A Little Perspective From Tom Church

Stress is universal, potent, and powerful. As a maturing teenager, there’s plenty in my life to go around.

Stress isn’t necessarily horrible, but of course, too much of it’s just plain awful. And I’d like to describe how I manage to deal with all of it.

Most people that are close to me don’t even know I practice meditation. Only Erin knows, actually. I’ve started recently, and it actually helps more than you’d think. It’s incredibly calming.

I heard that five minutes of each day dedicated to meditation, in one year, can decrease your biological age by twelve years. It also bolsters the immune system and acts as a healthy alternative to hours of sleep.

It’s not like I feel any of this. It’s not like I think about it. All I think about is how I feel when I do it.

It can be sublime, or ethereal. It can be drastically changing, and coming out of it the first few times, you may not feel much. You might not feel like Gotama, the Buddha, or even Govinda, his Nirvana-leeching companion. You may not feel what makes the earth spin, or what connects every last thing.

But you feel something.

I don’t promise any of those things. I can and will never be able to put such incredibly powerful and amazing concepts into simple and arbitrarily devised words. But that something grows, and it changes and ages like you do. Every thought you have is encouraged. The way you meditate will change.

Sometimes my meditation is reading a book, which thinks for me. The words tell me what I am thinking, and my thoughts subside- and I can feel calmed.

But the typical, conventional way of meditating should never be ruled out, for reasons of pointlessness or lack of faith in something so traditional. The thoughts we have are individual, and so conforming to physical meditation techniques is not really conforming at all.

When people say to clear your mind, don’t. Think about everything you can at once. Ask really big questions and count your breaths, and close your eyes. Sit in front of the window and periodically open them. Watch the rain fall or the trees dance, and ask them questions too. Thank them for things even if, in your heart, you know they don’t have any brains to say “You’re welcome.” Those are just words, after all.

When you’re meditating, it feels like everything is watching you. Not everyone,but everything- the chairs and the floor, and the ceiling. And maybe you start getting a little hot, maybe your face flushes, thinking about it all.

Don’t bring music- let other things be your music. Let creaks and chirps and squeaks be your music, and you’ll learn to love it- at least, I did. Pay attention to your thoughts, more than anything, and selective attention drowns everything else out, even what you see, and even what you feel. You sit inside of yourself, humming soft tunes that make no sense, and are garbled with everything else you ever think about and know.

After going under for some time, waking up from it all is strange. It makes little sense, because sometimes you don’t even really expect to be where you are, or you forgot about this place, dreaming of other places that seemed so much more real. Those places just leave you feeling refreshed and revived in the place you wake up in, and I imagine that’s how it’s supposed to be. Something made it so that we can be in other places than just the place we think we are exclusively, if you just think hard enough.

That’s what meditation does for me, anyway. That’s the best I can put it into words- loose and tumbling and awkward words. Meditating is to mental¬†health as cheerios are to cholesterol. It keeps us young and happy and vitalized.

Try your best, configure your niche, and dream crazy dreams in the solace of the pockets behind your eyes.

-Thom
aestheism, not atheism.

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