The Art of Not-So-Successful Meditation

My brain is almost NEVER still.

I can’t even drink with any significance; once the booze is in, my filters are thrown to the wind, and everyone within a fifty mile radius knows exactly how much my brain isn’t still.  Also, how strong my filters are when I’m not intoxicated. 

For the past several months, I have been trying to meditate, trying being the operative word. See above.

In the process of attempting to become more focused, I chose to attempt meditation. Many, many times. These days, it is often before the sun comes up. On this particular day, the rooster ‘cross the woods had yet to crow, and I was attempting to focus on my breath.

I swear, I think I stop breathing when I try to do this. Or I breathe too much, and between the “in” and the “out,” I find myself thinking about something that happened the day before, what I wanted for dinner, when I could rent Deadpool 2  from Redbox, if my diva dog had stolen another shoe, how my parents were, thoughts of a friend I hadn’t seen in far too long, how I could use a piece of chocolate right now

Anything but the breath.   

Remember this scene from Eat, Pray, Love

 

That is so me. Nearly five months later, and that’s still SO me. 

 I had read in the Tibetan Book of Living and Dying that one should keep her eyes open during meditation: eyes pointed up if she needed to avoid falling asleep, eyes pointed downward if she needed less stimulation.

 My mind, as per its usual Talledega, raced, turning on two wheels as it made the corner.  I chose down…

…only to see a single winged ant, one of the myriad of bugs that are drawn to the porch light in the darkness. A three ringed binder, full of scribbles, doodles, and whatchamacallits lay open, awaiting my next burst of weird thoughts. I watched as the ant landed and began traveling the paper as if it were a prairie. Leisurely in its exploration, it strolled along, pausing, its bent antennae twitching. Apparently, it was weighing its options.

 Dare it go toward the blue and red flower doodles, or would this courageous adventurer keep to the notebook lines?

It chose neither, as it turned out. 

It walked along, its legs giving a jaunty jerk (think Jiminy Cricket), reaching the edge of the notebook paper. It stopped. And waited. And waited some more. After what seemed to be ten minutes (more likely to be 10 seconds) it took a u-turn and headed in the direction from which it had just come. So much for meditation. The insect kept going until it hit an invisible wall at the edge of the paper once again. As I hummed Foreigner’s “Feels Like the First Time,” (REALLY. So much for meditation) I watched as it turned, barely pausing at all, and began retracing its steps. Again and again it strolled along the edge of the notebook paper, stopping only to turn around and continue walking to the other edge.  

I felt like I was witnessing something private, something that made me some sort of Peeping Tom, but I couldn’t stop watching this one-ant parade. I couldn’t end my fascination with its repetition of patterns, again and again. It continued this route until it chose differently, veering from its established routine and climbing aboard the center metal ring.

What I know about ants I could probably fit in a teaspoon with room to spare, but I did know that this little thing had wings. Why didn’t it just fly away? It clearly wanted to leave the paper, but it wouldn’t go over the edge. Was it scared? Did its eyes see a vast cliff that was in reality only two or three times its length?

Why didn’t it just use its damn wings and fly to where it wanted to go?

It was so easy for me, with distance and vision that saw the “big picture” (or at least the whole notebook), to find a solution to its problem. 

I found myself pondering how many times had I come up against something that seemed so impossible and I just wouldn’t step over the edge into a waiting  world of possibility. I wondered if there were a big cosmic “Me” watching, also puzzled, thinking that the little “me”  had the solution but I just refused to use it. That from “Me’s” perspective, the fall wasn’t nearly as dangerous as it appeared to be to “me.”

The whole scene reminded me of a quote by Rumi: 

I set the alarm, and tried again. This time, I kept my eyes closed. 

The ant was gone when I opened them.