DAY 3 September 3, 2017
Dear Em…on the third day of Christmas….okay…okay…waaaaaay tooooooo early for holiday music…one of my car pandora stations thought holiday music by some pop group fit the category of Pat Metheny radio….. needless to say I am not ready for holiday music…although you liked it…..so third day of my birthday month…
The story of the day….Neal goes to meditation group…. now…this was a struggle on several fronts
This meditation is done with your eyes open…. that was going was going to be a problem right from the start…..now, while it is known that i have been found sleeping with my eyes somewhat open, that is in a supine position (on my back)…. I was not sure how this was going to pan out
Second….the sitting on the cushion was not bad initially, however…after 20 minutes, my left leg was no longer meditating with me but had gone totally asleep…now I am not talking a light doze, I am talking, level 4 deep sleep, gone to la la land and very difficult to wake up….. numb, so numb that it is difficult to stand on it because my balance was so thrown off… numb, like you sat on the toilet waaaaaaaay too long numb
Olay….also….okay….now a little background to this meditation…. which I happen to really like the way it was explained and although they place no goals or objective as you are meditating, obviously the benefits of meditation in general are what is hoped for….clarity, clearer thinking, more compassion within yourself and towards the world, your circle of human contacts, and in a larger sense society and the world…..all very positive premises…not promises….. although so many studies have shown the benefits of meditating……….
So in one sense you are turning off a part of your brain the part that looks at all the thoughts and analyzes and reacts to and feels emotion from etc………keep returning to your breath….have a thought as soon as you realize you are caught up in it, go back to focusing on your breathing and let the thought go, just leave it…don’t worry…another will take its place…
It is almost impossible to just focus on my breathing…all sorts of thoughts from mundane to inane to bizarre and somewhat insane came coursing through….
And I mentioned your eyes are open, gaze is soft focus about six to 9 feet in front of you….upright back posture, head is very slightly tilted down…. ok..and the set up is this….they did a ten minute test run meditation, to see if you had any questions…..then we did some simple chants and prayers……
Then twenty minutes meditation followed by ten minutes of walking meditation…which is just paying attention to your posture, your breathing, your feet the way they contact the ground, your balance, whatever you want to focus on
So here is just a little sampling of my inner dialogue….start with the meditation…..the first meditation the ten minute sampler was a little rough because the instructor sat almost directly in from of me and six to nine feet in front of me was his lap….good thing I was supposed to do soft focus…..
It was like…now what do I do….where the hell am I supposed to looooook……thankfully on the longer stretches the instructor (a different one) was in a different spot in the room
Now….here we go, the twenty minute stretch…..might I start with saying that about twelve or so minutes into the stretch part of my brain voice was saying when is that ……so and so time keeper going to hit the goddamn chime to signal the end…..because I was having difficulty just sitting there….
plus my left leg was soooooo done I could not feel it from foot all the way up my thigh
So let us talk about the open eyes…..are you kidding me? After the first sixty seconds all my eyes wanted to do was close…..one voice is saying keep them open and the eyes are totally ignoring all commands to stay open….
So, I am fighting to keep them open, they close, a voice says open them, in the meantime I am in this quasi dream state just starting to drift into twilight and all sorts of thoughts are coming in fast and furious…
Like Grand Central Station, some are just loony tune nonsense, and some are memories and some are current things mixed in with nonsense and more than once I almost burst out laughing but figured I would have been quietly ushered out of there on my first visit
So I am trying to get back to my goddamn breathing, but I keep getting interrupted by thoughts, and eyes that are sooooo heavy they have lead weights on them, and I keep saying to myself, come on Neal, eyes open or you will fall forward onto your face as you do an ungraceful plop and pitch off your cushion probably hitting someone else in the process…..
So damn it NEal….NEAl…..NEAL…get your f’g eyes open…. and stop nodding off….. geeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeez….. eyes open, breathing, focus….breathing…… holy s**t what was that thought…. damn what is going on here…. NEAL? breathing….focus breathing….keep coming back to your breath….okay…whew… breathe…. listen to your breath……
And it went on and on and on…. eyes closing, half nodding, thoughts flying, struggling to reopen my eyes, breathing, focus, thoughts and thoughts and thoughts and …..oh my god…this is exhausting…..lol…. I just want to sleep…. NO….NO….NO… when is that B***H going to ring that gong….oh my leg is dead…. I can’t sit here much longer… switch the way my legs are crossed…. oh my god…
I am sooooo looking forward to walking…if I can ever walk again… focus on your breath NEAL…..NEAL….NEAL…eyes open….come on…..and then finally……….G O N G …..
It took me three of the ten minutes for walking meditation, to be able to stand up and try to put weight on my left leg… I WAS grateful that it was ONLY my left leg
Now…ten minutes of walking…..oh…. another three for walking to the bathroom…. that’s walking right??? And, then we do another twenty minutes…. we do??? Is this anything like waterboard torture?
Okay, I put a couple of extra cushions under my butt this time to raise me up a little more and take some pressure off my legs. This time one or two other people had joined us. One a man, approximately my age. Well, he seemed to have the nodding off problem more so than I.
He was seated in the row in front of me and just slightly to my right. So I would repeated see his body jerk forward and then return to upright, many times. Guess I am not the only one. Wonder if anyone ever falls forward and plants a face onto the floor or cushion or person in front of them…lol.
After the second round of three, I had reached my capacity for fighting the heavy eyes, and quietly took my leave. You are permitted to leave as you need to, and if you have to use the bathroom you do so, they don’t want you to be unnecessarily uncomfortable. Discomfort is not the point, the point is to take away outside distractions and allow your brain a rest from executive cognitive scrutiny.
I have to say, I really did not mind the meditation. I have done meditation in the past, and was doing some shortly after Emilee died. Doing “nothing” (which is not really “nothing”) takes practice, just like most other things. Especially if you want to get the most out of it. It was a lot for the first time. But, I actually feel a little more centered after this morning. I think a shorter session next time.
Life After Emilee, on the loss of my wife to pancreatic cancer. I’m not accepting comments right now but please feel free to get in touch via my Contact page.