Before I Divorce My Brain

I have decided to try meditating. Some might say that I am an expert navel contemplator and wonder what more I can learn from that lint filled crevice, and to them I say, Ah, maybe I can finally discover why the lint is always blue, surely research worthy of a Nobel.

Many people have suggested meditation to me before, from the evangelistic (happy one-hand clappy?), to the supportive sibling (“He ain’t heavy, he’s my…”), to even a recent article in the New Scientist about the benefits of increasing one’s vagal tone (muscle tone to mental tone, if you don’t stay fit, you’ll get Alzheimer’s).

Maybe it’s a thing right now, or maybe I’m just noticing it; I sometimes don’t notice much, so it could well have been a thing for quite a while to be honest. For instance, I wouldn’t know what colour my boxer shorts are without looking. Not that I’ve been wearing them for quite a while. About 12 hours.

I’ve generally resisted meditation. I mean, where would I find the time?! 10 minutes a day? Am I really worth it? The dog is worth it, a nice long walk in the park where she can chase squirrels keeps both her and the squirrels healthy. Until she catches one, then the squirrel will be less healthy…

But time spent doing nothing is anathema to me. Along with my many comfortable ways of doing things, or “OCD” as the doctors call it, I cannot leave the house without something to read. Well obviously! What if I need to go to the loo? That’s downtime, time I could usefully spend catching up on the New Scientist and discovering why reading on the throne prolongs the lives of the greater spotted physicist.

I have a friend who goes on silent retreats, 10 days where she doesn’t speak. That, to me, sounds like hell. Or a particularly troubled marriage, which may be the same thing. But while I spend much of the day not speaking, the idea of shutting down my internal monologue terrifies me. I may not be married, but my brain speaks to me. Disappointingly, I nag myself, so if my brain were a woman I’d probably not marry it.

On the other hand, maybe there I have my answer. Rather than divorce my own brain, meditation can be my internal equivalent of marriage counselling. I’ll complain of irreconcilable differences between my brain’s desires and my body’s actions, my brain will point out that I never listen to it, and the councillor will ask me about my Mother. Well, don’t even go there!

As such, brain and body counselling it is. Apparently all I have to do is make sure they both turn up at the same time. I thought I might start with concentration meditation, where I have to not let my mind wander. Sort of tether it to a thing. Like a hooked fish. Well, let’s see if I can land it. I’ll use a hair net.

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