October 20, 2016

what meditation looks like in the real world

Andy: Welcome to our newest Headspace pack: “Madhouse”.

Andy: Commend yourself for making the attempt to sit down for 20 minutes; the exact length of an episode of Shaun the Sheep. Try to find a quiet place where you can be alone, knowing that such a thing does not actually exist. Begin with the acceptance that there’s nothing you can do to prevent interruptions. Know that the instructions I’m giving you are adding an additional 2 minutes to this session. Know that AirPlay always stalls and will not auto-play the next episode of “baa” quickly enough for you to enjoy the final moment to free your mind. Note it, then let it go.

Andy: Begin in the usual way; breathing in through the nose, out through the mouth. Nice soft focus. Try to avoid looking directly at that mark on the wall that needs touched up. Stop thinking about how you should cover it with a painting because this room feels like it was staged by Martin Creed — note it — ahh, that’s thinking. Now let it go.

Andy: Listen for any sounds. Hear the birds chirping outside. Hear the dryer balls pulverizing the laundry. Hear the TV in the other room that’s now distracting you into imagining what Shaun and Bitzer are doing because it’s only the 57th time you’ve seen/heard this episode. Hear the sirens down the street.

*30 seconds pass*

Andy: Close your eyes with the next out-breath. Let your breathing return to its natural rhythm. Feel the weight of your body pressing down in this $25 Craigslist chair. Upholstery is not a topic in this pack… thinking… let it go.

Andy: Start at the top of your head and scan down, noting any sensations. Notice the tense neck and aching lower back due to poor laptop posture in the coffeeshop with the too-high bench seat. Feel the weight of your obese cat as he capitalizes on your moment of stillness. Try to ignore his claws digging into your lap. Note it, let it go.

*3 seconds pass*

Andy: Now that you’ve scanned down through the body, feel for any underlying emotion. Try to choose a word that’s not “overwhelmed” or “tired” — those have already been used 3 times this week.

Andy: Remember your motivation. Think about who you’re doing this for — how you’re staving off an angry outburst when your husband puts his clothes on the floor next to the hamper tonight. How you’re counting on your greater sense of mindfulness when the 2-year-old throws a tantrum for the third time you refuse to let him play with the table saw. No, you cannot pause to add contractor trash bags to the shopping list. Focus.

Andy: Bring your attention to the breath. Feel it in the body. Count 1 with the in-breath, 2 with the out-breath, just to the count of 10.

*2 minutes pass*

*rapidly approaching wailing*

Andy: Take a moment to go plug in the iPad with the dead battery, wait for it to restart, then re-stream “baa” back to the TV. Resist the urge to be distracted by the need to clean peanut butter off the couch. It can wait.

Andy: Good, you’re back. Now return to your breathing. Focus on where you feel the breath in the body.

*5 minutes pass*

*obese cat returns and re-positions itself*

*2 minutes pass*

*second cat strong-arms onto lap and begins growling at other cat*

Andy: Break it up, and let it go.

*2 minutes pass*

*footsteps approach*

*toddler begins driving matchbox cars on chair, legs, and around cats.*

Andy: Note it, and let it go.

*6 minutes pass*

*toddler gets bored and leaves room.*

Andy: Remember, if at any point you realize you’ve been distracted by the silence in the other room, simply note it “growing dread” and let it go.

*2 minutes pass*

Andy: Now let go of all focus on the breath. Let the mind be free of wondering if you left any kitchen knives on the counter.

*30 seconds pass*

Andy: Now bring your attention back to the body. Feel the deadness in your leg under the weight of the cat. Listen for a sign that the toddler has not managed to get into your studio and access acrylic paint or shut down the server.

Andy: When you’re ready, open your eyes. Take a moment to appreciate this feeling of calm for a split second before you rush off to assess the damage. Congratulate yourself on completing this “Madhouse” pack on Headspace. For your next pack I recommend taking a long vacation.

important note: i love Headspace:

This is nothing more than my sarcastic sense of humor imagining a meditation guided as it actually happens in my house. I love Andy Puddicombe and Headspace is one of the apps I can’t live without, so this is not meant to be critical in any way. If you’ve ever wanted to begin a consistent meditation practice I highly, highly recommend signing up for a trial to check it out. The paid subscription is absolutely worth it.

Yes, this post is based entirely on true events that have all happened at one time or another.

My mind must say “note it, let it go” a lot. There’s no way Andy says that as much as I’ve used it here, if at all.

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