“Doobie Do?” I’m referring in my typically idiotic way to doing and being as it pertains to meditation. I haven’t really talked much about meditation in my blog even though I’ve been practicing it for over twenty years now. The kind I favor is vipassana meditation, also known as “insight” meditation, which is all the rage these days.
Despite what you may have heard, this form of meditation is not designed for blissing out, eliminating stress, transcending reality, improving your blood pressure, eliminating wrinkles, upping your I.Q., losing weight, or meeting God face-to-face. I’m not saying any of that isn’t entirely impossible. It might also make you sexier, too, but all of those outcomes, if they happen at all, are mere side-effects.
Most other forms of meditation are about various ways to concentrate, which can certainly lead to bliss, but insight meditation is about being, not doing, striving, or efforting.
Slow down. Stop. The most common way to get started stopping begins with getting comfortable. Find a way to be both relaxed and alert. Gently close your eyes or if you prefer, leave them partially open, but don’t focus on anything. Bring your attention to your body, something that most of us tend to ignore until it complains. Usually, but not invariably, you then focus on your breath, just observing, not controlling.
If you are like most of us mortals, thoughts, emotions, pains, itches, stuff of one sort or another will arise. Let it. This isn’t about not thinking. It’s not even about not-doing if you are trying to not-do. Let stuff come up, let it pass away. Ideally, your interest is in seeing the processes of your heart/mind without involving yourself in the content of thoughts, plans, worries, wishes, daydreams, what’s the next show to binge-watch, whatever.
Eventually, if you don’t fall asleep or get so antsy and bored you can’t stand it and turn to some form of entertainment or distraction (isn’t there a piece of strawberry cheesecake left in the fridge?), your mind will become quieter. There’s no guarantees, you understand, but if you persist in not doing, just being, a degree of stillness may ensue.
If it doesn’t, don’t kick yourself. This not-doing definitely includes no self-criticism. Be kind. Don’t “do” kindness, just be kind. Don’t look for “breakthroughs” or ecstacy. Relax and watch.
Do this for 10 minutes a day. Next time, make it 20. If you want to increase it, do so, but you are under no compunction to do marathon meditation.
With enough patience, this sort of practice may lead you to a revolutionary, deep and profound understanding of how our interface with reality actually works. It may change your life to something more spacious, elegant, mysterious and beautiful. It may even cure bunions and halitosis!
But that’s not the assignment! Even if you just stop and be for a little while, your overworked and habitual mode of operation will benefit from the break. Or not. Don’t take my word for it. I’m just a crazy comic-book cartoonist.
Next time: speaking of crazy, we got flying bananas!
Oh yeah. If you would like to read “The Case of the Renegade Refrigerator” in its entirety, please feel free to go to Amazon.com and buy Multiverse Comics and Stories, a full-color 100-page comic available in print and Kindle versions. Show support for Jeff Bezos in his case against the National Enquirer, or maybe just for an aging and possibly demented cartoonist.