Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Meditation for dummies!

Next to those who eat a bunch of leaves with an abundant topping of 8 nuts for a meal, I have a healthy respect for those that can meditate.  Meditation seems to be the new hot social topic these days.  Yoga, muscle-tearing exercises and zero-carb diets have stepped aside for this new champion.  When my friends were ready to swear on a stack of invisible Gitas to convince me of the power of meditation, I was convinced enough to give it a shot.

I confess that I was a bit smug going into this business.  After all, how hard could it be?  If dumping all thoughts from the mind and being in a zombie-like state is meditation, I felt pretty confident about it.   If you are acquainted with me, you would know that I walk around in exactly that state most days anyway.   So one day, I warned my family to not disturb me for a while, rolled my shoulders and closed my eyes.  Just so you know that I was not fooling around, I even switched off the TV.

Thus began my personal epic journey.  Well, more of a mini trip to the kitchen pantry, if you must know.  Who knew I had so many active gray cells in my brain?  My mind, apparently, was a giant monkey on steroids.  It jumped up and down, side to side, upside down and any other direction I have neglected to mention. 

Okay, so it was not going to be as easy as I thought which only meant that I had to try harder next time.

Posture could be the key to this, I figured, and tried to sit crisscross on the floor like I had seen sages do in the old movies.  Let’s just say that I had to ad lib the plan at the last minute and forego both the floor and the crisscross sitting.  One challenge at a time seemed wise.  Next, I dug into my treasure box, unearthed a couple of sandal incense sticks and lit them.  Ambience is half the battle, after all. There, I really felt ready this time.  Finally, sitting comfortably in my very red, very designer settee, I closed my eyes and tried again. 

I brought to my mind a white jasmine flower that I had seen in a pot in the back yard the previous day.  Did I tell you that I had decided to use a prop to focus my mind on?  A secret weapon to tame my monkey mind, so to speak.  I had a good feeling about this already.

I remembered the day a dear friend brought a cutting from her jasmine plant for me saying that it thrived in her garden and gave her many blooms.  I wanted it to live and thrive in my garden too so I gave it to my husband to plant and water.  If you would stop being judgmental for a second, I will tell you why.   He is the protector of plants in my house.  The one that who shields them from my very black thumb. 

When I peeked in yesterday, it had so many buds ready to bloom.  I wish I had learnt how to string a garland out of flowers.  It would be nice to wear a string on the hair one evening.  The last time I wore a string of jasmine on my hair was last year when I had gone to India.  Both my mother and mother-in-law would insist that I keep flowers in my hair whenever I visit home.  I am eternally grateful for having those two in my life.  They are such kind people.  I remember going to a wedding when I was there last year wearing more flowers than what my fragile head had called for.  It was funny how people kept asking if age had mellowed me into a shy person since I had my head down most of the time from the weight of the flowers.  Hah!  

Wow, wait a minute!  That’s not meditating!  I just took the fastest trip to India and back and still managed to make a few gigantic detours to LaLa land.  Okay, may be that prop was a bit too stimulating for the mind.  Time to zoom in on something dull that is bound to not kick start my mind into overdrive.  What could be duller than a bowl of oats, I thought and went in search of a new room, a new chair to begin my next mini epic journey.

If you are thinking that focusing on a bowl of bland oats would put any mind to sleep, you would be entirely wrong.  My monkey mind jumped up and down with excitement and decided to devise many recipes that would spice up the dull oats into a culinary pleasure.  Oats mixed in a coconut, vegetables and green chilies gravy; oats slow-cooked in almond milk and sweetened with a dollop of honey; oats mixed in a hot cup of pepper rasam and more.  I realize that I don’t have a full handle on meditation yet but I do know that one is not supposed to drool in the process. 

Do you possess the ability to rein in your mind so it is not bouncing all over the place, even if it is only for a few minutes a day?  If so, you are my new hero replacing an elderly uncle with no teeth that I once met who could still eat a plate of murukkus with gusto. 

I always whine to my husband (because he lets me) that I haven’t gotten ‘THE CALL’ yet.  May be, if I tame my mind enough to listen, I might hear Him call.

How do you  meditate?  


நாகு (Nagu) said...

Ha ha ha....
மனம் ஒரு குரங்கு in action and commentary...

Hilarious, Meena. Next time try a guided meditation - am sure you will find lots online. Just make sure there is no hidden scream half way thru. You know - there are all kinds of nuts out there...

Naaree said...

Some one told me to try meditating by reciting any short manthra (e.g gayathri or Triyambakam etc) N number of times. Your mileage may vary on N.

But here is the trick. You cannot verbalize or mouth it. It has to be purely mental. You have to think the lines.

So I decided to give it a shot about a year ago on Gayathri Japam day. You see I didnt want to do any extra work. Adhukku oru naal varum bodhu try panninen. What takes me about an hour and a half normally, took a solid 3 hours and I still had 200 more to go. I said the heck with this. And finished up the rest in 15 minutes, by verbalizing.

But if it works. Ore kallula rendu maanga.


Chitvish said...

Attempted quite a few times, Meena!
Sitting cross legged was acrobatic, so compromised by sitting on a sofa.First hitch.
After all comfort is the first criterion for concentration.
Just started when an urge to scratch my back just overpowered me 🤔😥 No way, I thought. But my "scratch sensation" overpowered my decision and I yielded, Choicelessly. Second hitch.
Third time, it was a bout of cough. Went on and on, stopped only when I decided, enough is enough for the attempt.
The magic happened, cough stopped.
Was it psychological? Yes, definitely!
So, meditation is not for mere mortals like me!
So be it 😂

Meenakshi Sankaran said...

@ Nagu - In my last trip to India, I met a cousin and her husband who both can go from laughing boisterously with the family one minute to finding a corner in a crowded room and go in to a deep meditative state the next. Somehow, they made it look so easy. I wonder how their monkeys doze off on command like that. Until I figure out the secret to that, I will be sure to try your suggestion of guided meditation. Thanks Nagu. :-)

Meenakshi Sankaran said...

@ Naaree - After reading your comment, I was intrigued by the idea of 'thinking' a sloka instead of vocalizing it. I wanted to try it too so tried to chant Sashtikavasam with my mind voice. By the time I finished, my mind voice was so unbelievably sore. And I can't even soothe it with a peppermint. This is a losing battle here Naaree.

"Adhukku oru naal varum bodhu try panninen"

I always knew you were wise. :-)

Meenakshi Sankaran said...

@ chitvish - Lol Chitra aunty! When higher powers out there are conspiring to outwit our efforts, what can we do, right? :-) As for your first hitch, I totally understand. I get sympathy pains in my quad muscles every time I see someone sit on the floor. As for the scratching urge, isn't it annoying how it rears its ugly head every time we are trying to do the impossible? One morning, I talked myself into going for a long walk which is no easy task for me, you know. 100 yards down the road, the itch in the back started. Let's just say that you can call what happened that morning a "walk" only in very loose terms. :-)

Sudha H said...

Meena, this topic is very close to my heart. There are numerous blogs, articles, methods to explore on this. What I've found is the mind is never going to stop chattering even when we're asleep, but my simple practice now is I let it do it's thing, I only pay attention if it's of any importance because for the most part it's always some form of unwanted worry or something I should have done or to do. Basically our mind is constantly living in the past or planning a future, both of which we've no control over, so to be in the present which is the hardest discipline, meditation is suggested. For me it means sitting with myself & having an inner chat with my higher self or divine or God, name doesn't matter, for most part my eyes are open. Taking a few minutes break without constantly doing anything is a form of meditation also to me as I can now center myself & regain clarity for the task in hand. So again my practice now has become to pause before I react which is an unlearning in itself as we've been well trained to do exactly just the opposite. Hope this helps. Namaste!

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Meenakshi Sankaran said...

Dear Sudha,

Please accept my apologies for the delay in acknowledging your feedback. Life got in the way as usual.

From the sound of it, you seem to have mastered the art of meditation without any of the superficial elements that I seem to need. Yes, it is essentially the art of centering ourselves and like you said, it takes some unlearning and relearning to achieve. Thanks for the helpful tips Sudha. :-)

Meenakshi Sankaran said...

Dear Cascia Talbert,

I am honored to be listed as among the top 100 humor blogs out there. Thank you very much. Glad you enjoyed it.