Column: Meditate on This

When the third person recommended I take up meditation, I started to get worried. Was I so obviously manifesting a strung-out vibe? I know meditation is trending in tech circles, but I was getting the nudge from grounded health practitioners and wellness advisors who threw it out at the end of a visit about something else entirely. As in: Oh and by the way, you might seriously consider taking up meditation.

It occurs to me that perhaps I should give this some consideration, despite past failures at achieving zen-mindspace. (I once cut a weekend-long meditation workshop a day-and-a-half short, after falling asleep in one of the first exercises, and would have ditched out of a Wanderlust meditation session as soon as the facilitator asked us, in irritatingly breathy tones, to find someone we’d never met and stare lovingly into their eyes for 10 excruciating minutes, if I could have done it without making my stranger-partner, who already seemed on the brink of a breakdown, feel utterly rejected.)

But three times? These RMTs and physiotherapists and dental hygienists are not treating my headspace. My mental health is not their jurisdiction. But a bodyworker friend told me recently that she sees the life experiences that are stored in our bodies when the mask and armour is removed. Ater an hour, watching same client reapply mask and armor and head back out into the world, I’m sure quite a few healing-types wish they could say, “yo, a little bit of meditation between now and our next appointment, sweet-pea? As well as the flossing?”

Mental Health Awareness Week is coming up. May 4-10. I’ve never really paid it any attention. I don’t have a chemical imbalance. No one I live with does. So I never figured Mental Health Awareness to be particularly relevant to me.

I do, however, have a mind. And a mental state. And enough apparent twitches to indicate a need for meditation to anyone with half-a-brain. Also, the occasional pseudo-meltdown that typically manifests as a baking session at an inappropriate hour and prompts life-partner to ask, “Given that I am bathing the baby and putting him to bed so you can have some quiet time, why aren’t you working on that article that has been stressing you out so much?” by using the following phrase delivered with equal parts bewilderment, frustration and tentativeness: “What are you doing?”

“Making chocolate brownies.”

“It’s 9pm.”

“They’ll be ready in about 4 minutes.”

“Didn’t you have work to do? Do you bake when you’re stressed or something?”

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Long silence, as I contemplate the most appropriate response of:

  1. I guess you don’t want to eat any of them.
  2. Do you want a punch in the throat?
  3. Me? Stressed? What freaking-well makes you think I’m stressed?
  4. Interesting observation, dear life-partner. If I explore that observation, it seems that I bake when I need some TLC. I think it is a self-soothing strategy. Perhaps, not the wisest. But on the spectrum currently available to me, I’m going to give myself a pat on the back, eat a brownie and head upstairs to work on this story. Thank you for bringing my awareness to this pattern. Perhaps, once this deadline is passed, I can give it some attention.

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Brownie consumed, I’m now focused on my next mission: The David Suzuki Foundation’s 30 x 30 Challenge this May. Thirty days during which I take 30 minutes outside, in Nature. Being still. Because this is what I learn from nature, from sitting down by the river or at the base of a crag or at the top of a bike climb: That everything changing is just the way of all things. That it’s okay to sit with silence, you don’t always need to fill the spaces. If you stop for long enough to switch the signaler to receive, insights arrive. And a little bit of meditation every day can go a long way.

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