For Lent this year, in addition to giving something up, I decided to, as instructed in the gospels (Luke?), “step up my spiritual game.”
I wanted to pray better. To be more specific, I wanted to meditate.
Everybody talks about meditating and how uplifting and spiritually cleansing it is, and I’ve always wanted to try it. Well, truth be told, I have sort of tried it in the past, to no avail. I have learned that I am a seriously distracted person who cannot focus. That, or I fall asleep. I’ll be thanking God for various blessings and before I know it, I am riding a unicorn on top of my Aunt Dottie’s old house in New Jersey.
Even within places designed for prayer, I struggle to stay on task. Although we try to go every week, only about 2 percent of the time can I walk out of Mass and actually say, “I got something out of that.” Most of the time I am in la-la land or attempting to harshly whisper, “GET THAT OUT OF YOUR MOUTH.” Or in the bathroom with a child whose bowel movements seem to coincide weekly with the responsorial psalm.
Anyway, I really wanted to reap the benefits of meditation, so I decided to dedicate myself this Lent to doing so. Twenty minutes a night. I made the necessary preparations by Googling “how do you meditate” on my phone five minutes before my first session, which led me to a Buddhist web page that wanted me to buy a meditation book. Ain’t nobody got time for that!
I looked elsewhere, and came across some helpful tips, such as: “Sit in a cross-legged position with your eyes partially closed and turn your attention to your breathing.” How does one partially close their eyes? LET’S FIND OUT.
I went into our guest bedroom, kept the lights off, sat on the floor cross-legged, and began my meditation:
Here we go … about to meditate … (looks at clock, reads 9:03) … this is great … I am a good person … Breath in, breath out … breath in, breath out … wax on, wax off … Ralph Macchio … FOCUS … breathing now … I am breathing … Oh no, I am too focused on my breathing and not breathing naturally … I am having trouble breathing … how do you breath? … I forget how to breath! … do I call 911? … NO, you’re fine … just relax … think happy thoughts … green grass … baseball … gotta get tickets to spring training … focus … I am so uncomfortable sitting like this … my legs are too long to sit cross-legged … (uncrosses legs, lies down) … that’s better … God doesn’t mind, right? … God, do you mind? ... no? ... cool ... still breathing, still alive … are my eyes partially closed? … they feel all the way closed … definitely closed … zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz … (jerked awake) WHERE AM I? What? Oh geez … (looks at clock, reads 9:10) … Good enough.
And that’s pretty much how it’s gone the past couple of weeks. I’ve considered adding “the idea of meditating” to the list of things I’ve given up for Lent, but I don’t want to call it quits just yet. I feel like my inner peace might be right around the corner if I can just Google the right thing.
Note: This column appears in the 3/12 issue of The Glendale Star and the 3/13 issue of the Peoria Times.