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Byron Shire
August 3, 2021

Mandy Nolan’s Soap Box: Mandy Does Mindfulness

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Tell anyone you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed and you get the same response: ‘You should try mindfulness’. Shit, I was hoping they’d offer to do my washing, or cook me dinner.

Was the mindfulness trend initiated by Buddhists or by cushion sellers? Mindfulness requires a lot of cross-legged floor-sitting. Seems a bit silly if you have a nice chair. Why can’t I be mindful on the couch? I spent all this time working hard to afford furniture and now I’m sitting on the frigging floor?

The sceptic in me suspects mindfulness is just meditation with better marketing, but that just could be the stain of my toxic unmindful thinking. I suspect ‘mindfulness’ is just a trend kicked off by lazy people who cleverly reframed their indolence into something they called ‘mindful’ so they could not just do nothing, they could make people who actually do something feel like shit because they’re too busy doing something to fit nothing in.

For some time now I’ve had this ‘meditation’ guilt. This sense that I am doing too much, that I should be devoting less time to doing something and more time to actually doing nothing. So I’m on the floor. It took me half an hour to find a spot I liked. You don’t want anyone walking in on you mid-meditate. That’s like being sprung masturbating. It’s awkward, gets you off task and it’s hard to finish up.

So where can I find a bit of the house just for me? I settle on the lounge room between the beanbag and the couch. Can I be spiritual next to the coffee table? Do I have to make an altar? The book said I should. I don’t have any of that faux Buddhist crap from Bunnings so I improvise with a ceramic pear and a Buzz Lightyear doll I found rolled under the TV unit. And a dead cockroach. I feel like that is my homage to impermanence.

I’m on the floor. I’m not comfortable. My cushion is too small or my arse is too big, I haven’t decided yet which. It’s hard to concentrate on my breath when I can’t stop focusing on my crack. I’m only just starting and I’m already focused on the wrong out-breath of air. Perhaps I should trademark Arsefullness.

I try to let the thought go like the creepy dude on the audio meditation is telling me. He keeps telling me to watch my thoughts. And I do, but I’m incredibly visual and I’ve turned arsefullness into something you’d see on South Park. I go back to my meditation. What’s with the voice? Why do people have to use that stupid strangely modulated pseudo-spiritual voice? Are they taught that at meditation school?

‘It’s important when taking people on an inner journey to find an evenly modulated over-spaced vocal tone to patronise the listener into submission.’ It’s so inauthentic. He sounds like a dick. I’m oppositional. I don’t like being told what to do, especially by men with patronising breathy voices and a messianic complex.

The mindfulness man’s voice makes me feel violent. He’s telling me to observe my thoughts from a distance. I imagine suffocating him with my cushion. Now I hear his instructions coming in muffled and faint under the weight of my hands pushing my cushion over his face. He’s telling me to breathe, when ironically he can’t. Am I doing this right? Mindfulness man tells me to notice my breathing and the still point between my breath. Breathe in through the nose for the count of four and out for the count of six. He’s telling me not to strain, just to do my best, just to say in the still place between exhaling and inhaling. Fuck, he’s so controlling. I mean I’ve been dominated by men before but they haven’t told me how to breathe.

I don’t like him. I don’t like his music either. It’s shit. He has just told me to see my thoughts as coloured balloons and to let them go. Let them float away. He’s clearly never held a children’s birthday party. He’s never used that so-called breathe he talks about to blow up a pack of 24 – then collapsed on the verge of emphysema and vertigo, wondering if he’ll ever be able to stand again.

Balloons don’t float away, you meditating nobhead. He should have included ‘Go to party-supply shop, get a helium tank’ in the visualisation because all my thoughts are in the balloons he suggested but they’re on the fucking floor. In the lounge room. Thanks to Dickhead, now I’m meditating in a room being crushed by balloons full of my own disturbed thoughts. He says to be conscious. (Unlike most of his dates. Shit, if I lived with a man who spoke like that I’d pass out.) He wants me to feel the brush of clothing against my skin. He doesn’t know my wardrobe. He’s assuming I wear floaty bamboo. I’m in stitch Levis. My pants are too tight. Great, now I feel fat. A fat fuck on a cushion in a room full of balloons.

I want to relax but the prick won’t shut up. He tells me to be aware of what I can smell. That’s not good for me. I smell everything. I’m an olfactory genius. I have to spend my life trying not to smell stuff. Especially the cat vomit that I cleaned from this carpet a week before. Mindfulness Man tells me to spend some moments simply being. Being aware of all that is around me and in me (oh god, I’m wearing a tampon, must I focus on that too?).

He tells me this is what it is to be mindful. You’re fucking kidding? Me with a cushion wedged up my arse smelling cat vomit being suffocated by balloons full of my toxic thoughts crippled by the pain of too-tight pants? That’s mindfulness? I turn off the meditation and crawl into the kitchen and crack a Cab Sav. Mindlessness is so much more relaxing.

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  1. Ha, Ha! Great column, Mandy. I’m a Mindfulness teacher – teaching Mindfulness to adults and to teachers and kids in local schools. Anyone who has tried meditation or mindfulness has had your experience….well perhaps not exactly.
    I haven’t actually visualised smothering the person guiding the meditation (badly, I should say), but I recognise the urge. Try starting where you are. Take the glass of Cab Sav, savour the aroma, savour the taste, smile, breathe, take another sip, walk to the window and admire the view (gently avoiding obsessing about any rain damage in the garden), take another sip of wine, smile, breathe. Sit down in a comfy chair and keep going as above. And there you go, you’ve made a start!

  2. Dear Mandy,
    but your mind is already full, I don’t understand.
    But that’s got nothing to do with me, personally I can meditate sitting at coffee shops,having a crap, making my kids school lunches, or in front of the Dalai Lama (yes I have) or any of my teachers over the years. Is it in fact just that old devil himself (the mind) telling you that there is some magic to being present when in fact it is the most natural state in the world.
    I’m still surprised in this day and age that people miss this point… the point where you feel something is not right means you are discriminating and missing some of the reality at that time, no big deal, it happens, and the great Mr Buddha was saying this stuff 5000 years ago…. jeez
    The sufis say that if your glass is already full, how can you learn anything new, therein lies the problem…
    however I may also state that learning these things does not make ones life more comfortable, which is what people are actually looking for… No, no, no, it gets harder, more real, more raw, more feeling, so I would in fact advise to choose the chair that you feel already comfortable with because a chair is good to sit on, the throne of god is better by far, but one cannot sit between two chairs…
    your friend Scott


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