I keep writing these strait-laced, business-casual posts. Time for something different, less dull.
Let’s talk about consciousness.
I’m a more experienced meditator now. I have my cushion, I sit on it, I set the timer for 10 minutes, I mind my breath. That’s the drill.
I’m sure that, in the grand scheme of things, I’ve gone from ‘terrible’ to merely ‘very bad.’ It’s an improvement. My mind still wanders like a dog off the leash; it responds to my commands, occasionally, to return to my breath, never for very long. But, for a few moments, it does.
And that’s progress. The noticeable kind.
As I said, I go in 10-minute increments. As time has gone on, that’s become increasingly helpful. My mind has this ‘creamy’ quality after meditation, like everything is a little brighter, and I can luxuriate in my thoughts slightly more.
I’ve seen something else, too, the marginal value of that time. Alternative forms of happy-making look less appealing. Because basically, while meditating, you are working directly on the levers of happiness – controlling the mind – vs. indirectly, changing something that the mind will respond to, to control it.
Direct control is always better. Business owners know that, everybody knows that: direct is best. Faster, too – in a few minutes, it can make a emotional change that’s visible to the naked eye.
A real-life example. Something bothers me. I could have a drink, or eat something, or watch TV; usually, it takes a big dose of any of those to make a difference, measured in time or money (often both).
Not very effective.
With meditation, 10 minutes is a useful unit of time. 10 minutes! Suddenly, meditation opens up time, by making small amounts meaningful again. And 20 minutes is the baseline for neutralizing something unpleasant.
Need more? Apply more. Units are units, and they are (roughly) scaleable; that is, more helps more than less. You’ll never be worse off than before.
What hurts is, being exposed to the source of the pain, and then ‘sitting’ with it, dissipating the force throughout your whole being. Attention does this. The pain is caused by the thing itself, yes, but also, by avoiding it. Attention is the opposite of avoidance, and strips that part of it away. Then it’s just the thing itself, which softens under the force of sustained attention. There’s an interlude, then it’s OK.
So far, dryly logical. Here’s the juicy part.
There’s something in that interval between breaths, right between them, that’s deep, and mystical. Something to do with time, and how you experience it, before words, and slowing down time, by inhabiting that space fully. Something else, too. I’m not really good enough yet to fully access it, or do more than point to it.
But ultimately? Here be dragons.