How to Achieve Mindfulness (without really trying)

BrogaApparently, “mindfulness” has nothing to do with one’s brain being full. Given my penchant for large words and a relative lack of functioning brain cells, my mind gets full rather quickly. If I turn a couple pages in a thesaurus I’ve got to lie down for half an hour.

Due to the failings of my short-term memory, however, ye olde hard-drive gets wiped clean pretty quickly and I’m able to refill. But this, I’ve learned, is not mindfulness – it’s just what happens when one’s staring down the barrel of middle-age. Fortunately for those of my generation, our elders, the Baby Boom, keep futzing with the finish line, so the bridge between our extended adolescences and eventual obsolescence keeps us mindful that the end is nigh but not too nigh.

There’s some Zen in there somewhere but I haven’t the persistence to tease it out. I was raised on MTV, which is a way of saying I’ve got ADHD in a manner better-suited to my attention span. I believe it means “Attention Deficit in High Definition,” though I haven’t the patience to look it up.

It is precisely these traits that inspired my wife, the Contessa, to sign us up for a recent “restorative yoga” class at a local yoga joint. I’m not sure what she was hoping would be restored in me but it certainly wasn’t yoga. Maybe she mistook it for a date.

Please know, I’m hip to yoga – the Contessa even teaches yoga between bouts of brand management, But like Disneyland, it’s a nice place to visit but I wouldn’t want to live there. The notion of bringing my body into a state of equilibrium, while under the directive of a clear and open mind, seems like some sort of death to me. Quiet rooms give me the heebie-jeebies; I couldn’t imagine silencing the commotion in my mind. Without the ever-present tingle of anxiety and angst, the very irritants that rouse me into self-awareness, I would likely drift off into the madhouse – or at least the bar at the girl and the fig.

So, admittedly, it was with a modicum of chagrin that, after an hour’s worth of curative postures, I realized that the class was to be followed by a guided meditation. Mind you, everyone else in the class thrilled to the notion – it was, in part, why they signed up. For me, however, having to wade into the sewer that is my “river of consciousness” is a bit of an undertaking. What if I wandered up the proverbial creek without my mental paddle? If I managed to avoid drowning in the urschleim of my mind, I’d still stand a chance of arising with the stink of self-truth dripping off me. This would make me intolerable to both myself and to others in a way I seldom achieve outside of the printed word. So, I gave it go.

Then I woke up. I would have slept through the entire meditation had my snoring not embarrassed my wife such that she was compelled to deliver a quick elbow to my ribs. Thus stirred, I enjoyed remaining moments of the class – tested, rested and restored. Perhaps even inspired. The bric-a-brac of my inner-life was still there but in better order – alphabetized, from “angst” to “zilch” and very, very low on the shelf.

When one’s neurobiology is as delicate as mine (a splash of wine tames the flame but sours the song), I’m wary of facing myself for any longer than it takes to comb my hair. But I suppose it’s worth the headache, you know, when your mind’s full.

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