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Sunday, March 25, 2001
Few tasks are tougher than being thoughtless
By AMY CHAVEZ
Meditation increases concentration and mindfulness. That's what this book on Zen meditation says. It instructs me to concentrate for 20 minutes on nothing. Absolutely nothing. One strategy to prevent stray thoughts from entering the mind, the book says, is to concentrate on my breathing.
So I set my watch alarm for 20 minutes and started meditating. This should be easy, I thought -- I've gone whole days thinking about nothing.
Here is a transcript of my first meditation:
Deep breath--in-out. In-out. Deep breath--in-out, in-out. Nothing. Doing good, thinking about nothing. In-out. Meditating with dogs. Huh? Where did that thought come from? Nothing. In-out. Nothing. Hmm, I wonder what I'll make for lunch. Oops! I'm supposed to be thinking about nothing. Yes, nothing. Nothing.
Hot fudge sundaes. Nothing. Angel food cake. Nothing. Girl Scout cookies. Hey-stop that! Nothing. Nothing. Nothing . . .
In-out, in-out. Ahhhh, in-out. Looking into closed eyelids is like looking at a big snow field. White. Poor visibility. Need a transceiver. In-out. Large cliff.
Jumping off. Nothing. In-out, in-out. Falling. Out. Nothing. Nothing. Out.
Came to. In-out. Long fall. Everything fine. Walking. Walking into snowfield. In-out. "The ants go marching one by one, hurrah, hurrah." Hey, stop that! In-out. Shallow breathing, in-out. Like my dog, in-out. Except I don't snore. In-out.
In-out. Silence is getting louder. In-out. Harry Potter. In-out. Nothing. Remember, think about nothing . . .
Dee-dee. Da-da-da. Nothing baby, really nothing. Nooothiiiiing-g-g. Be-be-bop. Do-do-do-dee-dee. Woops.
In-out. Deep breath. In-out. Restful . . . nothing . . . hmmmmm . . . nice . . . in-out, in-out, in-out . . .
Ah! Forgot my hair appointment today! Embarrassing. I'll call right now. Not right now. Am meditating. Will call after. It'll be fine. I'm supposed to be thinking about nothing, not about how I could be walking out of the beauty salon right now looking like an asparagus. Maybe it's better I missed the appointment. Karma. Last time she gave me "Love and Peace Candy" that turned my tongue blue. Grrr.
Wonder how many minutes have passed.
Breathing. In-out, in-out. Ohhh, what's that sound? Faint creaking. Possible heaving of house into sea. Must be the termites. Imagine having houses as your staple diet. How much nourishment can there be in a house? Definitely does not meet the daily recommended allowance of vitamins and minerals. But few calories for sure. So why are termites so fat?
Ahhhh, my breathing. How is it possible to think about nothing? Mooooooooo! Eh?
Hmmmm . . . hmmmm. Ahhhhh. I wonder how much money they spend on glue at the post office every year? In-out. That guy standing in line in front of me had embroidered on the back of his jacket, "The more fast, the more dangerous. It let us recover the sense of equilibrium intellectual and merry face is tamed." Sad thing is, I understand it.
Lunch. Maybe will go to that Italian restaurant and order "Anti paste" or "Eggplant meet gratin rice." Nice to meet you.
In-out, baby, in-ouuuut. Wonder how many more minutes left. In-out. Snow field again.
Thinking about nothing. Breathing. Nothing. Breathing. Feeling a little lightheaded. Hope that's OK.
Like my mind unplugged. Must improve concentration. Must think of nothing rather than everything. Nothing rather than something. Concentric concentration.
"That's the way, uh-huh, uh-huh, I like it, uh-huh, uh-huh." Oh, stop.
Nothing. Nothing. Hey, I'm doing it. Nothing. In-out, in-out. Breathing. One-two, in-out. One-two, in-out. Up-down, in-out. Hey, I'm concentrating on nothing! In-out, in-out.
Beep-beep-beep. the alarm sounds. Where have I been for the last 20 minutes? Oh, yes, nowhere.
The book assures me I will improve. Improve on thinking about nothing, that is.
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