Breathe a little deeper, focusing your mind’s eye deep through the core of your diaphragm, imagining a string hooked under your sternum pulling you up until your spine is in the proper alignment. This is your enlightenment. Today, you learn you are human.
Your hips aren’t quite flexible enough to be sitting half-lotus as you are, but you tell yourself “with practice comes adjustment.” Your knees wonder if that’s true. Your brain wonders if all the people sitting across from you wearing sweat pants and graphic tee-shirts are beating you to enlightenment. They look so still when you pay attention enough though you were told not to pay attention to them.
All of us are students, each confirmed as of the PayPal receipt being emailed after payment of the suggested donation, two-hundred and fifty dollars, your grocery tab each month. You have been sitting in meditation for only half of the thirty minute session and you’re confident it’s about to end. You have only been through two classes so far, so your internal clock isn’t quite tuned to the task of sitting with your thoughts. There is, supposedly, a directive given by Mishnu, the monk (or would that be nun?), to non-judgmentally dismiss any thoughts that come up while you’re sitting (nuns have always been Catholic to me, in their habits), which leads you to judge every thought with careful scrutiny (something about projecting your celibacy gives people moral currency, but only when it’s for faith?)
You wonder if Freud meditated and if that’s why his theories were uncomfortably specific, a reflexively universalized kink list, showing the world of amateur psychologists you can say anything and appear intelligent, while a whole new profession adopted his clever little filters to make their work specialized and unique in the jobs market. Some people just need to talk to people. You need to talk to people. Not the people you’ve been trying, and failing, to talk to, but people in general, those ninety-nine-point-nine etcetera folks you have never met, all pools of light, all of them, all filled with light, and the dead leaves floating in the desiccated pool made from light, vibrating, fading yet alive still for now.
But here you are, sitting in a room full of strangers who have all committed to not thinking of anything for thirty minutes, all uncomfortably, all for some deep-seated insecurity they’ll (and you’ll) do anything to get rid of, anything besides confronting themselves (re: yourself).
Dismiss that thought. If you put your hands together like you’re praying and bow, you’ll be excused for adjusting the pillow beneath your crotch so you’re not leaning on your balls so much. It’s best to be comfortable so you can clear your mind of all that shit you just thought. No need to sit pretty if you’re straining, the posture is just the table setting, but the breathing is the meal.
And you count to five in Korean until Mishnu tells you to rub your face. You rub your face and break up the tiny webs in thousands of unthought-of muscles, muscles that make you smile and talk, your fleshy mask, tense and rigid – overworked in the service of nothing.