The content of this blog is supposed to be funny. So I was sitting around trying to think of topics that are funny. You know, like real knee slappers. Then it came to me; that age-old bucket of laughs - meditation!
Technically I’ve been meditating for thirty-five years.
Back in grade 10 “Man and His Studies” (the course name is priceless ain’t it?) I had the coolest teacher. This was monumental for me as I enjoyed an absolutely pathetic high-school career. I can’t even remember her name although I do remember she got married at one point and it changed. But she was the most progressive individual I had met to that point. Not that I really understood the difference.
I never stood out in the class; in fact my class behavior was typical as I attempted to become invisible as soon as I walked in the door. Something different soon became apparent though. The subject matter struck me as interesting and I remember actually being engaged, and like listening. Not participating mind you, nope I’m sure my hand never once went up through the whole semester, but I was listening.
Other than discussing the finer points of a basketball pick-play or how to kip up from the mat in gymnastics, this was probably the most engrossed I’d been in a faculty member uttering words in the 4.005 years I spent in high school. The .005 is a liberal representation of the 15 minutes of the one grade 13-class that I tolerated before walking out waving a white flag and unwittingly making the decision to go to community college instead of even attempting university. Not that there was a university anywhere that would have accepted me with my marks. By the way in 1978 there really was grade 13.
Anyway, back to Ms. Whateverhernamewas, and she was a Ms. or at least she was until she was married. I guess holding on to your birthright in 1976 was too progressive, even for her. So yeah, back to her. She engaged me so much that when one day she decided it would be a good idea to teach her class of thirty moronic Brockvillians how to Transcendental Meditate, I actually listened.
I can imagine just the sound of the word “transcendental” must of had half the parents thinking about gathering with torches and pitch-forks to drive this scourge back to Toronto or whatever other city of craziness she hailed from.
I guess at the time, the inside of my head was unencumbered by very much interference. In reality, I don’t think there was much of anything happening between my ears, as I could achieve a state of Zen in twelve seconds flat. I know for a fact that I could get there in twelve seconds because of the meditation technique.
I had never heard of anything so simple. Even with my mad math skills I could follow along. All you did was count to four in cadence with your breath. When you got to four you started over again. If you suddenly bounced back to conscious focus from a state of stillness and emptiness, you just started over again. It was ingenious in its simplicity.
When you’re working with such a broad and empty an expanse as I was, three rounds of this elaborate recipe was more than enough to have me hooked up directly to a private line with Captain Cosmos. Twenty minutes later I think Ms. Toronto was ruing her decision to teach TM as it looked like she was going to have to call an ambulance to bring me back around.
To say I took to it would be a huge understatement. It immediately became the one thing that I was the best at. This kind of makes it sound like competitive meditation doesn’t it? I remember how much I enjoyed it and how for the first time it made me realize that there might be something outside of a three-dimensional existence. It would be a while yet before I was introduced to that little purple pill that brought around even more intense meditation.
So with all of this going for it, what did little grade ten genius Jerry do? Well after about twenty adventures I just kind of forgot about meditation and started to concentrate on more important things like girls and pot and booze and pot and stuff.
So let’s fast-forward thirty years. Now at this point I’ve got like a super-highway of stuff rolling around between my ears. The noise at times was deafening. All of the stuff that I had never dealt with, probably in part because I had chosen to stop meditating at 16, was constantly being re-examined and re-analyzed up there. All of this constant processing and filing of information made it a real noisy place at times.
Boy this really is a funny piece!
So one day I’m driving around listening to the CBC. You know those damn socialists on the radio who are responsible for some of this crazy liberal thinking. Or as I love to refer to it around my Conservative friends “the government funded subversion project”. Don’t fret you people, if Steven Harper has his way, the CBC will soon be broadcasting from a rusty old tanker floating somewhere in the middle of Lake Superior.
I will tend to stay away from conventional political comment except when it provides me a really cheap laugh.
Anyway, the CBC was interviewing David Lynch, you know he of those straightforward, happy-go-lucky films and television work like Eraserhead, Blue Velvet, Wild at Heart and Twin Peaks. Remember these flicks? They were awesome - totally unintelligible but awesome nonetheless. Well, lo and behold, who turns out to be the biggest proponent of TM in like the whole wide world? You betcha… David Lynch. In fact, that day he was ironically discussing how important it was to get children into meditation as early as possible.
Now this got me to remembering fondly those few meditation experiences and how profound they were, even for some sixteen-year-old self-conscious bubble-headed walking erection. And I got to thinking of the benefits of shutting down the noise for a while. Small benefits like, you know, continuing to breathe or not going violently insane. Little things like that.
So I thought, what the hey, I’ve really got to do something about my bitter discontentment with the world anyway, maybe this could be a start.
So I snuck upstairs to my beautiful bedroom. I looked out of the window at the tree-covered hill and the meandering stairs that gently descend down to the lake and the thought of just how beautiful it was, brought a tear to my eye.
But then I thought about how much I hated the little wheel in my cage and how this beauty was just a manifestation of that wheel and how it was all just an ego driven illusion and I thought; holy fuck you sick little monkey, sit down right now and get meditating.
So having retained the simple meditation recipe, I commenced. Well I didn’t quite make it to twelve. No, in fact I didn’t make it to four. I didn’t make it to four that is, before my mind was intently focusing on the next mornings meeting, the problem with the door that needed to be fixed on the weekend, which Tempranillo I was going to serve with dinner or that asshole who cut me off on the 50 earlier.
Sitting and trying to quiet my mind seemed only to have the opposite effect. It was exemplifying how many thoughts were going through my mind and at what a remarkable speed I could develop them. I had assumed that all I needed to do was follow the same process and the same result would follow. Oh how wrong I was!
It was an extremely frustrating lesson to learn that this 50ish-year-old mind had lost its easy pliability and if meditation was going to succeed I was going to have to work at it. Damn, I hate that! Have you ever tried working at something that is supposed to bring you peace, calm and a sense of centeredness and all you get is frustration and more angst.
It was a pivotal moment. In retrospect this was my “aha” moment. Suzanne had discovered her spiritual path years before and had been working diligently at it. She had been selling me hard on the plethora of life choices she was making. And of course, along the way she would “occasionally” point out little things like - if I didn’t find a center that I was going to discontinue breathing or go violently insane. You know little things like that.
I had spent a great deal of time turning myself into something I wasn’t. The idea of breaking out of this caricature seemed insurmountable. I had known for a long time that I had to do it at some point but it just seemed so monumental a task. It meant a total rebuild.
The rebuild started with meditation and learning how to reduce the number of thoughts. For a number of years, I kept dabbling at the meditation process and slowly through practice I was able to start to get to that place of peace and quiet. Then of course, those three weeks in the Ashram in India happened where the importance of meditation was on display numerous times daily. Along with this came really effective new techniques as well.
So thank you to a nameless high school teacher who introduced to a bumbling teenage boy from Brockville, with extremely big hair, the concept of meditation. I wish I could let her know that after a mere thirty-five years I have finally made it an integral part of my life.