Since I started this blog, a number of my friends have suggested that I try meditation. And because I have such smart friends, I generally listen to what they have to say. So I asked my pal Charlie, who’s a former alter boy, current Buddhist and also the most Jewish-y person I know, to suggest a few books for beginners.
He recommended two titles: Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind by Shunryu Suzuki and Wherever You Go, There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life by Jon Kabat-Zinn. I immediately downloaded them both to my iPad.
And felt so energized! This was going to be a piece of cosmic cake, I thought. I’ll plow through these books, they’ll instruct me on the art of Zen (“Nothing happens next. This is it.”) and I’ll be meditating my ass off in no time.
But first I played a few games on Words with Friends. And then got lost in Eyewitness, a great photography app. Oh look! I have mail! And that reminds me, I need to FaceTime with Zach and ask him about his first week at school.
After about an hour or so of iPadding (damn you to hell, Steve Jobs!), I finally did take a peek at one of the books and the passage below stopped me cold, which is appropriate because it’s about the concept of stopping:
Try stopping, sitting down, and becoming aware of your breathing once in a while throughout the day. It can be for five minutes, or even five seconds. Let go into full acceptance of the present moment, including how you are feeling and what you perceive to be happening. For these moments, don’t try to change anything at all, just breathe and let go. Give yourself permission to allow this moment to be exactly as it is, and allow yourself to be exactly as you are. Then, when you’re ready, move in the direction your heart tells you to go, mindfully with resolution.
So I tried it and WOW!
Just like the book said: Nothing happened.
Other than the serene and familiar sound of receiving a new email. From Charlie:
One caveat: you shouldn’t write about the actual practice of meditation until you do it for about a month. Not that anything magical happens after a month, it’s just that writing about the experience earlier would be like describing what it’s like to play basketball after you learn how to dribble. Of course, the thing about meditation is it’s all about the practice. There’s only so much you can say about it, and the whole point is to do it. Kinda like fucking, actually…
Okay, now we’re finally talking!