I'm sitting cross-legged with a cushion under the posterior part of my posterior, hands on my knees, back hypothetically straight. It's just half an hour of meditation. I can clear my mind for that long, right? Or I could count to 1800. 1800 is a small number.
Mind clear. Breathing steady. Bliss! Boredom. Are we done yet? I open my eyes and realize three minutes have passed. Crap. My neck starts tilting from side to side of its own accord. I stop it. Then I realize my hands are tracing small circles over my knees. I stop that. A minute later I start rocking back and forth, hungry for some kinetic sensation. Stop.
Stop; breathe. Breathe, count, breathe. I count 1, 2, 3, 4, and visualize the numbers in my head. Wait, what typeface was that? Bitstream vera sans mono doesn't have serifs! Delete that serif... that looks much better- damn, what am I thinking about? 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 - that 6 is from Arial, and why does the ascender- argh. New tactic.
Eyes open. Look around the room slowly. Everyone else is sitting still, breathing blissfully. I sit still. A screaming starts in the back of my mind. When I feel antsy and force myself to sit still, there's always screaming in the back of my mind; at least one part of me is still shouting as loud as possible. (Apparently, this is not normal. I did not know until last week this was not normal.) I want to move. It felt good this morning when I danced and leapt across the floor, and good last night when I drummed until my palms were red and sore. I want to do that again. But I'm sitting still now, breathing.
...and picking out the individual voice-lines for an a capella arrangement of "Smooth Criminal." WHAT THE HELL. I try to drown the Michael Jackson out by concentrating on my breathing, and I count again. 1 - ah, I'm distracted. 1, 2, 3. 5, 8, 13. I'm digging my fingers into my knee to keep track, but I'm out of fingers now - but I can do it in binary, so I do that, drumming the Fibonacci sequence in binary onto my knee with my fingers. Not entirely sure how this happened.
To make matters worse, I've slid forward off my cushion onto the floor and I'm rocking back and forth again. Gotta focus! Gotta stop. I breathe. I still my fingers. I open my eyes. I watch the clock hand go around. And again. I want to see the mechanism inside. (We're lasercutting clocks in the Wellesley class I'm TAing.) I need to get trained on the laser cutter. (Could you lasercut OLPC peripherals in a Fab Lab?) How do you organize an open source community? (My head drops downwards in thought.) Hey, my socks don't match! (I... am really bad at this concentration thing.)
This goes on for about another 15 minutes until the instructor chants the final "Om," which is like a merciful beacon to me because now I can move and look around without feeling guilty. The thing is, this happens whenever I try to concentrate on something for an extended period of time (note the word "try" - sometimes I slip into something and get lost in it and don't have to try, but good luck breaking me out of that work-reverie. Apparently this is also not normal. I also did not know until last week this was not normal.) I feel like my brain is generally trying to implement spread-spectrum frequency hopping and failing gloriously - that all this thought is radiating off, getting lost, because it has to spew somewhere.
Someone once described me as an "outdoor cat." I'll wander in and out when I'm hungry, but you generally can't find me. My brain's like that too. An outdoor cat. It'll cuddle in your cranium once in a while, but when it gets in a feral mood, then - I have to run around the building, or pace the hallway, or play piano, or something, in order to even be able to work. I wonder if learning to meditate would help me, if I can find a way to do it that won't frustrate me.
Or maybe I can just give up on meditation and learn how to dance and drum instead.