This week on the blog, we’re happy to offer a personal story by local writer and life coach Eddie Selover. He first shared this story on Facebook, and I was so taken by his honest and funny depiction of what happens to everyone who undertakes a meditative practice. Meditation is hard enough under the best of circumstances; but Eddie shows us that there is more to learn when we persevere in the practice when it’s really hard.
Baby Goes to Meditation Class
I’d taken a meditation class for well over a year. There was a couple in the class, and over time I watched them go from strangers to acquaintances to dating to getting married. Eventually I stopped going to the class and didn’t see any of my fellow sitters for about a year or so. But one Sunday, there was an invitation to return, so I went back. And this couple was there, with their new infant child. After cooing over the baby, we all began our sit.
I closed my eyes and focused on my breath. “Muh-heh” said the baby. Back to the breath. “Muh-heh-heh,” the baby elaborated. No no, back to the breath. And as babies do when they’re not getting their point across, it began to fuss a little more. This went on for a while, with long enough pauses for me to wonder if it was over, settle my mind, and have it start up again… louder each time.
Thoughts inevitably arose. Thoughts like: maybe you should take that baby out of the room. Your baby is crying, you should go feed it. Why exactly did you bring a baby to meditation class, you assholes?
And back to the breath.
“Waaaaaaahh,” the baby said. And for clarity, it added: “Whaaaaaaaaahhhhhhh!”
By now, all focus on my breath was lost because I was instead thinking: takeyourfuckinbabyoutofthisroomrightnow and doIhavetogetupoffthiscushion and letmeshowyouhowtorearachild and youselfishfuckinmoronsIhateyou.
It had developed into quite the ragestorm when I suddenly noticed it and thought, “Wow, I am really resisting this baby.”
And I began to explore my resistance. A tightening in the muscles. An obsessive focus on what I don’t like. A fire hose of judgment. All of me, body and mind, had become this fierce unified NO! to the experience I was having.
Just like the baby. Wait. Who exactly was the baby here? The only difference between us was: it didn’t have articulate speech, whereas I was too conditioned to be polite to give my anger voice. The baby’s full-throated objections were in fact more authentic and valid than my hopeless silent struggles with myself.
And then I had another thought: maybe this baby can help me. Every time it yowls, I can notice my resistance, and my judgment, and how I react when things or people come into my experience that I don’t like. Let’s breathe into THAT for a while.
“Whaaaaaaaaahhhhhhh!” the baby would repeat, only now each time when I’d feel the muscles tightening, I would smile. There’s that resistance again. This baby is awesome! Whaaaaaaaaahhhhhhh! Oh yes yes yes. Thank you, baby. It got better and better, and it went on for a nice little while longer.
Eventually the mother took the baby out of the room — noooo, baby, don’t go! I felt a rush of gratitude to that baby for showing more of myself to me. And a wave of relief that I didn’t have to be so goddamn zen anymore. And a familiar feeling that I am a very flawed human being and there’s no cure for it and I’m okay with that. And I noticed those feelings, and went back to my breath.
Eddie Selover is a well-known Orlando writer and communicator, a marketing communications professional, and a life coach. And he is most especially admired and appreciated as the organizer and host of PechaKucha Orlando, an event which features creatives and professionals sharing their passion for community, culture, and life in a unique 20×20 presentational format: 20 slides, each one for 20 seconds. Listen to his wonderful TEDxOrlando talk here. And join him at the next PechaKucha Orlando on Friday, December 6.