2013 was the year I decided to pursue a lifelong goal and finally learn to meditate. But my progress hasn’t been as swift as anticipated. Despite committing to a full five minutes a day for the last six weeks, I’m not feeling remotely enlightened. I complained about this to the ToolMaster, who suggested I attend a community class.
“Why?” I said. “So I can sit beside other people pursuing the same goal, which as I understand it, is to be able to sit beside me and remain completely oblivious to my presence? I don’t need to leave the house for that.”
Anyway, despite rough road conditions and -43° weather, I decided to give it a try. Last night was my first meeting.
It was a gross disappoint.
To begin with, one gentleman–let’s call him Don–used a clumsy metaphor to justify training the mind. If you’re walking across a lawn strewn with sharp stones, he said, you have several choices. You can complain about the ground, attempt to cover it with softer material, or you could do the simple thing and put on shoes. (First problem of the night: In this example, your feet represent your brain and the ground is reality. If you were going to assign a body part to represent the seat of consciousness, wouldn’t you go for something more elegant than feet?)
This is where I decided to be a proactive learner. I raised my hand. “What kind of shoes?”
“Are we talking tennis shoes or high heels?
“I…don’t think it matters. The principle–”
“I don’t think you understand. Put us all in high heels in January, and we’ll end up with broken ankles, Don.”
“Okaay. Then tennis shoes are fine.”
“Saucony or Nike? Because I’ve restarted dance class and can’t risk plantar fasciitis again.”
Then Don got red in the face and a female teacher took over for a while. While I’m sure she’s a nice person, this is an example of her lecture style:
“It is vereeeery imporrrtant to hmmmmm. Otherwise you can never be free of hmmmm-hmmm-hmmmmmmmm.”
<teacher laughs joyfully and nods> “And we all long to be free of hmmmm-hmmm-hmmmmmmm, don’t we?”
All I could think was, Consonants are your friend, people. Claim those consonants.
But this continued. For another twenty minutes.
It seemed so purposeful, I decided on possible explanations:
1. Someone in that room owns a hearing-aid business.
2. I’ve stumbled upon a cell of Buddhist extremists. (At first glance this would seem ridiculous, but please note I was the only newbie in a sparsely attended meeting, and I’m certain when I asked the shoe-question they made raised eyebrows at each another. Also? There were unfamiliar words they kept using, like “Bodhisattva” and “sūtra.”
Let us not forget that in the 7th season of 24, when the President’s sister’s co-worker is held at a detention facility, he observes grown men calling each other “brother”, slapping shoulders, and uttering foreign-sounding phrases. Thanks to his vigilance, for a few hours there they thought they’d crack a terrorist plot, save the US, and made President Palmer look good. While it’s hard for me to believe my prime minister would look good in any circumstance, I can’t allow partisanship to dull my intellect.
3. Learning to meditate causes you to become a mumbler.
4. This is their idea of Buddhist humor, giving the new girl a mindf*ck so as to convince her she desperately needs their help. Buddhist gaslighters. Go figure.
But I don’t know, Zesties. Between the whole ignoring one another thing, and the mumbling, and their disinterest in my foot-health, I’m not sure I’ll go again.
Would you attend a meditation class? Have you? How is your hearing at public events? Lastly, runners or high heels, and why?