Monday, October 18, 2010

The Uptight Spiritualist - Volume 1

An Occasional Column

For several years now, I, Anna Lefler—conventional briefcase-toter, reflexive shirt-tucker and habitual thank-you-note-writer—have been on a metaphysical quest: to find a spiritual practice that solves life's big mysteries, provides comfort in trying times and illuminates the path toward becoming an all-around better person.

Is that too much to ask?

In this new, occasional column, I share with you what I've learned so far.

The Uptight Spiritualist - Volume 1

How to Meditate

First, find a quiet location where you can sit comfortably for 20 minutes without interruption. Before settling in, remove your shoes and turn off your cell phone and any other device that might distract your untrained, novice mind.

Now, sit with your hands loose in your lap. Taking a deep b
reath, close your eyes. Allow your shoulders to relax and fall away from your earlobes. Visualize your mind as an elevator gliding down your spine, dropping lower and lower into yourself.

During this descent, realize that you have forgotten your mantra. Yes, the personal, customized mantra that was bestowed on you and you alone by the nice lady from the Transcendental Meditation Center with the Harpo Marx hairdo.

You've already called her once because you forgot it, and if you call again, she'll know you haven't meditated since last week, when you're supposed to be doing it morning and night. Nope, you can't call her again.

Keeping your eyes closed, scrunch up your face and concentrate. Think back to the moment the TM lady gave you your special word. It reminded you of something, didn't it? Yes, that's right. When you first heard it, you thought of a name. But whose name? Wait, it was someone famous – a sports figure. You've almost got it. NBA? Yes!


Wait, is that it? "Kareem?" Grimace harder and dig deep. Nope, Kareem is all you've got. You're going with it.

Back in the elevator, continue your descent. Your destination is the base of the spine, also known as your dirt chakra. No, make that root – your root chakra. Chastise yourself for this mistake and continue your deep breathing.

By now you have arrived at a spiritual destination deep within yourself, as indicated by two factors: you feel spiritual and/or deep and, no matter how many times you push the button, your elevator will go no lower.


Now, then. Empty your mind.

That's right – drain it like a sink of dirty dishwater. Right now.

As you perform this super-easy task, enjoy the spastic thought-flurries that leap from your mind like flying fish ahead of a tourist cruise to Catalina.


Is that my car alarm?


That salesgirl was totally lying; these yoga pants do give me Kardashian butt.


How come the NBA guys stopped wearing those tiny shorts, anyway?


I bet I could lift a motorcycle if I tried.


Fight the urge to peek at the clock to see how many of the 20 minutes are remaining. Remind yourself that the five minutes you spent trying to remember your mantra don't count. Nor do the two minutes you spent trying to crack your neck.

All right, empty your mind again and this time put your back into it.

Deep breath.


Your mind is an aquarium. Thoughts swim by like tiny fishes but do not disturb you. They merely move past you on their way to investigate the plastic treasure chest in the bottom of the tank. See how the lid opens and closes. Is there a battery in there or what? Because I don't see a cord.


Consider the possibility that meditation would be easy if you 1) were vegan 2) listened to more Cat Stevens 3) hadn't mocked the TM lady's velvet fanny pack to your work friends.


Spend the next five minutes trying to think of something you're actually good at. [Optional: fall asleep.]


It is now time to begin your ascent and return to your everyday level of consciousness as indicated by the elevator button marked "PH" or "penthouse." When you discover that your elevator does not list a penthouse, become anxious and attempt to exit at the plaza level.

Open your eyes, staying attuned to any shifts in feeling or perception as a result of your recent meditative state. Recognize that you feel relaxed. Also, you could go for a snack.

Four minutes later, as you're standing in your pantry eating a handful of tortilla chips, recall your correct mantra.

Huge Thanks To...

...trail-blazing Creative Alliance '10 organizers Lee Vandeman, Jessica Bern and Andrea Fellman for a truly unforgettable, inspirational weekend.

...Ann Imig, whose Listen to Your Mother Salon took our collective breath away (while benefiting OPCC's Sojourn Program for battered women).

...creative Jedi Lisa Page Rosenberg, who made presenting our session a delightful experience.

...all of the warm, generous women who attended (what a privilege to be in your company!).

...the fantastic event sponsors: Moji, Paper Culture, Ciao Bella Gellato and CalNaturale.

It was an honor to be a part of this inaugural happening. I'm ready for next year!


hokgardner said...

I am so making Kareem my mantra - when and if I start meditating, that is.

larainydays said...

Your mind is a flighty bird and I relate. My mantra is bazooka.

Lori @ In Pursuit of It All said...

So glad you had a good time!

Thought about you all (I've totally given up on trying to make y'all sound like something I could ever pull off saying) this weekend, and was hopeful for a fun event.

And every time I try to meditate I become convinced that I've bounced a check.

Apparently something about relaxed, paced breathing makes me doubt my bank balance.

essbesee said...

you could totally lift a motorcycle.

Anonymous said...

I'm still looking for my cell phone chakra.

Karen at French Skinny said...

I had no idea you could incorporate nachos into a meditation. I'm all in.

Jeanne Estridge said...

Yep, that's meditation all right. My mind is like an untrained monkey, running every direction.

Ann Imig said...

I COL cackled on larynx!

So funny.

I miss you already dude.

I mean, Kareem.

La Belette Rouge said...

Hey, I thought Karadashian butt was a good thing!;-) I am no meditator. Can you come up with a less effortful mode of coming to enlightenment? Thanks. ;-)xo

Cheryl said...

If Kareem were my mantra I'd be transported back to 1986 sitting in front of an 11" TV watching the Lakers vs. Celtics in the finals drinking an adult beverage and eating pretzels while simultaneously screaming at the ref for that last bad call because Kareem was totally fouling Bird on that shot.

That's meditation my flight of the bumble bee brained friend. Focus is all.

FreshHell said...

Hee hee! Thank you for the laugh. I'll try to remember this when I'm in yoga class tonight. Hopefully I won't laugh out loud.

KLZ said...

Are you sure velvet fanny pack wasn't your actual mantra?

Anna Whiston-Donaldson said...

Too funny! I can so relate.

K A B L O O E Y said...

Meditation would be so much easier if they'd just let you read magazines. And maybe drink coffee. Meditation would be so much easier if it was more like hanging out at Barnes and Noble. Ahhh, that's relaxing.

Alexandra said...

But sleeping can be thought of as the same as meditation, if you fall asleep to whispering Kareem kareem...

So, we're all doing all right here...meditating for at least 6 to 7 hours a night, in the late evening...just until after daybreak.

I feel so rested when I'm through.

Kristen Howerton said...

You could totally lift a motorcycle.

Unknown said...

my mantra is gelatin
pronounced gela teen

this was ridiculously funny, Anna
because it was pretty damn spot on with the way I meditate..especially the tortilla chip part

Shari said...

Especially loved the wandering mind during "Kareem"... so so funny.

Anonymous said...

gostei muito de seu blog, é diferente e divertido. vou ficar, posso? o meu é este:

HermanTurnip said...

For the past 30+ years I myself had also been a habitual shirt-tuckerer. I couldn't go out the door without my shirt tucked in. It didn't matter if it was a button-down work shirt or a hip t-shirt with an ironic graphic about the follies of our culture. I *had* to tuck in my shirt.

But that all changed last year when the wife pulled me aside one morning before heading out to work on "casual Friday". She pulled the shirttails out from my pants, kissed me on the cheek and told me to "relax, and have a great day."

I haven't tucked in my shirt since. Liberation, Karin is her name. Still can't believe she married me...

Dmobile215 said...

This blog is really unique that is about all I can say, I am done!

TheUndertaker said...

Haha, that gave me a laugh. 'Your mind is an aquarium. Thoughts swim by like tiny fishes but do not disturb you.' Man, I would imagine piranhas and sharks coming in, and some pirates for good measure, for sure.
Thanks for keeping us 'enlightened'!

Ash said...

"Take up meditation" is on my to-do list, but I'm pretty sure CPS would frown upon me using duct tape to ensure the required 20-minutes of peace and quiet is met.

Maybe when Youngest gets to kindergarten next year?

Unknown said...

This is every meditation session I have tried ... minus thoughts of Kardashian butt. But thanks, now I'll just think of that :)

You had me chuckling all through this post. I really love your writing style. Keep up the good work!

purplemoon said...

Great blog, would've laughed longer but I was sitting seiza and my knees started to sKareeem. Cheers

Donna said...

LOL - Hilarious exploration into your Monkey Mind - will definitely be sharing this one with all the folks on
Thanks for keeping it real.
Just a note: you can choose whatever mantra resonates, let go and find one that works for you - it'll get you to the nachos 5 minutes faster.

Anonymous said...

I don't need to meditate to empty my mind of chatter, because I have no brain. My children stole it.

Anonymous said...

I don't need to meditate to quiet the chatter in my mind, because I don't have a brain any more. My children stole it.