Barnhart Media
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carpe bucko

the felt wall

A guided mindfulness meditation:

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Focus on the thoughts coming to the mind as I sit. Look for thoughts that are troubling, difficult, painful. As I examine these thoughts, without judgment or narrative, see how my body responds. Breathe into and out of that part of the body; see how that effects thought, emotion, body.

This is part of Mindfulness - An 8-Week Plan by Mark Williams and Danny Penman, which is more-or-less an accompaniment to the wonderful book co-authored by Williams, The Mindful Way through Depression. It’s an 8-week training course in mindfulness, which is to say spending a few minutes each day for two months learning to be present, awake, and aware in my life as it is happening.

Not later, when I blog or facebook about it.

The problem with this particular meditation: my mind is a blank. It was a blank last week in the meditation aimed at examining whatever thoughts appear in the mind as I sit and the emotions that might accompany them. It bothered me that, for as crazy-rabid-monkey as my brain can often be, when the directions are to “watch your thoughts” – well, I got nothing.

How can I not have a damn thought at all?

Obviously, thinking that I don’t have thoughts to think is a thought. Then, last night, it dawned on me why I seem to not have thoughts nor any emotional reactions during the meditation: There is something broken in my emotional make-up. 

Which might strike those who have seen me in person, in public, as very odd. I am probably thought of as over-emotional by many. (Were you at the March 2018 Mult Dems Central Committee meeting? Talking to that jerk next door a few nights ago?) But those are superficial, facile emotions: anger within the moment, fear of a circumstance, happiness from an event, etc. Those are also emotions that have me, so to speak; I have little if any control over them. (I’m not bragging.)

It’s not that I’m not feeling anything during the meditation; it’s that what I’m feeling is the dullness of emotions switched to the Off position. I don’t understand it very well at this point; it’s a new idea and will take a while to explore. But I’m familiar with it in certain ways, especially the way I can sit down to write something and suddenly, nothing.

But it is something. It’s this dull dreary space between my desire and my ability in that moment. It’s like a thick, impassible wall of grey felt, if you can picture such a thing. It is not a permanent feature of mental-emotion landscape; there are times when I find myself closer to my thoughts and emotions. But at this point in my life, those times are random. I can’t live with my muse, not to mention my mind, making random appearances.

I don’t want a random muse. I can’t survive being walled-off from the most important part of my self. I need to be alive and fully functional here and now, wherevever and whenever here-and-now is.

T.A. Barnhart