#22: My Quest for Composure

Experimenting with meditation

I knew this wouldn’t be easy, but my G-D is it hard to sit and calm my breathing and try not to think of all the things I could be doing if I were not trying to meditate. Clearly I need to be doing this.

My first try went like this: I thought about how in the world I would sit still for 5 minutes, I recited a list of positive mantra-type thoughts (I am happy, I am healthy, I love my husband, my kids are thriving, etcetera), I thought (accidentally) about lunch, I thought about calming my heart rate, which was racing, probably with nervousness about “wasting” precious baby-nap-time, and then I sneaked a peek at the clock. It had been 3 minutes. I decided that was enough for a first go.

I look forward to one day being able to look back at this pathetic first experience and laugh.

Second try: I got 3 minutes in before Davin crawled in the room, with babysitter following. Had to act like I was sitting here doing something, not just sitting still with my eyes closed.

Third try: All I could think about was what I should really be doing with these 5 minutes. Decided mid-day meditation will never work.

Fourth try: Mike and I sat together just before bed and closed our eyes. Now we’re talking. Or rather, not talking! Without a list going in my mind, without the fear of impending interruption, I was able to sort of open my mind to sitting quietly without thinking. When a thought intruded, I pushed it aside, as my more-schooled-in-meditating friend advised. I will try it again tonight.

(That didn’t happen.)

Fifth try: I do not feel good about how many days have passed since my last attempt to sit quietly. I mean, come on, all I’m after is 5 minutes. Though I’ve thought about doing it many times—it was not forgotten about—it’s literally been a week or more since I last wrote.

I do feel good about identifying a spot in my house I can call a “meditation room.” Out of necessity, I retreated just a while ago to my closet, since my kids are home with the sitter and I wanted to have my five minutes in quiet. I liked it in there. Behind my closed eyelids I noticed the darkening of the light and then the thunder started, and I was breathing and listening to my breath… before I knew it, it had been five minutes. Exactly five, but five.

It wasn’t perfect that I was thinking, “I could write about this!” as I was sitting there. Alas, I am new to this, so I forgive myself. It is so hard to banish thoughts from coming in.

My latest Emory alumni magazine had a short article about how meditation is being incorporated into a class at a private elementary school here in Atlanta, and the results are amazing: “deeper and richer conversations,” and better displays of empathy and compassion. Also helping to convince me that I need this in my life: “Data show that people who practice meditation may reduce their inflammatory and behavioral responses to stress, which are linked to serious illnesses including cancer, depression, and heart disease.”

Since I’m a big believer in things happening for a reason, I don’t think it’s accidental that I picked up this magazine to read today after letting it decorate my kitchen counter for weeks. My quest for composure continues.