In an effort to calm myself down and stop the world spinning. I’ve been trying out some meditation tapes. Six so far and they all work in that it has to be very good for you, to sit very still striving towards a serene mind. It’s an improvement on thinking about the first thing in the queue of things to think about, with something always waiting in the wings. (My late brother was a time and motions study engineer. I sometimes think I might be imbued with his spirit. Not a minute wasted.
I suspect the best of the tapes is the most serious – Meditation Heavy, you might call it. The dark-velvet male voice talks about universal God a lot and the voice through the earphones is dark velvet with rapier penetration, The downside is that it requires you to vocalise a lot. AAHH for the morning meditations, OOHMM for the evening trips. I could certainly feel the slowing down, the return to slow contemplative sanity. But the downside is the vocalisation. Although the door to the little room is firmly shut, embarrassment stops me vocalising freely. This, of course, demonstrate my latent inability to let go: my tendency not only to watch myself do something, but empathise with other people’s reaction to my doing it. All copy. The writer’s curse.
On the other end of the scale is what you might call Meditation Lite – a soothing chirrupy female voice backed by syrup-y film soundtrack music.She asks me to visualise a film on a screen where I a the star who wins out against all odds and ends up believing in herself. Despite being slightly gloopy this works as well as Meditation . Afterwards I am transformed - fresh and motivated. I am more effective in my day.
In between these two extremes are the more storytelling, visualisation tapes where I have to imagine myself in a place. So I can put myself on the moors in Weardale or beside a river in the Languedoc, where I can drop into a hypnotic trance and assure myself I am what I am; that I have no fear; that I am a worthwhile person; that I have the power to make myself happy; that I can make myself achieve my dreams.
While I enjoy the visualisations most, the effect of these very different meditation experiences is the same: I emerge transformed – fresh and motivated. I am more effective in my day.
Of course the common denominator of these experiences is just sitting still, slowing down and relaxing, for thirty whole minutes, twice a day. This is what does the trick. Real meditaters can do it without the crutch of tapes or resonant voices in the ear. It is rightly called a discipline and has someone who applies discipline to various other parts of my life I find this impossible. I need a voice to guide me, to pace me. Otherwise I think too much.
So I’m telling my stressed friends now, ‘Feeling stressed? Get a tape – any tape – and go meditate!’