Back when men were men and ‘feeling presence’ was something Darth Vader did at Christmas, I never gave much time to mindfulness. It feels contrived even now, a step away from renouncing alcohol and travelling the world like a hobo ( . . . oh right). Yet for 3 months I’ve meditated almost every day, finding it a peaceful way to wake up before the internet barges through my door. I actually feel a bit discombobulated if I don’t, a little out of kilter. This week, the Treasury of Mindfulness, on top of Jay Shetty’s Buddhist filled Think like a Monk, talks about ‘being present’.
The authors suggest to start with slow breathing, and then begin to test the senses: note five things that you see, even transient things like children playing football in the park or sunlight dappling through trees; note four things you can feel, such as wind’s caress or t-shirt on your body (if you’re into that wearing clothes stuff); note three things you can hear, such as chirping birds; two things you can smell such as a passing woman’s perfume (don’t get weird about) or someone’s cooking; and finally whatever you can taste. I’ve tried this even cleaning my teeth, and I immediately take a breath and slow down.
As for meditation, here’s my process: first I slaughter a calf. Ok not really. Positioning myself comfortably on the couch, I start with three or four deep, slow breaths, letting thoughts flutter in and out. After several minutes the brain calms a bit, and I gradually visualise a sunrise, full and bright, breaking through dark clouds to provide a spectacular warm white light. I think the brightness may be a remnant from Wim Hof (along with the cold showers), but I feel thoroughly refreshed afterwards, like I’ve just had a spring clean in my brain. As with anything, it takes practice. Sometimes I can focus on the blinding light and feel ethereal, and sometimes it never arrives. Either way, I then stretch a little, make some tea and gradually let the world in.
Sensing my oneness (pah!) and contemplating retiring to Nepal as the whitest yogi of them all, I then haphazardly picked up Extreme Ownership by a couple of US Navy Seals. I felt like I’d opened the front door after a peaceful moonlight walk to see a terrifying werewolf raiding the fridge. I slowly backed away, turned the audiobook off and will try again later. My delicate oneness needs more time; The Force just isn’t there yet.
Writing and writing...