If you’ve ever done a guided meditation, you’ve probably noticed that the meditation leaders (is that what they’re called? Do those people have an official title?) encourage the listeners to focus their minds on positive, calming things. Typically, you’re supposed to repeat affirmations in your head, or think about the places where you feel safe and happy. Oftentimes, they ask you to reflect on what you’re grateful for in your life.
That’s all well and good. It’s good to be grateful. It’s good to focus on the things that are going well in my life. It’s good to have a positive attitude.
It’s also a bit of a snooze fest.
During a typical day, we use up 92.7% of our brain power* thinking about plenty of stuff that we don’t really want to think about – bills, paperwork, rogue political candidates, etc. So, if we’re going to use the remaining 7.3% of our mental energy* on meditating, on just sitting still and focusing our minds on something, then that something should be really good, right? Things that make us glad to be alive. Stuff that brings us genuine comfort, or puts a smile on our faces.
*made up statistics
These are the kinds of things I’d rather meditate about:
- The smell, sight, and taste of chocolate. Candy bars. Cookies. Ice cream. Brownies. I feel calm already.
- The sensation of having my back scratched, or my hair washed.
- My own private island: Weather that’s warm enough for swimming, but isn’t too hot. Crystal-clear water. A chimpanzee with bartending skills. A hammock to lie in, but not the kind where your elbow or knee falls through the hole and you get stuck.
- What it’d feel like to sink into a bathtub filled with warm mashed potatoes. You heard me.
- Sam and Dean Winchester.
- The inner peace that washes over me when I walk into a used book store and find that they have a large clearance section.
- The delightful, if foolish, idea of Tina Fey discovering my blog, becoming a huge fan of my weird posts, and offering me a job.
- The feeling of slipping under a thick, warm comforter on a cold winter night.
- The utter joy of being locked in a room with 19 baby corgis.
I asked the people I know to try meditating about the things that bring them joy in their lives, be they attractive celebrities, the sound of children’s laughter, or the smell of sharpies. No judgment here. Then, I asked the “meditators” to share with me their personal results from this challenge.
These are actual testimonies from the meditation participants:
“Five minutes of meditating about kittens cured my adult acne forever!” – best friend
“I no longer have kidney disease!” – relative
“My spouse stopped cheating on me, and we’re no longer getting a divorce!” – boss
Do you meditate when you need to de-stress or improve your mood? If you were to liven up your meditations, what sorts of things would you think about? Even if you don’t meditate, what kinds of things would you reflect on if you did?