Om, No: Meditation Instructions For The Tightly Wound
The practice of meditation offers numerous benefits to the nervous system. But what about the VERY nervous system?
The practice of meditation offers numerous benefits to the nervous system. But what about the VERY nervous system? If sitting quietly with your gently swirling thoughts is less of a ‘relaxation technique’ and more of a ‘kaleidoscopic hell-prison of your own making’, you may be too tightly wound for the standard approach. Try out these instructions instead:
1. Ensure you are seated or lying comfortably. Note that this is different than lying UNcomfortably, which is what you did that night Marion excitedly asked if you liked her enormous, framed horse collage. Ugh, you were not convincing. Your voice was all croaky and weird. You avoided eye contact. She hates you now. You could have just said that orange gingham horses maybe aren’t your thing. Or anyone’s thing. She’s definitely lying in bed with Paul right this second while they trash your character and upbringing. Anyway, make sure you’re comfortable.
2. As you slowly inhale, count five people you’ve broken up with at some point in your life, and feel yourself grow increasingly convinced that each of those relationships was your only chance for genuine contentment. Try to go as far back into your past as possible. Middle school is ideal.
3. Hold your breath for as long as you possibly can, like you did this morning on the phone with Air Canada as you confirmed for the ninth time that they do offer vegan meals on the flight to Rome you’re taking three months from now.
4. As you exhale, count five times you breezily addressed various co-workers with an inexplicable nickname you concocted on the spot (like when you called the guy who hired you ‘Rickdiculous’), accompanied, obviously, by double-finger guns. Recall that those interactions were objectively horrifying for everyone involved. Feel the red-hot shame radiating throughout your body, leaving no cell untouched.
5. Focus on the sensation of your lungs filling up from deep within your chest. If visualization helps, picture the sloowww expansion of your inbox as it fills up with urgent, time-sensitive messages while you do nothing about it and everyone grows furious about your silence.
6. Once your breathing settles into a steady rhythm and then quickly returns to a jagged pattern of shallow gasps, you may find you want to close your eyes. You may find a lot of things, though! Like love, or professional fulfillment! But honestly, it’s highly unlikely. You missed your chance with Algebra Sean way back in class 8, but at least your super useful PhD in medieval literature landed you a permanent position within the hallowed halls of Koffee Hut.
7. During meditation, your mind may fill with thoughts about that health check-up you need to book (OH, GOD) and your 400 per cent certainty that the doctor will discover triple-Ebola in both of your shins. Simply take a moment to acknowledge each thought as it arrives, and then give in and let it consume you whole because, who are we kidding?
8. Gradually return your focus to your surroundings. More specifically, the stacks of random papers all over your apartment, representing a vague attempt at starting your taxes. It’s almost certain you’ll be audited. By the government. Not just this government, either. By all the governments. In the world. Probably tomorrow.
9. Over time, try to extend your meditation into a longer practice, for some reason.