Queue meditation

Telluride Daily Planet, Sunday, September 1, 2013

Start with several deep abdominal breaths — in for four, hold for four, out for four — trying not to think of the movie you just saw, the program in your hand, or the line you are in for whatever. This is the movie. You are the star of it. It is a movie about being in a queue and about meditating in one. Only guess what? You don’t have to write any dialogue!

Maybe — given your spotty history with meditation — this will be better in the end, seeing it as a story about a person meditating. You’re brilliant, imagine that. Brilliant at this thing called meditating. What does it feel like? If you play the part with conviction then maybe the part will start to play you. You’ll become authentic by virtue of your runaway imagination. Wouldn’t that be great.

On the other hand, maybe movies make one less authentic. What if they’re movies about meditating though: Wouldn’t that somehow make it more viable?

Let’s see, movies with actual meditation scenes: you are not Forest Whitaker in the mediation scene in “Ghost Dog” and certainly not Julia Roberts in the meditation scene in “Eat, Pray, Love,” not if you are lucky you aren’t. If anything, you’d want it to be as good as that hilarious meditation scene in “Hangover 2” — that is, if this were a comedy, which it’s not.

What it is, is a drama: you, in a movie line, without a companion. Alone. It’s serious. Life is serious. It’s philosophical. There’s duality — or is it dualism. What is that again? There must be movies about it — Swedish ones, or German ones, or shorts. Maybe you’d be more authentic if you saw more philosophical movies.

Are you aware you just sighed, sighed as if it were all so … tiring? Get back into your body right this instant: You’re thinking too much! Stop using words and stop having thought bubbles. I don’t know, the thought bubbles are probably fine if you fill them in with color. Or water. Or light.

Mmmm, yum. You smell coffee go wafting by. Is there such thing as a smelling meditation?

Coffee guy with the nice jacket finds his place in your line next to a woman actually reading a novel as she waits. Don’t make assumptions about how fascinating they probably are. Shakespeare said it: All the world’s a stage. And these actors? Well, are some far more powerful and riveting than others. Oh god, listen to yourself: If you were the kind of person who meditated, you would not be judging people. You would not be comparing people in the line to yourself. It was a thin novel.

Wait a minute, no wonder this is impossible, you forgot to close your eyes! Put on your sunglasses and then close them. Feel the little plastic thing on the bridge of your nose. It’s just you, the sunglasses and your closed eyes: that’s it. And the patchy, unreliable sun that is blazing hot when it wants to be and then pouf, it’s cold out. These mountains are real, no doubt about that. Maybe they are what’s really real.

Was that a raindrop you felt? Because that flimsy plastic orange poncho in your satchel is a last resort, at best. Only 10 minutes until you go in, the perfect amount of time to sneak in some weather-permitting meditation.

So feel the air on your face and breathe: in for four, hold for four — ignoring the woman behind you talking about that movie you wanted to see earlier but couldn’t get into and therefore couldn’t tick off. Good lord. Have you become a ticker offer?

Wait, is that the line moving already? Really?

It is moving! Ahhh. Feels so good to be going in. Surrounded by a sea of people, all moving in the same direction. Feels so good to find a seat and plop yourself in it and just sit there staring at the screen. Feels good to smile once the very last seat is taken and the lights go down and the theater becomes dark and quiet for a few brief moments before the story begins. And wow it feels so good to experience the slow, even rising and falling of your breath now happening so naturally. To relax, to fall into someone else’s story, to allow it to fall into you.

And there in the black, facing the same direction as everybody else, anticipating without really anticipating, your heartbeat finally slows, your mind finally lets things just pass through. Almost as if … you were meditating or something.

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