I keep taking Jon Kabat Zinn’s Full Catastrophe Living to the bathroom with me. I know it deserves better.
I'll spare you the details about my toilet regimen. I’ll just say I’m not getting very far. The book is 603 pages long. Carrying it back and forth is itself a work out, which is good. But I’m still on the introduction. In fact, the new introduction to the old introduction. Nearly nowhere. Perhaps it’s not the best path to meditation.
It might not surprise you that people have been suggesting Yoga and meditation to me for my entire adult life. That’s standard code for you need to calm down. I like running around, and looking around, and thinking about other things. But right now I can’t run, so it seems a perfect time to read 603 pages on the benefits of mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR).
I love mindfulness, particularly the theory of mindfulness. On a scale of 1 -10, I consider myself well over a 5. Cancer has been helpful, forcing me into a self-awareness I didn’t realize I wasn’t aware of.
I keep asking about meditation for beginners - unenthusiastic, resistant beginners - but have yet to receive the quickie I’m looking for. I need a Change Your Life in 3 Deep Breaths pamphlet. I’m willing to take three deep breaths three times a day, if it will do the trick.
Here’s the problem. You can’t be forced into meditation, or into a meditative state. You have to desire it. I don’t. Well maybe I have a vague theoretical interest in being the kind of person who would choose meditation over, say, coffee or an episode of Call the Midwife (my latest.) I know it’s not an either or choice, but it kind of is. I’m told meditation can be an acquired taste. I’m not convinced.
Meditation seems to me like a waste of time (unlike Netflix) - my time, not yours or anyone else’s. I’m not judgy about it. I envy the ability to turn inward and slow down. Still you must have seen some of those people who claim to embrace a deep meditative practice? Namaste, and you’re in my fucking way you asshole. I don’t care if you’re dropping your old mom at the senior’s centre. Seriously, this activity is not for everyone.
For me, learning meditation seems as pleasurable as reading user manuals. I don’t want to get there, I just want to be there, with the bbq or the TV or the lamp, or the mantra already set up. I operate on a need-to-know rather than a get-to-know, basis. Maybe I should take the cue from all those folks who keep suggesting meditation, and decide that I may actually need-to-know.
A friend recently sent me two links - one to a study about the medical healing powers of meditation, and the second, an MBSR course. I assumed the former to be true (although they were talking about psoriasis and I have cancer), and I clicked on the latter. As soon as I read: Nine 3 hour weekly evening sessions, and a 7 hour weekend day group. One hour every day, six days a week for practice of mindfulness techniques... I panicked.
I’d like to start with someone like Morgan Freeman guiding me through 2 to 3 minute meditations. Then he can make me some 10 minute tapes, then 20. Any suggestions for other first steps are welcome.
It’s hard that so much is hard. It would be great to have some place calm, restorative, and perhaps even curative to go and recharge. But the catch is that meditation requires patience. Cancer has offered a fair amount in the way of personal growth but patience – not on the list.