Mindfulness 101: Drown and Know That You Are Drowning.

This is my view this morning before the others are up and before a full day of 12 year-old baseball players begins. I’ve nearly made it to the bottom of my navy blue mug of coffee, when I decide to sneak in a quick, app-enabled “mindfulness” session; noting how strange it is to click the “bubbling stream” toggle to the off position. I don’t need the pre-recorded bubbling stream humming in the background of the meditation guy’s directions. I literally have a gurgling stream at my feet. So for 5 minutes, I use my son’s iPhone earbuds that I scrounged from the living room table earlier, cross over from one side of the stream to the other on well-placed stones but wearing hastily-chosen flip flops, slide a couple potted plants over to the side of the seat of a wooden bench, and meditate.

I press “play” on a session from one of the half-dozen apps gathered into my “Meditation” home screen folder. While wearing a layer of Patagucci gear because it’s a little chilly still. And vaguely annoyed (and annoyed with the fact that I am vaguely annoyed) that I am not wearing my Fitbit to measure how far my heart rate drops while meditating. The Fitbit ran out of juice last night, sending me on a fruitless power cord search in the dark, in unfamiliar environs where the light switches are unknown to me and I don’t want to wake up my sleeping, jet-lagged wife. The Fitbit now sits hooked up to the cabin’s electricity in one of the outlets, I can’t remember which one at the moment. And it’s all the way across this bubbling stream there. Despite looking painfully out of place, and totally aware how dependent I am upon technology and wearables and a disembodied voice telling me to “sit and know that I am sitting,” I force myself to close my eyes and breathe. Ahh.

But my mind darts around even more than usual. I even flicker my eyelids open at regular intervals, to defend against any sort of sneaky retribution from my brother or son. Both of whom would be entitled to sneak up on me and scream in my ear due to last night’s series of jump-scares, rocks thrown in the pond surreptitiously to mimic fish jumping while the guys fished, and generally tense, I’m-going-to-be-scared-at-any-moment-where-is-keir-hiding-now? vibe that I whipped up without mercy. So sure, I’m meditating. But I am also on edge with every sound around me that might be my brother in the grass behind me (it wasn’t) or that might be the creaky front screen door opening (it wasn’t).

Plus — and yes, this is exactly the wrong kind of “mindful” for which to be shooting while meditating as I am — I catch myself being mindful of an unpleasant scene captured yesterday at home on our driveway security camera. Late last night, my wife called my attention to some activity recorded earlier in the day (12:39 PM, to be exact). As she slept, I spent half an hour scrolling through the NestCam video footage while lying in bed. Then another 15 minutes composing a rant for my neighbors to read on the NextDoor app. It appears that an upstanding citizen sauntered into the little vestibule in our driveway in broad daylight yesterday, pee’d in my bushes, furtively took two drags from a little pipe, then went speed-walking off in a westerly direction. I’m guessing crack, but really I don’t have any idea. And I’d probably be nearly as irritated if he were puffing on a perfectly legit cigar.

“Sit and know that you are sitting,” my meditation guru reminds me from my son’s borrowed iPods. Ahhh. The stream bubbles on. I can smell the coffee in my mug. Pure bliss. Then my mind wanders to the day ahead, which features a long-ish drive to my younger son’s tournament baseball games outside Cooperstown. I’m antsy because for some reason, the games that I dutifully plugged into my iPhone’s calendar last week (Ev Game 1, Ev Game 2…), careful to ensure that I applied the proper time zone and that I “invited” my wife so that she didn’t need to do all this plugging, well, those entries have disappeared from my calendar. Totally freaking disappeared. It makes no sense. The thought of having to resort to re-doing all this calendaring is near-debilitating.

“Breathe and know that you are breathing,” he tells me. And I am in heaven. For perhaps 10 seconds. Before I am really able to settle back in, and while sprinting through an abbreviated “body scan,” I note that my ass is soaking wet. The little potted plants I slid over to claim a spot on the bench have left me a damp reminder as to why they were placed there in the first place. This bench is meant to be decorative. Not for sitting on, no matter how eco-friendly the sitter’s (now-wet) fleece pants.

“Now gently open your eyes,” he tells me. And with that, it’s over before it really began. I don’t think I ever even got to the “know that you are sitting” part, if I’m being honest.

On the plus side, my Fitbit is charged, no one has managed to sneak around to the bushes behind me, my fleece pants will dry out on their own, and the kitchen’s coffee pot is still pretty full. Now I need only navigate my way back across this raging fjord, relying on the fragile footing of my flip flops. Perhaps I will stumble into the stream. But at least I will know that I am stumbling into the stream. If I knock my head on a rock while falling down, I will know that I am knocking my head on a rock and falling down. If I drown, I will know that I am drowning. This meditation stuff is simple….

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