awkwardly, and with cockroaches

[Another entry in which I go on for fuckin’ ages about something that was supposed to be just a short aside]

Meditation is a thing I do now (thrice  update: fourice). On a Thursday after work I go to a beautiful boutique hotel at the end of a long soi off Sukhumvit. The beautiful boutique hotel has a shrine room above the library. It also has subtle outdoor lighting and contemplative gardens furnished with many tree-shaped natures to really set the mind at ease. At reception they seem to approve of yoga pants as long as they are ethically woven from organic fibres to produce a comfortable-yet-fashionable recreational clothing item suitable for the average, usually vegetarian, middle-class bohemian. It’s a really peaceful, luxurious location and a wonderful shrine room – an attic with a tastefully decorated alter and Buddha image, wooden floors, meditation cushions and blankets. They provide us with sandwiches and drinks before the session to help us achieve maximum Zen, and they do it all completely free of charge, though contributions are encouraged.

I go to meditation for peace and quietfulness and to get some stillness inside, but also just to sit in a room ignoring a group of strangers who are also ignoring me. It’s a wonderful feeling of community without the awkwardness of actually having to make small talk with people (despite coffee and sandwiches being on offer, I tend to show up at 5-minutes-to-meditation time to avoid feeling awkward when I have to try and make conversation with people and realise that I don’t have anything even remotely interesting to say to them).

My new hobby of relaxing meditation is one of the most stressful hobbies I’ve ever had. It’s almost as stressful as playing jenga in a bar full of people, which is pretty freakin’ stressful lemmie tell ya. First of all, the sitting. Second of all, ALL THE OTHER THINGS. Sounds easy but have you ever tried sitting in one position for an extended period of time? Snakes on a mantra-freakin’ PLANE – it is HARD. Harder than double-hard plural math. First you get a bit twitchy, bits of you start to hurt, your feet go to sleep, your brain starts to go haywire. Etc. For example:

20 seconds in and your body’s all,  ok, all this resting is fine but it’s been, like, at least an hour now and we’re not on the BTS or going to sleep or internetting so I’m getting a bit freaked out by all this sitting, what’s going on, is something wrong, ARE WE ALIVE, OMIFUCKINGSHITMAYBEWE’REDEA- [twitches foot just to check] oh. ok. we’re fine. good. just sitting. sitting around. arouuuuund. arouuuuuuuuuuuuuuuund. wow. words really start to sound strange when you think about them for too long. aaaaaarooooooouuuuuund. WHAT WAS THAT? oh wait. nope. nothing happened. ok. just checking. checkiiiiiiing. checkiiiiiiiii-

hey, i’m getting this. i’m really getting it. look at me, just meditating the shit out of everyone in the room. yeah bitches. check my posture. i’m so zen right now. I AM MOTHERFUCKING ZEEEEEEEEN. AH FUCK WHAT’S HAPPENED TO MY FOOT WHY CAN’T I FEEL MY FOOT? Is it still there? It’s still there. Fuck. Fuck, that is NUMB. (surreptitiously pokes foot) Nothing. Fuck. OK, stay focused. Don’t panic. Fuck, what if it starts to go blue? How long can a foot survive without blood? Or is it trapped nerves that makes it go numb? Will I get pins and needles? If it’s numb how come it HURTS? Will it need amputating? Can I move without disturbing the woman next to me? If I move it’s like I’ve lost, isn’t it? Fuck. Don’t move. Don’t move. FUCK I’VE GOT TO MOVE! (moves). Shit, I think I just ruined everyone’s zen. Who knew cushions could be so loud. Ok. Back to it. Zenning ou-

AAAARRRRRRRGGGGGHHHHHH! PINS AND NEEDLES! IT’S AGONY!!! WHAT THE FUCK?!?!AAAARRRGH! UNIMAGINABLE PAAAAAIN!

Do people get amputations because of pins and needles? Is this what having a ghost limb feels like? If I got stuck in a cliff could I cut off my arm? What happened to the arm afterwards? Would you become a vegetarian? Are Buddhists vegetarian? How… [ad infinitum].

Anyway. Whatevs. t’s a process YO.

The monk who leads our meditation sessions is called Pandit. Or maybe Dave. He looks like a Dave but I don’t know whether or not you give up your previous identity when you ordain as a Buddhist monk. He is British but totes legit: orange-robed and bald and exuding Zen and humour. The humour catches me off guard, like monks aren’t supposed to have fun because they’re on a spiritual path DAGNAMMIT and they need to be SIRRIUS about this shit. WHAT’S FUNNY ABOUT ENLIGHTENMENT, EY?

Sometimes he talks about having friends in Real Life  and about HTML coding and about playing the guitar. When he talks about these things it seems a bit off-kilter.He also talks about spiritual paths and achieving enlightenment which always strikes me as a bit fruitloopsome, but he also sometimes asks us to think about what our state of mind will be when we’re dying, and I really like that he talks about dying as if it’s normal and not weird, and it seems like a practical consideration and a sensible application of meditation skills. Come now, nobody talks about dying in a real way even though it happens all the time, to everyone, and we especially don’t talk about preparing for it,because it sounds morbid [Note to dad: DON’T WORRY. I AM ABSOLUTELY FINE. SIT DOWN. HAVE A BISCUIT].

When he mentioned it the first time I was really struck by the realisation that the act of dying will be the very last thing we ever do, and when we get around to it – hopefully not for a bloody long time – we’ll probably be spending those last moments – OUR LAST EVER LIFEMENTS – lamenting the things we haven’t done, the time we haven’t had, the people we’ll leave behind, feeling angry or guilty or – oh crap, it just dawned on me what my last moment will be like… bloody hell, you can just imagine it can’t you?: I’ll be laying there with that twisty awkward feeling in my stomach, thinking to myself ohmigodwhyamisoawkwar… [DEAD] . FFS!  My gravestone will read: she died as she lived: awkwardly, and with cockroaches.

DAMNIT! NO!

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4 thoughts on “awkwardly, and with cockroaches

  1. Bruce says:

    Having just sat down and eaten a packet of digestive biscuits.
    Humprh – well there is nothign wrong in thinking about death – unless you spend a lot of time doing it – it is probably as interesing as having a dump – and perhaps a little bit less strenuous.
    As Pink Floyd said “Why should I be frightened of dying – you’ve gotta go sometime” – and go we all will.
    My thoughts – well I think it will be a surprise – a bit like having a crash on a motorbike – I’ve had a couple of those. Don’t expect it, it is very sudden, it is unavaoidable, it is VERY surprising, it can hurt fom a little bit to a lot – and it is just part of life. The only exception is that although death is a part of life – it is also the end of it.
    But then – whne I die I will no doubt return to where I was before I was born – and hang around there a bit more. Course that could be anywhere or nowhere – Guess I am just an “Everywhere and nowhere baby”.
    Cheers. Bruce (AKA DAD)

  2. elsewhereunderwritten says:

    Great ending to this post – particularly apt given that it’s a post about another kind of ending. Yes, it’s a metablogpost! (thank goodness I did that English degree).

    So, basically, what you’re saying is that meditation will help you to ignore all of the bad shit that you’ve done during your life, a kind of mental valium so that your last moments on this earth are felt – what, feeling nothing (except perhaps pins and needles in your foot)? Is that a good thing or a bad thing? I’m undecided.

    We wanted to go and do some free meditation classes when we were in Chiang Mai, but never got our shit together (another thing to reflect on in my deathbed). When you reach enlightenment, please could you let me know whether it’s worth the effort? Thanks awfully.

    • Sasperella says:

      Ignore the bad stuff? Nah, not that. Just not be overwhelmed by it. Recognise. Accept. Learn. Move on. Dwelling isn’t productive. And at the end, not feeling NOTHING, but not spending the last minutes wasting time with wishes that can’t come true. Unless you’ve got the energy to die furiously, of course, in which case “RAGE AGAINST THE DYING OF THE LIGHT”!

      I’ll send you an email from Nirvana. I doubt there’ll be much else to do: just feeling smug and emailing people about how smug you feel.

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