Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Virginia Wolff's Meditation Class

1. Sit comfortably with your feet on the floor and your back straight, preferably in a hard chair like the little wooden ones back in grade school when your whole life stretched ahead of you and you never gave a thought to being here now, you just were, and pretty happy about it for the most part, especially on summer evenings out catching fireflies in jelly jars with holes punched in the lids, and barring toxic parents like my friend Eric had, causing him to "accidentally" hang himself from the bathroom shower rod when he was six, his final act of defiance against his overbearing mother who discovered him in her see-through negligee, still clutching her breakfast martini, its two little pearl onions and one olive bobbling as she ran shrieking out into the street, unsteady on her pink, feathered high-heeled bedroom slippers.

Try not to think about Eric's mother's bedroom slippers.

2. Breathe in as you normally do, without forcing it to be special or different in any way. Then breathe out, again doing it naturally. Now think only about your breath -- in and out, in and out -- paying attention only to the air as it enters your nostrils and fills your lungs or maybe even your belly, and if any thoughts come to mind, like of the 22 young people attending a musical concert whose innocence was stolen forever (along with their lives) by a misguided, impressionable home-grown terrorist in Manchester, England, with scores more suffering in area hospitals, each in various states of trauma and possibly near death themselves, just push them away and return to thinking only of your breathing, in and then out, in and then out, like a plant or an amoeba.

3. Continue sitting and keep breathing without thoughts of the time you were kidnapped, or rejected by Cornell and five other colleges and ended up going to a lesser school where you met that handsome scoundrel with so much promise you married who eventually became an alcoholic and told you about his tawdry affair (and aren't they always tawdry) with a 19-year-old waitress for as long as you can, until you have to go to the bathroom or answer a persistent knocking at the front door, or the cat jumps up onto your lap and starts that weird kneading thing that even all the animal experts don't fully understand, or perhaps you remember you've got a dental appointment where maybe today they will say that the tooth that's been a source of worry for years will have to go.

4. Do it all again tomorrow, and the day after and the day after that and the day after that, extending the length of time you do it each day so that ultimately you find you are wasting less of your precious mental energy on meaningless trivia like President Trump and whether or not his wife likes him or secretly finds him repugnant, as if the state of their marriage has anything at all to do with you or anyone else in the world but those two, or if the Russians actually caused Hillary to lose the election which of course she managed to do all by herself, being so repugnant not only to her own husband but even to many in her own party, and instead give your brain a free mental vacation every day for the rest of your life.

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