What just happened when I tried to meditate sitting up and without guidance

So, a couple weeks ago, I blogged about listening to guided meditation at night as a means to beat insomnia. I’m happy to announce that it has worked awesomely. Unfortunately, however, only one person’s voice works: I don’t know what her real name is but on YouTube she goes by Prima Facie, and I wish I could buy her a martini. She’s only got three guided meditation videos posted, but it doesn’t really matter because I swear she says five words, and I’m out. But, if you’re listening, lovely Prima, I’d dig a few more samples just for variety’s sake.

Today I needed a dose of meditation long before bedtime. I’d spent around seven hours revising an article on monstrous newborn narratives (yes, that’s right, monstrous newborn narratives). I’ve already revised this article several times before, and it’s gotten to the point that I can no longer tell if I’m actually improving it or simply beating it into unrecognizable word pulp.

The process left me in a state of, oh, let’s call it the crazies. It’s a state I often encounter after hours of mental work. My brain doesn’t want to stop. What else can we work on? it whispers. Surely there’s another book that needs interpreting, another film begging for analysis. Yet at the same time, I knew the brain was tired, delirious even, certainly incapable of making any sense at this point. I tried to distract it with manual work: I did dishes, I made dinner, I folded clothes. But it wouldn’t shut up.

So, for the first time ever, I tried seated meditation and without any guidance at all. Just five minutes of silence in which my main focus was to be my breath. I know that sounds like no time at all, but try it: if you’re manic like me, it’s forever.

Bob warned me that my head would quickly fill with random thoughts and that I should simply observe them without judgement, let them pass, and return to thinking about my breath. I’m not sure what thoughts enter other people’s minds during meditation, but mine were pretty chaotic, and I’m pretty sure there were at least three people talking. The conversation went something like this (I’ll color-code the voices to make it easier to follow):

I hope I get really good at this.


What would that even mean, to be really good at this?

You know, like my brain would just empty out and I’d be in touch with the ether or something.

Quiet over there.

Like I’d get so good at it that I’d start levitating, and Bob would be like, “Holy crap! You’re a jedi!”

Maroon considered the possibility of this briefly and with admiration. It would be cooler if you levitated Bob.

Shit, you’re right.

At which point blue gave up and left the building, and the remaining four minutes and fourteen seconds were spent in an imagined duel with Darth Maul that would eventually end in a draw and a passionate kiss. (Even with those crazy horns and face stripes, the dude’s hot.)

And so that’s what happened when I tried to meditate sitting up and without guidance.