Be Here Now: if you can
Updated: Jan 16
Meditation is for hippie weirdos with nothing better to do than sit around cross legged on a cushion for hours. It sure as hell has nothing to offer me. I've got more important stuff to do. Like sleep. Or eat. Or watch Red Dwarf on Youtube. Or anything.
That’s what I thought until last year. Then I noticed something interesting: that the people who seem most relaxed and appear to have their shit together, also meditate. Coincidence? Maybe. Then my dad started meditating. Holy crap. My dad! And his shit does seem decidedly more together these days.
So, I gave it a go. And failed. And gave it another go. And failed again. One more go. Yup, failed again. I figured I wasn’t cut out for this. I’ve got the wrong kind of mind: I’m too distracted.
I’d try to focus on the breath (that’s all you do) but two seconds later I’m off on trains of thought about all kinds of random stuff: the sash windows need painting, we need to buy poop bags, is Nottingham really south of Norwich, is space infinite, how did Jimmy White lose to John Parrott, what’s for lunch.
I figured the good meditators must be lucky; they were born that way. Jammy buggers.
But talent has been debunked. Mozart had done 3,500 hours practice (with a skilled teacher, his dad) by the time he was six. Ronnie O’Sullivan practiced like a fiend as a kid and then his dad had an extension built for a full-sized table. You can put any other “talented” person in there too. It’s comforting to think these people can “just do it naturally” but it’s a myth. It's a cop out for the rest of us.
Why would meditation be any different to other learnt behaviours? That wouldn’t make any sense.
Now I’m having another go at it. A proper go. It feels important. Today, while walking on the sea front I had a minor moment of enlightenment. I don’t get many so it felt significant. Meditation is practice for doing one thing at a time.
When you walk on the sea front, walk on the sea front. When you drink coffee, drink coffee. When you write a blog, write a blog. When you work for your simulator check, work for your simulator check. When you watch Red Dwarf, watch Red Dwarf. Then stop. And do the next thing. And only that next thing, whatever it is. And repeat. Simple. Although, not so simple. Anyone who’s tried it knows it’s bloody difficult.
How do we get better at it?
Enter meditation. Practice at doing one thing at a time and focusing on it. The thing being breathing. Bicep curls for the brain if you like.
I’m on day eight of my new habit. I’ll do at least one minute of meditation every day. No excuses. I'll grow it from there. And I won’t stress if I disappear off to consider whether Gazza would make an all-time best five-a-side team. Notice I've wandered, and firmly bring that pesky old mind back to the breath. And repeat. And repeat. And repeat.
Strangely, I do feel a tiny bit calmer. And only a bit like a hippie weirdo.