Do You Mind?

I’m on the mindfulness train. The Mindfulness Meditation Express. Got on last Monday. I’m not allowed to talk specifically about the class but I can talk around it. And I can talk about me.

The day didn’t start well. As I mentioned last week, my coccyx was aching. Most of my fellow passengers on this meditation journey are chronic pain sufferers. So it’s conceivable that I subconsciously conjured some of my own to justify my funded participation. Yet I now fear the little known, never studied bogeyman, coccyx cancer. Because that’s where I go.

Last Monday I was late. As I was about to head out on my bike, I discovered two flats. And I forgot my sunglasses on a day that was sunny and blue (usually a good thing). It all made me break into tears. A lovely guy at Bikes on Wheels in Kensington Market filled the tires while I stood sniffling. Likely I made him uncomfortable and he wanted me out. But he was kind.

I cried all the way to St Mike’s Hospital where the Mindfulness Meditation course is being offered and waited for the 1957-vintage elevator to creep down from the 17th floor. By the time it arrived, the assembled crowd pushed in and lit up every floor on the way to my destination- the penultimate 16th. I stood in the corner glaring at the offending buttons.

Perhaps my brain was soggy, but the rooms on the 16th seemed to be laid out in something other than numerical order. Twice I went back to reception to inquire.

What I finally found was a dim, stuffy, cramped, room. Zenless. I spent thousands of hours of my bureaucratic career in rooms like this.

Administrative and technical details dominated the first hour. A loud conversation between multiple sites linked by video conferencing went something like this:

"Hello Sudbury, can you hear us? Wave so we know you’re there. The middle panel of the screen is blue. Is it blue for you? Can you see us? Sudbury, are you there? Do you think you can unplug and replug…"

"Hello Markham, can you hear us? Wave so we know…"

The glitches were eventually unglitched, the blue squares replaced by people - eager, fidgety, unsure.

Skeptical as we may be, Mindfulness Meditation has a pile of evidence to support it. I’ve read none of it, but the Ontario Government is paying for this so that means a whole bunch of other people - maybe former colleagues from my past Ministry of Health life - did the research.

During the 5 minute in-class meditation I didn’t flinch or squirm or roll my lightly closed eyes. I let myself be in the proverbial moment. I stepped onto the pathway of enlightenment without looking both ways.

A friend trying to understand the meditative process asked: “So you meditate for 5 minutes and feel anxious for the remaining 23 hrs and 55?”

“Oh, no. I’ll work up to at least 20 minutes,” I answered.

We were asked to come up with a handle to describe ourselves. I picked Aviva – too much chocolate. (Pretty pathetic. I felt rushed.) One man followed his name with Last Resort. I felt instantly overwhelmed and grateful. People aren’t here on a lark. They are desperate, hurting, hopeful. 

Not everyone will make it through. But for the moment we are all on this Mindful Meditation train, rolling along, gripping faint hope, wondering where we will venture, where we will take ourselves.



Great description of the hope and anxiety of the start of this kind of program. And for the record, I think the rooms at St Mike's were laid out from some big catholic yahtzee game.


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