Meditation and Me, Me, Me
A funny thing happened on the way to enlightenment
I really should be enlightened by now.
Some people envisioned their future with flying cars. I pictured not a car but my body flying or, more accurately, levitating. Nothing fancy, just a modest hover. Enlightenment would make me humble that way.
Alas, I have failed to float so much as an inch. Unless you count the occasional bounce of excitement on the bed where I typically meditate. It feels like an electric “Oh! Oh! Om!” current passes through me. It is noticeable. But it is not flying. More like a shiver.
It’s also possible that I left the window open.
As a teenager I read an article, I think in Psychology Today, about meditating with a mantra. A mantra was described as a meaningless sound. The article said any sound would do the trick, and that Om was popular. I did not care to be popular. I was edgy and deep, dang it! But after supper one night I went into the living room, popped the clutch on the old recliner, closed my eyes and silently repeated a sound. It worked! I was about four Oms short of enlightened when Dad asked for his chair back. That was just as well because I didn’t want to frighten the family by accidentally flying around the house.
This was in 1974 in the Midwest. I imagine if I’d grown up in San Francisco, the ‘rents would be like, “Cool, but have you tried LSD?”
By the way, ‘rents is what cool kids called their parents back then. A boy who sat behind me in my third period high school writing class called his parents ‘rents. He was obviously cool because he also suggested I title my poetry assignment Feed Your Head like Grace Slick. I didn’t.
A few months later, I volunteered to work in the kitchen at a residential meditation course. In return I got room, board, and all the meditation time I could steal. A tiny woman performed a brief ceremony with a candle and incense accompanied by, I’m sorry but I’m being totally honest here, tone-deaf singing. Then in a soft solemn voice, she told me my mantra. Her reverence was a little too whispery for my ears so I had to ask her to repeat the mantra. She said it wasn’t good to say the thing aloud but she would make an exception because she wanted to make…