I write this particular entry with the full knowledge that it will prove me certifiable. Of course, when I told the story to my meditation group, they all seemed to know what I was talking about, so it’s like we are ALL certifiable.
So, meditation is a lot about recognizing that our minds are constantly constructing the world. That’s what they’re supposed to do. We get input, and then we attempt to interpret it and make sense of it. Of course, we’re mostly incorrect. Or, we’re always incorrect in some way. The degree to which other people agree with us soothes our unconscious knowledge that we’re incorrect. This is especially true when we are flat out wrong or in denial. That’s when we really look for agreement.
Of course, since I’m constructing as I say this, who knows if it’s even true. I say this even though I think my constructions are really cool and I often don’t care if anyone agrees with me or not.
However. At the meditation retreat I started having a relationship with a chair. Which is to say that I WANTED to sit on a meditation cushion. It makes me feel all spiritual (another construction). Plus, meditation cushions are cool. I didn’t want to give in to aching joints, which mean that I am AGING BY THE MINUTE. But, finally, I sat in a chair. Of course, I put a meditation cushion on the seat of the chair, which made it kind of like a baby’s high chair and I could see over the heads of everyone else. Which shouldn’t really matter, since supposedly we all had our eyes closed anyhow.
A woman walked into the hall, looked at me, looked at the chair behind me, picked up the things off the chair behind me, and put them down on the floor with some emphasis. I constructed that maybe she didn’t like my high chair, but I didn’t dwell on it, because, well, I was about to meditate and see if my back hurt as much in the chair as on the cushion. (It didn’t.)
The next time I came into the hall, about an hour later, the chair I’d sat on last time had been moved. There was now a big empty space where my chair had been. Of course, I was aware of the whole construction thing, so I did remember to wonder WHO had moved the chair. Maybe not that woman. But I also thought, “Oh my God, are we going to get into chair wars in Meditation Land?” I looked at the space, then saw that a chair was so far back in the line it was practically in the closet. I moved it back to the space, adjusted the chairs so everyone had room and sat down where I’d been before because though it wasn’t very Buddhist to be attached by the space, it was right near the window so I got to feel the breeze blowing over my skin while I was meditating, which made the meditation much more enjoyable. Until the lawn mower started, but that’s another story.
Then we learned Metta Meditation. This is lovingkindness (all one word in Buddhism). We started out by focusing on someone for whom we had a pure love without lots of conflict. I did my friend Don Foley. I know I’m safe writing that because I’m pretty sure he doesn’t read this blog, and anyhow, if he did read it, he’d be all sweet. But I’m still not going to tell him.
We continued on to give lovingkindness to ourselves, and I, like many others, started crying. Then we kept spreading the lovingkindness out to the world. It’s the kind of thing that makes you feel incredibly open and vulnerable. It feels good, but, you know, you wouldn’t want to go to Thanksgiving dinner with my family in that state if you know what I mean.
Afterward, I went to the participant refrigerator to get some protein. I had put all my labelled stuff in the far back corner because I brought too much and I was taking up disproportionate space about which I felt guilty. So I open the door and my stuff isn’t on the bottom in the back any more. It’s nowhere. Then I see my yogurt in the middle of the top shelf. And my fish oil is now in the door. I can’t find my eggs anywhere–it turns out they’re in some compartment. And I’m like, “Does someone just not like my name? Is the back of the frig prime real estate? I mean, what the F***!” I put my stuff back together on the bottom shelf and then went up to my room. I was really freaked out. I’m like, “I come to the meditators for a little peace and I have chair wars and frig wars?” I’m also like, “Why does this kind of thing get to me so much? Why can’t I just not take everything so personally?”
Give me a little credit. That lovingkindness stuff is really intense.
So I go to my room, get in a restorative yoga pose, and breathe. After about 20 minutes I feel almost normal (whatever that means).
And I go down to the frig and there’s a note on it that says that they swapped refrigerators and apologize for any inconvenience. 36 hours later I notice the new frig opens on the opposite side. I guess I just wasn’t all that mindful about the sensory world and doors following Metta.
I mean, I had a relationship with a chair and a frig and I misinterpreted them!
My mind is a mind!
Which is to say that I construct insanity!
I am now going to go meditate and do more restorative yoga so that I can notice my mind is a mind that constructs insanity.
I advise you all to do the same thing. Then we can make jokes about how crazy we all are.
Though I’m not sure I needed meditation to teach me this in a general way, it sure does make my insanity specific. Which I might enjoy. In hindsight. Someday.