“The first stages of meditation should be simply observation of breath. Concentrate on the nostrils where the breath flows in… out… in… out. Be aware of the touch of air as it strikes the passage through the nostrils. In fact be aware of everything and nothing. This sounds contradictory. Yet it is really not. For this is no time to daydream, to entertain vagrant and migratory thoughts. You are aware of your physical posture. Then you forget that also. You are aware that the past is dead, that it is gone. Yet specific consciousness of your whole preceding life is absent. The future does not yet exist. All you have is “right now”… the in… out… in… out rhythm of the breath of life.”—from Beginning Insight Mediation by Dorothy Figen
At meditation class last night, we sat nervously cross-legged and tried not to fidget. The teacher asked us to choose our seat, commit to our seat, and then follow the breath. Observe it—just normal breathing, in and out. Whenever our minds began to chatter, we were to acknowlege it with the word ‘Thinking’ in our minds, and then bring our attention back to the breath.
We practised for five minutes. I call my meditating side Mary, after saintly Mary in the Little House in the Prairie books. My other side is pert, chattering Laura.
In. Out. In. Out.
‘I should get these cushions. They’re kind of cool. I could make a whole little meditation corner in my apartment. Maybe with a little plastic Buddha statue like Paul had on FTrain. And some screens.’ said Laura.
‘Thinking,’ Mary reproved.
In. Out. In. Out. In. Out.
‘Wow. I’m doing well. I bet I’ll turn into someone really serene and centered. Shit, wait, does this count as spiritual materialism?’
‘Thinking,’ said Mary.
In. Out. In. Out. In.
‘My back hurts. I should do more yoga. Like Christy Turlington. She sings so badly in that Calvin Klein ad. I should get some of that new Calvin Klein lipgloss.’
‘Thinking.’ said Mary, sterner now.
In. Out. In. Out. In. Out. In. Out.
‘I wonder if I should be counting the breaths? Or saying some kind of mantra?’
On the way home, I basked in serenity until a big-ass SUV roared into my path and cut me off.
‘Hey! FUCKFACE!’ said Laura.
‘Thinking.’ said Mary, sweetly.