I tried to meditate today but got stuck on the part that instructed, “Try to remember a time when you were completely relaxed”. If that is the criterion for meditation, I might as well give up. Completely relaxed? When I’m sleeping, maybe. Even then, given the nature of my dreams, I don’t think my subconscious mind gets the memo. Lying down? Check! Body at rest? Check! Relaxed mind? Seriously???
I am comforted by the fact that youtube has so many meditation videos on anxiety. That means I am not alone. Would a reputable medical organization like youtube be addressing the issue of anxiety if it were not of epidemic proportions? Clearly not. Knowing that I have this important psychological tool at my fingertips and that just this one recording has been viewed by 678,594 people, makes me feel better. Until I realize the fact that it could have been viewed by one person 678, 593 times. And me.
This particular recording was from someone called, “The Anxiety Guy “. I hoped the adjective described his area of expertise and not his state of mind. Although, on second thought, someone who is anxious himself is in the best position to understand anxiety. Have you ever noticed that the best psychologists are completely screwed up? I think it is a prerequisite.
Ironically, it was a woman’s voice on this recording by “The Anxiety Guy”. The length of the recording was 33 minutes and 43 seconds. I’m skeptical about even pretending to be relaxed for that period of time. First, I need to make sure the cats are in the room with me, so that they don’t try to get in during the meditation. Next, I have to get comfortable, which is as challenging as the meditation. The door to the room must be closed so I don’t have the perception that someone might walk in on me. (’m alone in the house with the alarm on but you never know) Then I need to arrange pillows for lumbar support and put one under my right leg to relieve pressure on my knee that might distract me during this “relaxing time”. Pillow placement alone could take 33 minutes and 43 seconds. Once my body is in its delicate balance of comfort, I am ready to begin.
I am using headphones, so the woman sounds like she is in the room with me. I hope she doesn’t notice that I haven’t made the bed. She instructs me to focus on a spot on the wall in front of me. I am already distracted by the fact that there is a spot on the wall and I ruminate about the house not being clean. She tells me that my eyes are probably getting heavy and might want to close. She’s right; if I close my eyes, I don’t have to see my dirty wall and unmade bed. I close them and listen to her hypnotic suggestions. She tells me to breathe in for a count of three, hold for three and then exhale for three. I can do the inhaling and the holding, but as soon as I open my mouth to exhale, my concentration is broken and I remind myself of a goldfish. Then she tells me to visualize my anxieties being expelled with the exhale? What am I, on drugs? I can’t even visualize a time when I was completely relaxed, and now I have to visualize some intangible emotions being released from my mouth? My imagination is not that good.
I start to relax in spite of myself, or maybe I’m just tired. Meditation might just be a creative way of justifying an afternoon nap. I will select a longer recording next time. The woman continues in her soothing hypnotic voice. (Are there classes to cultivate this kind of voice? I’m guessing that chain smokers need not apply.) She gives me permission to breathe naturally, to no particular count. Thank goodness! That open-mouthed exhalation business was giving me additional anxiety. She wonders how far I will go into a state of hypnosis. Will it be a light state or a deep state? (That depends upon how long it is before my cats need to visit the litter box) She is trying to fill my head with constructive suggestions. She tells me I can let go of the negativity of my past. I am the master of my own fate. I am in control of my life. I will make good decisions as I get closer to my goals. I am a paragon of calmness and confidence. I am a wonderful person, I am beautiful, I am unique.
She’s expecting a lot of me. It’s going to take more than 33 minutes and 43 seconds to facilitate this degree of mindfulness and self love. I wonder if she’s doing anything tomorrow.