Rhodri Marsden: My spirited attempt to deal with dramatic developments

Life on Marsden

Rhodri Marsden
Monday 02 September 2013 17:15
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I've started meditating. I had no other option. So engaged have I become with the minute detail of everything going on around me that my alert levels have soared to "critical" and troops armed with sedatives have been put on standby. An example: I've been watching television drama as if I have a personal stake in the outcome – not just of the storyline, but the success of the programme and the livelihoods of the cast and crew. It's unsustainable.

Meditation is something I thought I'd never do, such as voting Conservative or discovering penicillin, but desperate situations call for desperate measures. There's a quote by the artist Francis Bacon along the lines of "getting through life requires you to treat absolutely everything as completely unimportant", and that's the state of mind I'm trying to access.

But I've always had an aversion to meditation, for fairly predictable reasons. I associate it with people who describe themselves as spiritual and then bring hand percussion to barbecues. They also exude a smug, self-assured air of confidence, as if they've discovered the answer to absolutely everything – but I can't buy into their faith any more than I can buy into Welsh Presbyterianism. I put far more trust in people who exhibit natural human traits such as nail biting, glancing around nervously, and apologising for no reason.

I guess I should be sufficiently impressed by the serenity of accomplished meditators to ask them for advice, but my history of sitting still while keeping my eyes shut is somewhat chequered. The last time was 10 years ago when a hypnotherapist with lots of certificates on her wall repeatedly tapped on my arm while I tried not to laugh.

But I found a meditation website that uses the word "mindfulness" instead of meditation, and while the word "mindfulness" makes me want to burn dictionaries, at least it allows me to get over my meditation issues. I wouldn't say the process has been easy; if you're like me, when you sit on a chair in your living room and close your eyes you generally start worrying that by the time you open them someone will have quietly removed all your belongings and put them on eBay.

But this website's good. For 10 minutes a day I achieve some kind of "mindfulness". That's still 1,430 minutes of mindlessness per day, but hey, everyone has to start somewhere.

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