Fighting for mindfulness

By Tim Drugan-Eppich TNHsquareLogo_longLOVE

In a world where everything is moving so quickly, where we are all expected to keep up with the news, our families, and what our friends ate for breakfast, it is difficult to stop and appreciate any given moment.  I am already prone to distractibility, so living in the moment is especially difficult for me.

How often are you reading something and realize- when you get to the end of a paragraph, page, or even book- that you have no idea what you just read?  That could be happening right now.  I’m sure that one person reading these words is not ingesting them in any capacity and is failing to recognize the irony of the situation.  But I can’t judge, seeing as I spend a good portion of my day doing things over again because I was in a vegetative state the first time I completed them.

In fact, as I write this, I am actively trying to keep my brain on track to finish this column.  There is a squirrel running about outside, looking quite peeved at the dreary weather, no doubt just as irritated at the late arriving spring as the rest of us.  But I should not be writing about squirrels, I should be writing about what I started writing about.  Which I can’t remember. Let me quickly reference the top paragraph for a moment. Excuse me.

Ah, living in the moment.  When I try to sit and appreciate any moment, within fifteen seconds my brain is leading me down a path that is nowhere near where I was hoping to go.  A few weeks ago in a moment of sunshine, I dragged a chair onto my lawn to feel the sun on my face.  While I did my best to listen to the birds in the trees, the blowing of the breeze, and other things that rhyme with eeez, my thoughts began to drift away to the future and the past.  Why did I make such a fool of myself in middle school by telling everyone I was going to be a professional baseball player?  What was I thinking when I tried improv comedy?  How in the world am I going to pay rent after college?  Am I just another schmuck?

A moment later, when I was back inside, drowning my thoughts in the vacuum that is the internet, it occurred to me that my overthinking had ruined a beautiful moment for myself.  I had taken the best that nature had to offer, terrified myself, and scurried back indoors to let the internet do the thinking for me.  What a horrible way to live!  So I’ve decided to train myself to better appreciate each day, each interaction, each moment. I have to say, it has been a sharp, searing, intolerable pain in my rear end.

I started with a book called True Happiness, which is a meditation book teaching you how to find – you guessed it – true happiness.  The title shouldn’t have irritated me, but it did.  Who is this author to suggest that she knows what true happiness is?  Are you saying my happiness isn’t as good as your happiness?  You think you’re better than me?

Then I realized the irony of the situation.  I am trying to become a more appreciative person by seeing things for what they are, and here I am getting angry at the title of a book trying to help me do just that.  So I plowed ahead and did my best to get through the main points being presented inside.

The whole idea with meditation and “mindfulness” is seeing things for the way that they are.  Not overlaying your own prejudices on top of actual reality.  For someone who is tremendously judgmental, this is proving to be a challenge.

My prejudices come out when I try to meditate, or be alone with my thoughts, which is terrifying.  While I do judge other people often and indiscriminately, I judge myself as well.  With meditation, the idea is to acknowledge each thought that passes through your mind and not have any feeling about it, just let it go, like clouds passing overhead.  For me, every thought I have, I feel the need to acknowledge it, tell it that it is one of my stupidest thoughts ever, and then berate myself for being the kind of person that would have such a moronic thought.  What a stupid cloud that was!

But I will continue trying, because while right now I spend my meditation time wondering how much longer I have to go, maybe someday I will be able to sit still and be at peace with my thoughts.  Or at least have a more compassionate relationship with them.  And through that, a more compassionate relationship with the world around me, which is always a good thing.

Tim Drugan-Eppich is a junior majoring in English.