I sat down to meditate the other night, feeling virtuous. Fifteen minutes later, the timer went off, and I realized I had just spent my “meditation” time thinking about tacos.
If the purpose of meditation is to get out of your head, to find some inner stillness, I was definitely doing it wrong. If the purpose was to ponder whether mushrooms or black beans would make a better vegetarian taco filling, then it was a smashing success.
The truth is, meditation is mostly about failing — and refusing to get discouraged about it.
I have been practicing for more than five years, and most of the time I am:
- Rehashing something that happened at work
- Thinking of items that need to go on my to-do list
- Planning meals
- Thinking about that itch in my ear and whether I should scratch it
- Wishing I could get up and do something else
- Not meditating, even though I think I should be
And yet, I keep coming back to that spot on the couch. (No, I do not have an altar or a shrine or the dedicated meditation spot that every meditation guide instructs me to have.)
I don’t do it because it makes me blissed out and happy. I don’t do it for my self image, or for the flowy wardrobe that goes along with it. (In fact, I find meditation to be kind of an embarrassing activity. I’ve had to learn to overcome the stab of shame and defensiveness I feel why my non-meditating husband asks, playfully, “Do you have inner peace yet?”)
I do it because, every once in a while, just for a few seconds, I drop into that space where the talk recedes, and I am just feeling myself sitting on the couch, breathing, not needing anything else.
Knowing that place exists is probably the best gift I’ve ever given myself. Learning to laugh and not give up when I find myself thinking earnestly about tacos is the second best.