I closed my eyes, then I opened them again. I looked one way and then the other, checking to make sure no one was watching me. I stared motionless for ten long seconds. Convinced that I was alone, I closed my eyes once more, took a deep breath and clasped my hands over my heart.
I kept my eyes shut this time and took one long breath after another. I was trying something new: meditation.
The perfectionist in me worried that I was doing it wrong. Can you meditate incorrectly? Is there a right way or a wrong way? I wasn’t sure, but this felt strange.
Meanwhile, the achiever in me wanted to know when I would reach a complete zen-like peace. Five minutes? Why not? The guy on TV talked about the peace he felt. Why not me?
I had decided to try mediation as a way to reduce some stress. I figured it could be another tool in the work-life balance tool box, right there with exercise and sleep. The carpenter has his toolbox filled with hammers, nails, a file, a drill, and on and on. My toolbox was going to be filled with everything I would need to help me balance the demands that we all have in our lives.
A mixed bag
When I’ve tried meditation in the past, one of two things has happened: I either fall asleep within a minute or two or feel like a complete crazy loon and move onto something else.
This time, I did exactly as advertised, I picked a quiet area. Okay it wasn’t all that quiet, but it was the best I could muster, inside my car in a parking lot far away from the busy street and other cars. It was a concrete jungle, but for the moment, a quiet concrete jungle.
I took off my jacket and made myself comfortable in my seat. I sat quietly for a few minutes before closing my eyes. I took a deep breadth, let it out slowly, and tried to quiet my innermost thoughts — the three stories I was writing, the project that I needed to get to my boss, and the bills that I needed to check on and send out that evening.
Let the circus begin
And I waited for the magic to happen.
My mind still raced. Did I need to say anything? Abracadabra or Alakazam, perhaps? Did I need to recite some magic word that would put me in a state of relaxation and calm?
No, no, nothing really happened, so I shut my eyes even tighter, like a little kid desperately trying to fall asleep on Christmas Eve. Yea, yea, maybe that would work I thought to myself.
I waited some more and more and it never really came, but over time something else did.
I stopped worrying if someone was watching me from the park across the street. I stopped worrying too about the two work meetings that I had on my calendar planned for later in the day. But that’s not all. My mind stopped buzzing with a million different thoughts. I wouldn’t say that I was relaxed, but I certainly wasn’t full of spastic jitters.
When I opened my eyes, I noticed for the first time a beautiful brownish owl sitting like a statue on nearby fencepost. I shook my head, surprised that I hadn’t seen him when I pulled into the parking lot.
And finally, for the first time that day, I smiled.