I see the orange glow of the sun through my eyelids, even though I picked the shadiest part of the graveyard, under the intertwining branches of three tall trees. I open my eyes for a moment and notice that the position of the sun has changed dramatically since I first sat down. It doesn’t sink in until I’ve closed my eyes again what this means. My eyes snap open and I whip out my cellphone to check the time. I’ve been sitting here for four and a half hours.
That’s four and a half hours of wasted effort. I have accomplished nothing. I stand up and want to kick something over, but the only objects in my line of sight are tombstones, and it seems inappropriate to kick those.
“I tried to kill myself when I stopped meditating,” Penny* had said. Her eyes had widened with excitement, and her thick glasses enlarged them even more. “That’s how I know it actually did something for me! I wasn’t crazy!” She looked down at her sneakers, shoelace-less since we weren’t allowed any “dangerous” items in the hospital. She looked up at me and we both giggled. “Well, you know. Not crazy in that way.”
I have been trying to meditate for weeks and I just can’t get a hold of my subconscious. That’s my goal: to push out my conscious thoughts so I can contemplate my subconscious. I never quite get down to that level, though—it feels like waking up from a dream too fast and trying desperately to grasp the memory before it’s gone forever. Getting my conscious mind to leave my physical body is the only part of meditation I feel I have succeed at, not that it matters, but that’s only step one. Step two for me would be to leave the ground floor of my mind, the part that houses stuff like instincts and needless minutia.
Meditation saved Penny. Her experiment with stopping, she said, proved it. When changing her environment and giving her meds didn’t work, meditation did. “We are here because our thoughts are tangled,” she told me once. “You just need to learn to organize and compartmentalize them.”
“I already compartmentalize my thoughts,” I’d replied. “I try to separate everything. I just can’t do it like you can.”
“If you can teach yourself to lucid dream, you can teach yourself to meditate.”
“How did you know about that?” I asked, bewildered.
“You told me yesterday. They’d put you on some new drug and it didn’t work, remember? It made you super dizzy.” I vaguely remembered that. Oh.
I decide to try again, but I don’t want to waste another day this time. I return to the old cemetery and sit. I imagine every part of my body shutting off like a machine, starting from my toes and going up. Very slowly, my body begins to drop out of its normal over-stimulated state, and I can focus more clearly on my thoughts. I visualize all the things I think about day-to-day falling slowly into mental filing cabinets, one by one lining up for analysis. I feel completely relaxed and—
I am suddenly shaken back into reality by two girls leaning out the window of a passing car. “Talking to ghosts because you have no friends?” they taunt. I sigh as they speed away, laughing as if they are comic masterminds. I give up.
All I want to do is understand myself, and if not through meditation like Penny, I don’t know how. I want to know what is under my mind’s top layer of thought and go deeper. Much deeper. ♦
* Penny’s name has been changed to protect her privacy.