I often feel like something is wrong, as if I’m missing out, or simply missing the point. Like an ever-present prompt, reminding me that the other shoe looms close by, hanging from a slim string. I’m advised constantly by my meddling mind that things are not quite right…and yet, the answer to solving my persistent problem remains just out of reach, something I can’t quite put my finger on.
For some time now, I’ve been determined to find that intangible remedy that promises “peace of mind”. Yet instead, I’ve become a self-help junkie, hopping from workshop to healer, having past-life regressions, rebirths, my aura cleared, chakras balanced, charts read, cards pulled, colon cleansed…and in case you’re wondering, I’m seeing a shrink.
Years of my life have been spent collecting ideas and constructing elaborate observations. Yet often, I’ve used these discoveries to see myself as broken by focusing on what’s wrong with me.
According to my Vedic astrologer, I’m in a “Saturn cycle”. Apparently Saturn is the planet that brings shit to the fan of one’s life, amplifying internal/external difficulty. Woo hoo! Yet, the “gift” from this cosmic chiropractor is the potential to “find oneself”.
Not long ago, two of my dearest friends, Lynn Zavaro, a spiritual teacher, and Sarah Taylor, a meditation coach, suggested I try a Buddhist “mindfulness” practice. For months, I sat still every morning before sunrise, focusing on a single object at the tip of my nose, while repeatedly counting to 10.
Well… Instead of cultivating calmness, I could barely get to number 2 without the voice of doom interrupting louder than ever. My mind was full alright, flooded with fears, to-do lists, disappearing dreams, debilitating defects, unrequited longings…and a stream of worries — from impeding terrorist attacks, to that overdue earthquake, shrinking global resources, and the inevitable World War over said remaining resources about which my intelligent friend John Chung keeps talking about.
Feeling frustrated, I decided to up my mind game after Sarah and Lynn invited me to attend a 4-day silent retreat on Mount Baldy.
On the final day of the retreat, 30 participants were packed in a cold zendo, sitting atop our stiff zabutons, guided through a meditation that explored the “true nature of mind”, by visualizing a descent into the depths of our brains. We were asked to observe closely whatever appeared during the mediation, since afterwards we’d have an opportunity to share what occurred.
The only time allotted to speak at the workshop was during the daily dharma talks, brief discussions following hours of meditation that commenced at the wicked hour of 6am.
Following the meditation, practitioners reported a profound silence they’d never experienced. Others felt “appreciative joy”, describing an “expansive blissful luminosity”. Sarah said, “I felt as if I was cradled by compassion itself. The universe was smiling upon me with such love and tenderness, and I realized I am not separate from this loving tenderness. It is woven into the very fabric of my being.”
After everyone’s revelations were revealed, I raised my hand shoulder height:
“A’hem…well…uhm…I kinda saw…a little…a robot of sorts…I mean, he looked more like ET, but he acted and talked like a robot. He was translucent brown with reddish light inside, like in the scene when ET finds his heart. Wait, was ET looking for his heart? No, he wanted to bring peace to the planet, right?”
(No answer, so I continued)
“Anyway, this robot kept asking the same question, over and over: ‘What’s wrong? Where’s the problem?’ He wouldn’t shut up! He just kept repeating himself, as he looked around like a startled cat, quickly this way and that. Occasionally he added: ‘I’ll FIX it!’ I don’t think he means harm. He seems to want to help. Maybe he’s lonely. I think I’m going to call him Choid.”
A few silent nods and a muffled chuckle later, we broke for lunch. As I sat alone in silence, with a bowl of veggie chili, my newfound friend, Choid, continued his chatter:
“You know, next time you should keep your mouth shut. You sound like an idiot. You’re like the person in dance class with no rhythm. Have you noticed you suck at this meditation crap?”
As Choid pointed repeatedly to the waste of time and money I just spent, I began to ponder the problem I have with this little extraterrestrial dude sitting in the center of my cerebral tissue pointing out problems. Couldn’t I better use an inner advocate for the Bright Side?
Come to think of it, this jerk has been sabotaging would-be happiness most of my life! My once fancy-free imagination has been hijacked and turned into a torture chamber of negativity thanks to Mr. Choid! If this jackass is whom I’m meant to “find” during my Saturn cycle, I’m more screwed than I thought!
As my obsessing mind began to quiet, I started to realize I was making a problem from my problem. Sure, I got an issue with this little handyman fucker who finds and fix-ates on flaws. Or…if Choid is the mechanism that finds fault, could he be finding a problem with himself?
I then remembered a French friend of mine once saying, “Why du yew Amerghicans want tu git reed ov problems? I leeve for my problems.”
Obviously a part of me digs having problems, or I wouldn’t manufacture so many. Maybe I should move to Paris and unite with my melancholic and troubled tribe…?
When I talked to Sarah about my predicament, she gave me an unexpected high-five and said, “Congratulations, you encountered the ego, which is one of the reasons we meditate! Sure, we do it to know our true nature, but also to see what’s in the way.”
So what if meditation isn’t my particular gateway to nirvana? Everyone’s path of inspiration is different. I, like some seeking souls, enjoy exploring the psycho-spiritual realms, but sometimes I’d rather organize my closet.
Who cares if I’m no expert at meditation? It’s more than undermining to assume I should be good at everything I try. God knows (and so does Choid), I’m not good at many things, yet I’m exceptionally skilled at recognizing the glass half-empty.
Big deal if Choid keeps me neurotic and full of angst? If I were merely a perpetually perky parts model, this would be a vapid boring blog all about nail products and celebrity encounters.
Why not have Choid steer the wheel from time to time? Sure, I’d prefer him to take a backseat, but that never stops the bastard from insisting I take the Highway to Hell, while he points out warnings ahead, grumbles about my poor driving skills, complains about the other drivers, and reminds me I’m LATE and may never arrive…
Whether I like it or not, Choid is along for the ride. But it’s my choice to either tune into his backseat direction, or turn up the volume in the front seat to drown out all that noise with a sweet song.
With every part and all my heart,
Believe it or not, Choid can’t find a problem with this product!
Whoops, I lied. He just reminded me that this brand of mascara is made of chemicals and with all the concerns over toxins in cosmetics, who knows if it’ll eventually cause eye tumors?
That being said, while I’m a strong believer in staying as au natural as possible, I also recognize that once in a while, a little science won’t kill ya’ (I hope).
I’ve tried numerous mascaras, from expensive designer brands, to the organic variety at health food stores, and I keep coming back to Maybelline Great Lash. It wears well, doesn’t clump, is inexpensive and conveniently found at any drugstore. And if you’re dark like me (and my inner android, Choid), it comes in Blackest Black – my favorite shade for long lush-looking lashes!