I think therefore I am.
But does that mean WHAT I think is WHO I am? Surely it;s not as cut and dried as that?
I’ve recently started Transcendental Meditation after reading one of my heroes, David Lynch’s endorsement of it as a creative tool in Catching the Big Fish: Meditation, Consciousness and Creativity. I’d also noticed how I was letting work stress seep in everywhere else, manifesting its presence in the 3.30 am wake up. Admittedly, my workplace is a Total Wipeout obstacle course of pressure borne from incompetence, but I guess everyone feels like that, anyway.Still, I needed to do something about it.
I have tried meditation before; I spent most of my early twenties staring earnestly at a candle in 5 minute increments to no avail. Because I’m a stubborn mule, means of de-stressing do not come easy to me. If a room, person or technique is inviting me to relax through their decor, manner or method, my inner voice, the dickhead, will scream back NEVER! And resist, filling my mind with snatches of irritating songs or dramatisations of work related anecdotes.
I don;t know why it won’t let me relax. My inner voice is a dickhead, after all.
So I’ve been meditating for over a month now and I like it. It’s no pressure. Ifv your inner voice decides to list all the times you have been snubbed by a shop assistant, you just let it. Its this aspect of no resistance that I found most appealing – mind control is impossible, we are going to have thoughts, so just bloody have them instead of engaging with them and trying to wrestle them to the metaphorical ground. And what happens next is great: once I let them run off, I gradually stop listening.
I will make a terrible parent.
This is when I’m happiest with how my sessions go – when I genuinely lift away from my thoughts and achieve a bit of bliss. These sessions generally pass very quickly and I can’t remember what I’ve been thinking about that whole time. That’s the gold standard, right there.
Most of my sessions are still a bit of a battleground, involving me unwittingly chasing dickhead’s thoughts around and then feeling guilty about doing so. I often feel like this is my failure to bear, but TM does not differentiate between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ meditation. Nascent meditators may have grand notions about reaching some subconscious nirvana on their first attempt, but that speaks of our socially conditioned desire to succeed, to be the best, the first, the most. I don’t think that TM urges you to strive for this. By striving for it, you’re bound to fail. Such a joyful ethic!
In stead, the TM approach is this:
Did you close your eyes?
Did you keep your mantra in mind and if you forgot it, did you come back to it?
Did you stretch and come round slowly afterwards?
If yes to these, then you meditated my friend. The quality of the meditation, how surface you stay or deep you go is secondary. In that 20 minutes, you did whatever your brain needed to do: if it was shallow processing, so be it. The trick is not to worry too much about it.
And here I am, sounding like Maharishi when I spend most of my sessions arguing with my own head. I know the menu – I just need to swallow a bit more random thought soup first.