My wife had a rough day and we battled it out the only way we knew how; eating a mountain of nachos and playing games at Dave & Buster’s. Battle weary from shooting Transformers, racing Pacman and going head to head with Space Invaders, we decided to call it a night and head home.
I’ve been on a kick recently to rekindle my relationship to Mindfulness Meditation, of whom I had been giving the silent treatment for a couple years. After the covfefe of bullshit since November, my blood pressure had skyrocketed in ways I’d never had an issue with before; watching in horror as our Emperor who wears no clothes tweets his way to the Earth’s demise. If I didn’t need the practice before, I sure as Hades in a handbasket need it now.
I have also realized that my dear sweet sailor could also benefit from Meditation, with the stress she shoulders daily, monthly, and yearly in her career. So as we turned down the sheets and she transferred the laundry to the dryer, I asked if she would listen to a guided meditation on “Restore for Resilience” that I was working through on my Happify track. She gave me a resigned look and I assured her that this was only 12 minutes long of breathing and I wouldn’t ask for anymore.
I carefully took my pillow and placed it against the headboard to get optimum back support while I sat upright. She took “corpse pose” with her head on the pillow, just in case the breathing exercises got too rigorous and she might pass out from existential joy.
“Welcome back to week two, where we are working with building resilience to anxiety and stress. Last week we worked with building a really strong but flexible base of support. Now we will build on that support to nurture resilience and restoring energy”
Sounds perfect. This is just what we need. She needs it. I need it. This is going to be great. Ok, breathe.
The dog jumps off the bed. I feel her shift uncomfortably beside me, getting into a better position, clothes tumbling in the distance.
“…..begin by noticing your breath moving in and out of your body. Notice it filling up your belly. Now, let it release all the ………..”
Is she going to say “out”? I didn’t hear her say “out”. Wait the recording stopped! Who moved and bumped the phone???
I peek open my meditative Buddha-like gaze to check the phone and the damn thing is buffering like an AOL connection from the 90’s. Great. There goes Nirvana tonight.
“…..out…… You may have thoughts come to you or distractions during the practice, which is fine. We aren’t trying to change anything. Just notice what is. Notice them and ju……….”
Ju…st? Is that what word you were reaching for? Damn, it’s buffering again. And what is going on with Shuffles McGee to the left of me? Can you not get comfortable? This is for your benefit! I know how stressed out you are. Relax already!
“…st let it all go. Pay attention to the rise and fall of your breath, like the rise and fall of a wave….”
Okay. I’m feeling it. The waves yes. I like that metaphor. That reminds me of being at the beach for the lantern festival…. Shit! I should be focusing on my breath! Where did I put it? Am I sitting on it? No. No. Okay, I’m back. Yes, the waves, going deeper into the silence….
The dog jumps back onto the bed, circling like an albatross for an incoming landing on our legs in three, two….
“Ouch! Move over Scout!” my wife grumbles, shuffling around again to find her comfort.
The laundry now sounds like we have thrown a bag full of quarters in it and they are engaged in an epic battle in the dryer with our socks and shirts.
” See if you can relax on every out breath. On your in breath, you feel renewed strength, and on your out breath……….”
I snap my eyes open to look at the phone, huffing and puffing like the little engine who can’t even.
What the living flim-flam!?!? Is it so hard to ask for a meditation to play all the way for my wife who really needs to de-stress? Look at her over there in her sleeping posture! She’s miserable! Barely hanging onto reality. All I want is for her to calm the fuck down and for the dog to chill and for the quarters in the dryer to.….
And it hit me. This is My practice; not to rescue, to make sure someone else was having fun, enjoying their experience, learning a valuable lesson, or even have the perfect alignment of planets all singing “This is the dawning of the Age of Aquarius”. My practice is to “Be Here Now”, with my lumpy pillow that is poking into my spine the wrong way, with the dog jumping on and off the bed, with the squirmy wife and the quarters tumbling in the dryer, and the meditation stopping and starting randomly.
It’s my job to stay present and resilient during the chaos of my own life, what shit show is going on in the White House, what world leaders do or don’t do. The only thing I can truly control is my response, and if I’m out of control, what chance do I have of responding in a calm or rational way that would be beneficial?
The meditation finally froze at 9 minutes and 12 seconds. I gave myself a couple more breaths for good measure. This was my practice and every breath is a new chance to begin again.
“Hey, the meditation froze. We can try again another time.” I told my wife.
“No problem love.” She says sleepily.
Poor sweet soul. She may never know the peace and tranquility I have learned in meditation.