Recently, I’ve started meditating. Sometimes I get into the lotus position, sometimes I’m lying down, sometimes I’m just sitting up. My eyes are closed. Now what?
Exactly. Now what? This is the tricky part. Here’s what I’ve tried: looking at my nose and watching my breath; counting backwards from 99 and restarting if I have a thought; or just concentrating on a word (Om is traditional). And what I’ve discovered about all of these techniques, in my few short weeks of meditating, is that my brain just continues to jabber away and I just have to ignore it. Easier said than done, of course. I often feel like a cat in one of those YouTube videos, that suddenly transforms from sedate and dignified to out of control, spurred on by a fake mouse on a bouncy wire. And, like that cat, every part of me wants to run after those thoughts, even though I know that running after them will lead to insanity. But, even knowing that, those thoughts — that damn mouse — kickstart something inside of me, and I’m off, following them up and down, over and around, in and out. But, apparently, that means I am getting it right. When the period between having a thought and chasing after it, and deciding to ignore it, becomes longer and more controllable, when I can look at it, acknowledge it, examine it even, and, then, bat it away without following it, that is when I’ll know I’m on my way to enlightenment.
Maybe that’s why we’re all fascinated by those stupid cat videos. We recognize ourselves.
Image: Luke Lavin, from his Flickr, with a Creative Commons License, some rights reserved.