After my children grew up (way too quickly) and moved on to make the world a better place, I started a morning ritual of brewing a pot of coffee and reading the newspaper. Over the years, I’ve evolved so now I insert an instant pod of coffee into my coffeemaker and read online sources. That way I can get depressed so much faster.
Lately the news makes me feel mad, agitated, and helpless. Children are beheaded in the name of religion? Neighborhood stores are looted to avenge a shooting? The Ebola virus will kill us soon? And, another tragedy reported this morning: the Aspen trees are dying across the West.
Every now and then a positive story flutters across the news like a cookie crumb. I grab it and wish for the whole cookie. But that brings another item about health issues and how we’re all going to die of obesity, unless we get Ebola first or walk into a convenience store and get shot. I’m considering exchanging my morning coffee for a Bloody Mary. Or two.
So, I switched from the news to my favorite blogs. I knew my midlife friends could add some perspective and wit to brighten my mood, but I got immersed in the Mommy Bloggers. They’re funny and edgy, but sometimes I cringe at their victimhood, and I want to retort, “Buck up, Sisters, and cuddle that screaming toddler before he packs his bag and moves out.” I’d like to remind them that they will live longer without their children than with them. And soon those perky boobs will be swinging down at their bulging waist and their tight necks will resemble a dryer hose.
My daughter knows I’m addicted to the morning news, so she gently suggested I try a morning meditation. Though I grew up during the Age of Aquarius, I chose to avoid the hippie movement and selected the path of college degree and full-time job. That decision proved to be correct and enabled my children to have new clothes and orthodontic treatments. Being still to meditate seemed like new-age silliness, and everyone knows I can’t sit quietly. Oh look, there’s a squirrel!
But today, after becoming enraged at the photo taken by a proud father of his 7-year-old son holding a man’s severed head, I shut down the news feed and enrolled in a three-week meditation course led by Deepak Chopra and Oprah. I was skeptical at first, especially when told to be still and silently repeat a Sanskrit Mantra “Ananda Hum” – I am Bliss. I almost fell asleep, but then the mantra continued to whisper in my brain. I peeked open one eye to make sure no one was watching, then I returned to the mantra. After 15 minutes – a lifetime – I was totally relaxed. I even felt sad when a bell chimed and the mediation was over. Reality set in: It’s Monday. Time to do laundry.
I’ll admit that the meditation was lovely, and I intend to repeat it tomorrow on my patio sitting beneath the little bell I got years ago in Thailand. The bell has been hanging patiently on my arbor, waiting for me to appreciate its simple significance. My goal today is to fret less and seek happiness more. And, I intend to pray for peace and to buy some Aspen trees to plant.