Don’t laugh – what I’m about to say is super serious, it might even change my life:
I’ve started meditating.
Okay, fine, it’s funny. I mean, it’s not even funny anymore really, since everyone is doing it. It’s banal at this point. It’s extremely commonplace, even, and that’s what makes the fact that I’m meditating – and announcing it as if it were some super original thing – super funny.
Welcome to my daily cynicism.
I’m not going to explain to you why I started meditating, because I’m sure you already have an idea why. Like you, I live with my nose buried in my phone, I feel very small in this big, noisy city, and there’s so much I need to do to “succeed in life” that I’d need to duplicate myself (or triplicate, even, given how much I like to chill) if I wanted to be exactly like I should be, that is – be Jessica Alba, that is:
- Have a dazzling career
- A blissful family life
- A gorgeous home
- And the body of an athlete on top of it all
- Highlighted with the style of an icon, of course.
For a long time, I used my usual mechanisms for dealing with the pressures of life. Humor, cynicism, margaritas. Those systems were tested and approved over years of experience, and they worked marvelously until now.
But recently, the pressure’s become too much. It might be due to my work load, but I think it’s mostly due to the brain time that’s been added to my days because of my phone, with texts and social media (it’s the same for you, right?)
Lots of other things probably added to all of that (personal and professional) so I started feeling like I needed to do something about it.
But my problem isn’t that I can’t sit for ten minutes in silence. I can do that.
My problem is — I don’t believe in anything.
I learned to meditate when I was doing yoga. I remember my first oms, my first lotus positions, eyes closed, and even the first time I chanted something like “om shanti shanti”. And the face I made.
Deep down, I could feel the good the practice was doing me. Even so, I made fun of the pseudo-hippies who pretended to know Sanskrit. That went for yoga, but the same thing applies to any slightly New Age practice. Right away, the cynical, mocking Larry David that lives inside of me starts joking around and making fun of everything, and making fun of myself most of all.
I know I’m not the only one: I saw the yoga skeptics who would leave right before the meditation session or savasana with a look on their faces like: “hasta la vista, mystics, let’s see who gets to Whole Foods first!” and deep down, I told myself they were missing the best part of yoga class.
It’s always been like that, I’ve always had this resistance and contradiction in me, and it applies to everything even remotely related to spirituality or the mind.
But beyond my cynicism, I think it’s actually just very French. Don’t you think?
So imagine when I came to the US six years ago and my friends started talking to me about gurus and meditation and spiritual retreats, all without ever making a face to show that hey, okay, it’s a little ridiculous, but let’s talk about it anyway. So I was always oscillating between “Oh yeah, cool, I want to try it!” and “Oh no, definitely not, let’s just go out, laugh a little bit, that will get rid of your existential crisis right away.”
I tried two or three things, had a few totally bad experiences, a few horribly expensive experiences, a few great experiences, and one that was a little traumatic. For example:
I found myself with a guru-shaman on the Upper East Side who was murmuring inaudible things to “move my energies” before making me pay for a session that cost the equivalent of a pair of shoes from Barney’s next door. Shoes that probably would have moved my energy a lot faster than my barefoot guru-shaman.
I saw an osteopath in the South of France who cured me forever of my chronic urinary tract infections just by putting his hands on my back. It’s been almost ten years and they never came back. Of course, I lost this magician’s number.
I once saw a color therapist in Sydney who totally freaked me out. I didn’t believe what she was saying for a second, and I thought she was mean, and all I wanted was get the hell out of there before she tried to give me any more of those little colored vials that cost $100 each (ugh, just talking about it makes my hair stand on end!)
I saw a massage therapist in Costa Rica taught me that my body and mind worked in unison. And that I needed to stop laughing and making fun of everything and start taking care of myself.
All of these practitioners had come highly recommended by close friends, they were serious and well-intentioned. You never know what you’re getting into and honestly, you have to be careful, and take it with a huge dose of humor, because every now and then you find a gem.
But let’s get back to present day, where I’ve got no guru, no therapist, no osteopath, no witchy color therapist. But I’m feeling, every day, in my body and in my mind, the effects of my urban life that’s running 3000 miles an hour.
One day, when it was 3 in the afternoon and I was trying to write a post, while also answering four Skype messages, three texts, twenty emails, and I’d also given myself a mission to post on Instagram and edit photos for the next day’s post, all while looking at my chipped manicure (big failure in life!) I felt my heart start to beat very fast, as usual. STRESS. Hair standing on end. Feeling of dizziness. Unfortunately, it was an all-too-familiar sensation.
That day, I decided to start meditating.
And I decided to take it seriously, and to set my cynicism aside. Because you can’t believe without believing, you can’t fool your own mind, you can’t meditate without taking it at least a little bit seriously.
And it’s easy to take five or ten minutes a day to quiet the voices that tell me I look stupid sitting cross-legged in my living room with my headphones on. Five minutes a day, I take my mind seriously, I try to reconcile it with my body, and I’m learning to not let myself drown in the chaos.
Sometimes, when the stress of 3pm hits, I’ll do another five minutes. It re-centers me. It takes the pressure down. And it puts a smile back on my face.
I really believe it.
And I forbid you from laughing at me.
What about you? Have you ever tried meditating? Have you ever had to fight against your own skepticism? It’s exhausting, right?
P.S. Right now I’m using a guided meditation app (in English) that’s not too bad at all (even though I actually prefer meditating in silence, sometimes when you’re starting out, it’s nice to be guided) and it’s called Meditation Studio by Gaiam.
Translated by Andrea Perdue