I can’t be Mindful!

Mindfulness seems to be promoted as the answer to everything these days. A panacea that will “cure what ails you” as long as you’re prepared to clear your mind and give it a shot.

Well, without denigrating the positive effects it might well have for other people. I’d just like to share my experience of mindfulness and meditation in general.

I should start Snake oil advertisementby saying that my mind is generally not quiet. It leaps around from subject to subject like a frog on acid. I have learned to deal with this, and for the most part it doesn’t cause any major problems, other than maybe finding the car keys in the bathroom cabinet and the remote for the TV in the fridge occasionally.

I would like to be able to actually remember to finish the task I’d originally set out to do occasionally though, so I have tried meditation on a few occasions, and mindfulness more recently.

Now I admire the goal of these things. Focus on inner peace, bring all your attention to bear on calming your body and mind and drift off into a general state of Nirvana. I just have one problem.

It really doesn’t work for me!

One of the standard meditation techniques is to focus on various body parts in turn, tensing and relaxing muscles, and working your way around your body. This is supposed to get your body relaxed and let your mind focus on what it needs to, be it a mantra or some relaxing inner scenario.

Are you kidding me?

Focus on my body parts? For me this has precisely the opposite effect to the one intended. I become hyper-aware of each part of my body: what it is touching and with how much pressure, whether the corresponding part on the other side of me is doing the exact same thing or – god help me! – something ever so slightly different. The end result is that my tics go into overdrive and my compulsion for symmetry means I can’t sit or lie still for the next hour or two.

I have, once or twice, managed with the help of a heavy duvet to get to a point where I can actually put some focus on what my mind is doing, but this simply ends with the mental equivalent of spinning round in the bed as though it weren’t actually an expensive Tempur mattress, but actually a nest of angry fire ants intent on punishing me for invading their home. Any kind of mental stillness becomes impossible.

Now I’ve not spoken of this with any other sufferer, so I don’t know if it’s just me or not, but I have certainly come to the conclusion that meditation and mindfulness are pretty much for other people. For me it’s the equivalent of somebody putting on a relaxing chillout album and all I hear is the latest release from Cannibal Corpse.

Am I alone here?

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