I am a perpetual over-thinker, steadily adrift in thought, lost in the winding, undefined trails of my psyche. It was worse when I was younger. Forget about making me read a book as a kid. No sooner would my eyes scan a sentence than my cunning deviant mind would seduce my attention away from the page and into it’s entrapments. It’s a miracle I got such good grades in school. How clever I must have been.
I was interesting enough in a conversation but my listening skills were acutely deficient. I would nod my head accordingly at the person in front of me meanwhile waiting to interject, thinking about what I was going to say, eventually interrupting to tell my own story. I suppose there is some small redemption in my awareness to it. Nonetheless, it seemed the only way out of my overthinking mind was talking, and believe me, I did, and still do, a LOT of it.
I may have been entertaining, or even charming enough along the way to compensate for my deficiency. Even so, I didn’t give anyone much of a choice in the matter but to listen to me. I would engage with just about anyone who was willing or lacked the strength to turn away. The underpaid grocer, the rushed server, the poor sucker who got stuck next to me on the plane. This technique served me in some manor for many years. It allowed me to fearlessly go out in the world and connect with any miscellaneous human on just about every subject. I’m a social butterfly. An extrovert. I am the product of a lot of energy and a mind that will not stop talking at me.
For as long as I can remember, friends and fellow seekers have been suggesting meditation as a treatment for my condition. I uttered the same uninspiring response every time, “I can’t meditate. I’ve tried but I can’t stop thinking.” I truly believed that meditation did not and could not “work” for me. How could it? All it ever did was cause me to waste more time trapped in the corridors of thought. Time better spent out there in the world getting things done. Producing results. Working hard to make things happen. Or at my worst, occupying my time with mindless entertainment to silence the chatterbox in my head.
This year I was invited to my friend’s wedding in Mumbai, India. Simultaneously, but not consciously planned, I purchased an unlimited month of yoga and meditation classes at a studio near my home in Hollywood. I figured maybe in a class setting I would learn something about meditation that I just wasn’t getting. I mean, every spiritual teaching and philosophy I embrace encourages it, so I had to keep trying, right? Maybe I could get it right this time. I would finally get it right and take all of my enlightenment to India where it would lead me on a healing journey that would reveal itself simply and beautifully like a Rumi poem.
India unfolded more like a Hunter S. Thompson novel, magically abrasive, and more chaotic than soothing. More about India later…
So, I schlepped myself to meditation class, yoga mat in hand, hoping for the best, but not expecting any breakthroughs. I always say that you don’t get what you deserve; rather you get what you expect. I got just that. Not only did I not have any major breakthroughs, but I was so shifty during the class that the teacher called me out afterwards. He suggested I sit in a chair next time because my body seemed uncomfortable and he could sense my restlessness. Oops. Failed again at meditation.
A few days later I tried a different class where we sat on couches and a lovely young teacher soothed us with her feminine voice and eased us into our practice. I was a bit more comfortable, but not without distraction. There was a beautiful man in the class who sat next to me. His long curly black hair fell down upon his Disney hero jawline and when I closed my eyes his steady breath in and out stole my entire focus for twenty solid minutes. When they tell you to focus on the breath I’m pretty sure that’s not what they are talking about. Oops. Failed again.
There was something that I was just not getting. What was it? What was I doing wrong…
To be continued…