Karen as Aayla Secura

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.

4 thoughts on “What just happened when I tried to meditate sitting up and without guidance

  1. This. That picture made me gag and chortle at the same time, which means that I require some kind of meditation to take my mind off the twist in my throat.

    I’m of the opinion that all newborns are pretty monstrous. Apart from the soybean in uterine fluids look, they aren’t very glad to be out. But yay on finishing revision work!

    I know the crazies. I become convinced that a streak of successes is possible and I obsess over cleaning baseboards before I can sleep. It’s like a moral imperative to do everything I can whilst my mind feels like working.

    Thanks for the color-coding. Leave it to you to make meditation into a Faulknerian exercise.

    Unguided meditation sounds rad. I might just try that to see what an acid trip is like…I’ve been told that, sitting cross-legged and straight-backed on a flat surface, the body naturally rocks back and forth in time with the heartbeat. I’ve done that, but I was never sure if I was forcing the rocking or not. But that thought might lead me into color-coded meditative frenzies on the existence of free will, and I’d rather have the jedi experience.

  2. Four minutes of your day thinking about Darth Maul is definitely an altered state of consciousness, so congrats! All I get is a rehearsal of middle school slights. :) For online guided meditations/group support I really recommend wildmind.org. The materials are very well organized and the teacher has a lovely Scottish accent.

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