to use it and I love it.  It was only $200, too.  Jesus.  That's less than a coat from Boden.

But my favorite thing is the Insight Meditation Center app:

It allows you to design preset meditation times.  It has specialized gongs to remind you to return to your breath, and different gongs to let you know you're done.  It even shows you who else is meditating around the world when you are.

All the wind up for that.  A lame plug for an app.  Sorry.  You're terribly underwhelmed, I can tell.  But I'm overwhelmed, because this thing has me meditating every day, and it's so easy and delightful.  It's my wee technological meditation crutch, but it's profoundly good medicine.

This post is already too long, so I'll talk about the benefits I'm seeing from the actual meditation later, and why maybe this time is different from the other times I got all worked up about meditation.  But if you've thought about meditating, would like to try it...I don't know.  There's an app for that.

Ew.  Sorry.  Had to do it.


  1. Thanks for this!! I'm doing it! Started this week, M too... I'm using the app too...I have actually been able to drag myself out of bed, M sets the wake up alarm. I go downstairs and get my short time in the sewing/guest room. I'll update my progress laters.

  2. Wooo!! Thanks for this post. I'm doing it. I'm using the app too. Just started this week and I "think" I'm gaining benefit from it already. M's idea, he wanted to start meditating. Morning...sewing/guest room...glass of water...little heater...bells...good. Will update on progress later.