If my boyfriend spoke to me the way my mind does, I would dump him

Laura Paskell-Brown is active in Women of Spirit and Faith. Aside from studying for a PhD, she is having trouble reconciling her spiritual path and the voices in her head.

Week one of the 28-day meditation challenge is over.

For the first seven days, the challenge was to sit for 20 minutes daily and watch my breath. No intervention, no forcing it, just watching.

So I’m watching…watching…but my mind keeps getting in the way: “Hey loser, did I mention that you suck at this meditating thing? You can’t even sit on a cushion and breathe without thinking. That’s pathetic”

No need to be concerned, says the guided CD, which makes it clear that there really is no way to screw this meditating thing up.

So why do I feel like there is?

Well let me see.

Do you remember teachers telling you that it wasn’t about grades so much as the effort you put in? Have you been in a yoga class recently where they told you it’s all about the practice and not the results? And have you ever known that to actually be the case? Has someone ever given you a job based on “effort”? Did anyone ever win an Olympic medal for practicing?

I don’t think so.

The world we live in is obsessed with achievement, productivity and the status one gains from both. Just existing has never had much clout, especially in the West, where we’ve managed to make even meditation into a competitive sport. What this week taught me is that, though I might spend much of my life seeking to change this state of affairs, I have imbibed it on such a deep level that I can’t claim that the problem is just “out there”. It’s “in here” too. The task master in my head dammit:

“Hey loser, what have you achieved today? You think you deserve to live based on that performance? And now you’re sitting down doing nothing? GET UP AND DO SOMEHTHING USEFUL YOU STUPID F**K!”

Would you want to quietly listen to that for twenty minutes?

I fully believe that a better world is possible. A world where we can accept others and ourselves just as we are. A world where productivity is replaced by sustainability, and where happiness is the bottom-line. I believe that with all my heart. And yet there is clearly some part of me that’s not convinced; the part of me that has has a really loud annoying voice, and likes to come out to play as soon as I try to relax and clear my mind.

Sharon Salzberg’s book “Real Happiness: the power of meditation” promises that through meditation  “You’ll be in closer touch with the best parts of yourself”. Okay, so she didn’t promise that I’d get there in a week, but sitting with the worst parts of myself is freakin’ killing me guys…

The only way is up.


Another person who appears to be having trouble with meditatation.

Forged by the Divine Feminine
Invitation to blog: Sacred Love
Inner Yearnings of External Expressions
Cycles of Seasons
  • http://theAssistant.me Jasmine

    lol- Laura, you are 2 funny! I can relate. That judge and jury committee need to be put on general PAUSE aswel. I have been catching myself judging through mindfulness as I go about my day. First the knee-jerk judgement, then all the evidence of added on story and emotion to back it up. And it was just a thought, an emotionally charged thought as many of mine seemed to be! – haha!!!
    But my inner observer is starting to be amused by
    this reflex response to people, places and things and its surprisingly taking the sting out of “how important” I think my thoughts are. – trying that sitting down thing now. – Jasmine Jobity-May
    really are.”

  • Charles

    Laura, your experience is certainly normal. I’ve been meditating daily for probably 10 or 12 years. Sometimes better, sometimes pretty distracted. It does change you, but like water flowing over a rock. To me, it’s my daily “brain rinse”. I let go of obsessions, worries, frustrations, for a few minutes each day. The interior dialogue still happens, but I don’t identify with it, or feel so owned by it. It’s just background noise. (And some days the background noise is so strong I can’t separate from it, but that gets rarer the longer I practice) Keep up the good work!

  • http://OneFamilyManyFaiths.blogspot.com Yvette

    Love the illustration of your frustration!

  • Susan

    “Do you remember teachers telling you that it wasn’t about grades so much as the effort you put in?” You KNOW I’m that teacher. ;-) So eloquent and so on-point about the challenges of creating sustainable practice.

  • http://womenofspiritandfaith.org/wsf-leadership/ Laura Paskell-Brown

    Thanks to all who commented and gave support!