In the 1970's, I tried TM (transcendental meditation). Even in a class with a teacher. I didn't go back. Sitting still wasn't in the cards. The problem was, I wanted to learn how to sit still. I knew it would help with my race brain.
Fast forward 10+ years and now I was sober with a race brain. Holy shit, that's not fun. Another maniacal buddy of mine, Kevin also thought we should maybe learn to meditate. Christ, if crazy Kevin is trying to quiet his insane mind, maybe I should try.
Well, we both flunked. We even bought a small, really small, pocketbook titled, "The 3 Minute Meditator". We even flunked that. We were both young, newly sober, and crazy and we wondered how people stayed calm. We knew how to stay calm as drunks. It was easy. Just go on a 3-week screamer.
It takes the edge off.
So, for the next bunch of years we never talked about meditation. Why should we? We had better things to do. Things that we were good at.
Secretly though, I sneaked in to yoga classes. At the end of the classes, they laid on the shitty hard floor and asked us to do the same. Thank God it was only for the last 10 minutes. With their little shitty blankies, I laid there wondering why. My brain raced like a son of a bitch. It was beyond race-brain, but I lived.
Now there was something I hated worse than meditation. YOGA! Ah what the hell, my life seemed over so I just stuck with it. Not consistently, but at least intermittently.
About 8 years later, I was looking, once again for a new, better, more personality, yoga teacher. I found one. Hell, it happened to be located in my neighborhood in Portland.
The instructor, Kathleen, was cool. She was my age and she used to be a D.C. corporate attorney. She was witty and thought I was weird, plus her class was mostly older, out-of-shape women. My welded shut body would fit in nicely. I started to like her 10-minute end of yoga quiet time. She called it meditation.
Later, I very scared and reluctantly I eventually showed up for her Thursday night meditation ONLY class. Oh God, I thought I would die. I warned her that I had to leave early because of other plans (yay sure). Jesus, 30 minutes was an eternity. I made it through. I started to believe I could learn this.
I didn't die. It wasn't an eternity. It was 30 minutes.
She said, "jake, if the Hindus call their minds, the drunken monkeys of the brain, what the hell would you call yours?"
"Uh ... maybe the drunken monkeys on speed."
Here's what I found out:
Holy shit, it started to work.
Today, I meditate all the time. Sometimes short bursts, sometimes over 30 minutes. I even do it on airplanes.
Kathleen is still a great friend of mind. She still thinks I'm weird.