Ohm, Have You Seen My Chakra?

Have you ever read the Ramona series by Beverly Cleary? I read it somewhere around the age of seven or eight and to this day, I remember portions of it vividly. I also recall laughing so hard during quiet reading time that my teacher threatened to send me out of the room. There is nothing like being told to stop laughing that makes it even more difficult to stop laughing. In one of the books Ramona, at the time a spirited kindergartner, is told by her teacher to "sit here for the present." Of course the teacher means only that she take a seat temporarily. For Ramona, excitement ensues when she contemplates this unknown present she will be receiving, then of course, confusion when the day ends without her getting the promised gift.

I had much the same feeling yesterday when I sat in my first Zen Buddhist meditation orientation. The Zen master said "be present in each moment" and I imagine myself, nestled in a box, limbs folded on themselves, wrapped in brightly colored paper with an iridescent cellophane bow festooning my head. Biting the side of my cheek, I realized I am probably as immature and easily humored now as I was at eight. "Be present in each moment," the Master urged us. The promise being that if I sit here with my legs folded, being still(adult Buddhisty word for quiet and not at all fidgety)I will get rewarded with the thirty-something mom version of Disneyland: calmness, acceptance, enlightenment, a clean refrigerator and organized mind.

Some meditations ask that you clear your mind of thought. The goal of this particular meditation was to focus on your breath allowing the thoughts to come as they will, acknowledge them, and then return to the breath. The problem with doing this, this being conscious of your internal voice is that you notice what a neurotic little chatter bug you are.

Ok, close your eyes. Keep them closed, don't get distracted. Hmm, I smell perfume. Is that Aqua Di Gio? Oh, I don't like that smell, definitely hate it. Still, it is better than Patchouli and armpit which is what I expected half these hippy types to smell like. Hippy types? What am I, my eighty year old Grandpa? I do like sandalwood though, used sparingly. You know what I should do when I get home is make more of those homemade essential oil laundry sheets. Maybe I should give those to people for Christmas, wait that's right Gene and I decided no more consumer Christmas, icknay of the gift-ay, but does a homemade gift really promote consumerism? Probably because someone might feel they needed to get you something in return. Wait I'm supposed to be focusing or not focusing or focusing on breathing, wait how did I get to dryer sheets? What is wrong with me? You know I should really give my internal voice an Australian accent or something just to spice things up a bit.

This is just a small snippet of my stream of consciousness, I could write another fifteen paragraphs but believe me, it doesn't get any more interesting than that. I'm told it gets easier to shut off this dialogue, the internal equivalent of what crazy people say out loud. It would be helpful to eliminate the negative chatter of you shoulds, you shouldn'ts or any of the other tracks that keep me from being the me that is free of all that. Still, I would miss the neurotic girl who's head is full of stories, impressions--she has a good vocabulary, makes me laugh, keeps me company and tells me it's ok to buy more shoes so she can't be all bad.

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Chamuca said... March 9, 2010 at 10:01 AM  

Haha, I LOVED the Ramona books. You remember when she and her dad went and stood in the middle of the bridge, so they'd have one foot in Oregon and one foot in Washington? I always wanted to do that, but that bridge is super scary.

Gwen said... March 9, 2010 at 2:13 PM  

I really relate to this post. First of all I loved the Ramona Quimby books. I actually still have a book report that I wrote in elementary school on Ramona Quimby, Age 8. The cover picture is hideous. Anyhow, I too have a difficult time being "still", meditating and clearing my mind of thought. A yoga instructor once told me that it isn't the physical aspects of yoga that are the most difficult, but the mental. And that makes sense to me. I read a book once called "The Power of Now" and the author talks about how we tend to believe we always need to be thinking but that isn't true. He said we can become victims of our thoughts. That "thought" is merely a tool and we can abuse it. I definitely do!

Ginny said... March 9, 2010 at 3:58 PM  

I got into meditating for a bit, about 15 years ago. With a guy who used to be a Catholic priest, oddly enough. I found that every time I was on the cusp of letting go, turning off the thoughts, I'd kind of start, the way you do when you catch yourself falling asleep. So I'd get this little glimpse of what it could be, then jerk back to reality. Frustrating as hell.

Maybe I'll try again, if all the cool kids (i.e. you) are doing it.

SSG said... March 10, 2010 at 3:03 AM  

i went to my second yoga/pilates/taichi mix class last night- bod balance- and at the end we have to lie down, focus on our breathing, imagine a blue sky, and our thoughts are just clouds that float by. I thought I was the only one to not be able to "clear my mind". I have an internal dialogue about having an internal dialogue. I find it hard keeping my eyes shut. I get frustrated that I can't concentrate. I start thinking about dinner and cinema and how shit my imaginary clouds look. I'm not sure I really know what relaxation and meditation is, I mean, how is it possible to clear your mind of thought? I think therefore I am. If I stop thinking I'll cease to exist. And that includes planning what cakes to make and whether Leo Dicaprio looks better with or without facial hair.

kaypasa2001 said... March 10, 2010 at 4:23 AM  

Wonderful post! I have had a similar experience watching my thoughts rear-end one another in a chain-reaction pileup, but yours are a lot more fun. Mostly I come away from meditation feeling 1) stiff (legs went to sleep) and 2) stupid for having such arcane thoughts. Thanks for describing this so entertainingly!

Sandi said... March 10, 2010 at 7:00 AM  

I loved the Ramona books. Beverly Cleary is still alive and well into her 90s.

My mind is always going 100 miles per hour, so I really can't meditate.

Rassles said... March 16, 2010 at 8:13 AM  

You know, I never read a single Ramona book. Not one.

And I can shut off pretty well. It always comes as a bit of a surprise, but when someone tells me to clear my mind, sometimes I can just wipe it immediately. Sometimes it takes a minute. Usually that's when I just start imagining the opening banjo chords in "Rainbow Connection" over and over and over again, but played by a piano.

That's what works for me. A song that just calms me the hell down.

By the way, I think it is fantastic that you're meditating.

Haley said... March 22, 2010 at 9:30 AM  

my inner voice tells me to eat chocolate. She and I have become fast friends because of this fact. Love this post - I'm glad I'm not the only one who finds trying to turn off that voice next to impossible!!

Blues said... March 24, 2010 at 11:35 AM  

So fuunny, these are my exact thoughts in yoga. We are supposed to not judge the fact that we are total crazed thought freaks and try to calmly go back to the inhale exhale. BUT WHAT DO I DO IF I CAN'T STOP THINKING ABOUT HOW I CAN'T STOP THINKING?

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