Thursday, October 6, 2016

The Time I Failed At Meditation

A few months ago, when I was struggling with my recent breakup, I had the brilliant idea that meditation would make me feel better.  I searched around a little, found a legitimate-sounding course on Mindfulness-Based Meditation, and paid $500 to sign up.  The orientation session was last night.  It went somewhat like this:

Shit.  I'm late.  These things never start on time though, right?  

(Enter room in which people are sitting in a circle with their eyes closed and their hands in their laps.)


(Noisily take the one remaining chair at the front of the room.  Drop bag on floor, causing multiple people to open their eyes.)

Okay.  I can do this.  Close my eyes.  Ommmmmmm.  Do I smell like McDonald's?  Can the people around me tell that I just ate a Filet-O-Fish?


Is it morally wrong to eat a Filet-O-Fish before a meditation class?


"Good evening class.  My name is <weird New Age name that I would bet money she made up>.  I will be your leader for the next ten weeks."

Ten weeks?  Shit.  

I'm not sure I can do this for ten weeks.

(Notice that the instructor is barefoot.  With her bare feet on the classroom floor.  Try not to be grossed out thinking about the number of feet that have touched the floor and are now contaminating her feet.)

Okay.  I need to pay attention.  What is she saying?

"...homework requiring approximately 45-60 minutes..."

Homework?  I didn't know there was homework.

It's okay.  I can do 45-60 minutes of homework per week.

"...per day..."

WTF?  45-60 minutes PER DAY?  Who has time for that?

Do these people not work?

(Look around.  Notice that many of the people in the class appear to be under the age of 20Suspect that they all live in their parents' basements and do not in fact have to work.)

(Notice really smiley girl across the room who is listening intently to everything the instructor is saying.  And nodding enthusiastically.  And smiling as if she took really good drugs prior to meditation.)

"Everyone taking this class will feel differently about the process.  It's important that you use your inner wisdom to guide you to your best possible outcome."

(Snicker at use of phrase "inner wisdom".  Notice that smiley girl is nodding as if the instructor is sharing truly profound insights into the nature of the universe.  Uncertain if I should be feeling vastly superior or inferior to smiley girl at this moment.)

"...inner wisdom..."

OMG.  I can't listen to this woman talk about "inner wisdom" for ten weeks.  I will kill her.

"...inner wisdom..."


(Look around to see if anyone else is losing their mind like I am.  Notice more people smiling and nodding at the instructor.   Am now convinced that the instructor handed out drugs while I was stuffing my face with fries in my car.)

"And now we will work together to develop our guidelines for supporting each other through the next ten weeks, as we learn more about meditation and about ourselves.  Who wishes to suggest the first guideline?"

No.  OMG no.  Are we five?  This is what I used to do with the kids at the summer program I ran as a teenager.  THE KIDS WHO WERE FIVE.

(The woman next to me speaks)  "I think it's very important that we respect each others' inner spirits.  Because we're all here to make our inner spirits stronger, and if we say hurtful things, it can weaken our inner spirits."

(Officially hate woman next to me.  And do not ever want to hear the word "inner" used in any context ever again.)

(Notice that the name tag of the woman next to me says Beaghan.  Because her parents were clearly crazy.) 

(Smiley girl talks)  "I just want to say that I feel really lucky to be here.  So, so lucky."


"I feel like the universe has presented me with a gift of wonderful people to learn from and to grow with."


Shit.  I hope that noise is just in my head.  Am I making that noise out loud?

Do I smell like french fries?

"Alright class.  This is an excellent list!  I can tell that the next 10 weeks are going to be a joyful experience of learning and growing..."

No they aren't.             

"...and sharing..."

I'm not sharing anything with you crazy people.

"...inner wisdom..."

Stop saying that.

"...inner spirits..."

 Now you're just fucking with me.

"Now, some people decide after the first class that they simply aren't ready to take this journey that we're about to embark on."!  That's me!

"Maybe their lives are too busy, or maybe their inner spirit just isn't in the right place to undertake a spiritual quest at this time."

Or maybe they think you're nuts, you barefoot hippy.

"If you are feeling this way..."


" can receive a full refund on your course fees until 4 PM tomorrow."

And that is how I failed at meditation.       


  1. I took a MBSR course a few years ago and it was nothing like that (inner spirits and all), so I hope you're not giving up on the whole idea of meditation yet :-). I've recently got the Calm App which offers guided meditations (10 - 15 minutes) and I like that one a lot.

    For an entertaining and informative overview about various meditation practices I can also recommend the book "10% happier" by Dan Harris.

    1. I certainly haven't given up on the idea of MBSR, but the course I went to wasn't for me! I'm thinking I might try a course again in the spring when my life is a bit less hectic (ha!).

      I really enjoyed 10% Happier! It was actually one of the things that motivated me to try MBSR.

  2. Whoa. I'd be scrambling for a refund too. *facepalm*

    There is an online MBSR course that I did which is free. Here's the link:

    I liked it because as a doc with a call schedule, it's pretty much impossible for me to commit to meeting on a particular day 8 weeks in a row. So I could work through the readings and watch the videos on my own time. They do recommend you spend about 30 minutes a day meditating (for the body scan and the sitting meditation there's also a 20 minute option). I think you get out of it what you put in.

    1. Thanks! online course might work better with my schedule. Trying to fit a course around call (or to do a course while carrying a pager) isn't the easiest thing.

      Did you find MBSR useful?

    2. Yes, I did. I think the 10% happier thing is pretty accurate. It doesn't solve all your problems but it gives you more tools for dealing with them. I still meditate for about 20 minutes almost every day.

  3. Yay for full refund! Good luck finding an option that works for you.

  4. Oh yikes, yeah I would have felt the same!

    I also took an MBSR course last year that was nothing like that. Taught by a woman who was a primary care NP for years and teaches the same course at the community health center where I was working.

    In the meantime - I love these free ones. They even have 3-5 min ones (which I've done on lunch at work or when I somehow arrive 5 mins early) and I find her voice very gentle and soothing. Might be a little less daunting than starting with 45 mins a day!!

  5. That was pretty much how my experience with a similar class went a few years back. Only imagine your classmates are hyper competitive medical students.

    1. What happened to you blog, OMDG? I had been reading well before Dyl was born?

  6. I stumbled past your blog today and laughed so hard at this post!!! You have a great talent for writing! I could literally smell the McDonalds!!!

  7. This is my fear! It seems we have opinions though. I wonder how many people requested that refund and we just faking it? I'd like to think I would be as polite as you were but I fear that I'd have left midway through.