Are We Here Yet?
I’m not good at meditation. My mind just wants to wander. I know the spiritual gurus say that’s “okay too,” and I need to just “come back to the breath,” but I’ve never been able to completely let go of my thoughts when I meditate. I take three breaths and immediately think about three emails I need to reply to, or why I haven’t received the makeup bag I ordered three months ago from Instagram. (Where is that thing, anyway!? Ok, back to breathing…)
I found comfort recently in hearing Oprah, in an interview, say that when she meditates, she always ends up veering off and writing her to-do list in her head. Hey, I do that too! (Hey, I’m just like Oprah! Except without the multi-billion dollar business, the brand new sheets on my bed every night, or the school named after me Johannesburg. But otherwise...)
I’d be okay abandoning my efforts to meditate and resting in the fact that Oprah and I are basically twins. It’s just that I know I’m happier when I’m present, living in-the-mo’, and going with the flow, yo. Like most folks, I’m at my best when I’m focused -- either on one task or on the people around me. I’m enjoying my time here on earth when I’m doing one thing at a time. It doesn’t matter what that thing is. I’m even happy to make my kids’ stupid school lunches if I’m not thinking about what else I could be doing that would be more fun (a lot, mind you).
So how does one achieve presence if Ohm-ing’s not their thing?
Here are a few ways I get present without sitting and counting breaths…
Use some sense.
I find if I remind myself to experience something with senses -- the way almond butter* smells or how my hand feels cutting the bread -- I can actually enjoy focusing on making a sandwich.
*no peanut butter allowed at my kids’ school. For some reason, almonds are fine but in Los Angeles, sending kids to school with peanut butter is akin to sending them with a kilo of coke.
Walking and dancing are my favorite ways to get out of my head. Maybe cuz they force me to breathe. Also, I usually listen to music or a podcast (podcasts just for walking, not dancing. It would definitely put me in my head to try to dance to a podcast.)
Let kids or pets lead the way
Whether at home playing legos or outside sniffing foliage, kids and animals seem to know what’s up. They don’t get stuck thinking about what they need to do next. They just do. Sometimes I’ll catch myself acting control-y with my kids (“hey, weren’t we supposed to be building a castle, not an airport?”) but when I just let go and let them make the choices while we play, I don’t have to think at all. Watch an animal for a while -- it’s mesmerizing and kind of inspiring.
If you don’t have kids or pets, see if you can babysit or dog-sit. I’m sure there’s someone you know who’d be happy for the break. Or get a fish!
It’s not always easy to put aside the voice that says you’re supposed to be doing something else, or things are supposed to be different, or your kids will end up as psychopaths if you don’t step in right now! But I find when I can accept, feel (and yes, breathe), life is more fun and I actually like myself better. Even if I have to wait a little longer for that damn makeup bag.
About the Author
Marian Belgray's an L.A.-based comedian and actor-writer-producer who’s contributed to HBO, Cinemax, Nickmom, Funny or Die, and performed at clubs around Los Angeles, including El Cid, The Comedy Store, The Upright Citizens Brigade, and The Improv. Marian produces and hosts her own monthly comedy show "C.U.FirstTuesday" and the annual fundraiser For The Children (But Not Suitable For Children) Comedy Night, and shares thoughts about comedy and motherhood on her blog, “2 C-Sections and a Microphone” and in daily videos as she walks around L.A. (#WalkingInLA) on Instastories.
Marian's got a husband and two kids, all of whom she’s raising adequately. They live in the L.A. neighborhood Silverlake, where children and coffee compete with dogs and juice for real estate.
Her mission: to enjoy her life and help others do the same.