Here Today

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I don't often think about Don Ameche. Hardly at all. Yet on Tuesday, in the middle of my first ever meditation class, I couldn't stop thinking about him. As I tried to keep my mind free of all thoughts other than the mantra of my breathing, there was an alternative mantra skipping about my head: Don Ameche, Don Ameche, Don Ameche. I didn't question it; I thought perhaps it was part of freeing my mind. Squashed on the tube home, I read the Evening Standard over someone's shoulder and saw that Don Ameche had just died. So unnerved was I by my new clairvoyance that I hardly remember my meditation class at all - maybe that means it was successful.

I remember being offered a cup of tea by a girl who then said I couldn't have it because there was no water. 'Thanks,' I said. The walls were a bare, soothing cream, and in the centre of the room was a wooden statue - perhaps of Ganesh, although it may have been George Harrison. We sat around in a circle, spines straight, on the green cushions. 'Are you comfortable?' the instructor asked us, and I was, except that the man sitting next to me looked like Travis Bickle. I tried not to make any sudden movements.

The meditation itself entailed concentrating on the energy we felt as the breath entered our noses. My nose was stuffed up, so I didn't feel any energy, but I did feel faint and nauseous. When we were allowed to breathe through our mouths I sank into it more, counting between breaths and floating in a state not dissimilar to sleep. Then the instructor brought us out and offered us some thoughts.

'Breathing,' he said, fixing us with steely, all-knowing eyes, 'is quite a healthy thing. Breathing is good.' And I remember thinking: 'yes, breathing is good'.