Present Day, March 4th, 2018

As someone with a constantly racing mind, a new found practice of mindfulness has been a welcome place of rest. It is still very much a “practice” for me, and one that I struggle to successfully achieve for as short as a 10 minute period. However, I look forward to it each and every day and feel the calmer for it on the other side. At the same time, it does cause me a significant predicament.

I think we are all wired and prone to have an acute awareness of contrast. For example, severe changes in the weather. The audio launch of a rock concert. A bite into a particularly spicy dish. From level ground to a steep incline during a forest hike. We tune into these things, and they cause a sensory response in our bodies. Be it touch, hearing, taste, or even sight and smell. Contrast is simply a part of how we differentiate and how things are set apart in our minds and feelings.

The practice of mindfulness magnifies a rather extreme contrast in my living environment. I am already rather introverted and silent. I already value solitude and quiet above the average person. And I already struggle with the, at times, lack of appreciation other people might share for these same qualities. Couple that with the “contrast” of mindfulness sessions to regular life…and I can go from a state of peace to set on edge pretty rapidly. I know, totally contrary to the whole purpose of my mindfulness practice.

In fact, just finding a peaceful and alone time or location to engage in as little as a 10-minute meditation can be a challenge on some days.

The company I work for is owned by a Japanese corporation and therefore utilizes many of their workplace ideals. One example is the open workspace. Picture Dunder Mifflin from “The Office”. No cubicle walls. No offices except for the few at the top of the food chain. It is also a bi-lingual environment. Meaning that I am often working at my desk with a full volume conversation taking place over my left shoulder in Japanese, and a full volume conversation taking place over my right in English. Mind you, neither of which involve me or are of any importance to me. This environment makes my lunchtime mindfulness session 1) invaluable and 2) often immediately forgotten upon returning back to work. The contrast can be overwhelming.

This is my predicament. The practice designed to bring me peace can highlight an overall lack of peace. The practice designed to help me with a singularity of focus can highlight an ever run amuck mind. The practice designed to calm my life can often do little more than emphasize a greater lack of calm in my moment to moment existence.

For now, I look forward to my 10 minutes a day. And work on accepting the other 23 hours and 50 minutes in all their chaos.

Sunday, August 28th, 3 p.m.

They call it the “Meditation Room”. Or the Quiet Room. Or some were referring to it as the Comfort Room. I don’t like to be comforted.

One of the touted highlights of the room is a weighted blanket. Apparently, a blanket that when you wrap it around you, feels like you are being hugged. I don’t like hugs.

However, just three full days in and I am getting the feeling from my head nurse that they realize both of these dislikes in my life, and are not about to let me out of here until I enter the unknown that is this room.

So, being as it is Sunday. Being as our agenda today is very light. Being as I am considerably bored. And being as I do enjoy quiet which there is very little of today with the poor folks who struggle with psychotic episodes wandering the halls…I’m going to give it a shot.

Upon entering the room there are a few things that immediately catch my eye (a rather odd cliché use of the singular, don’t you think?). First, there is a massive flat screen on one of the main walls. I could really use this thing for football or hockey games! It is playing some nature scene. A quick grab and scan with the remote reveals that I have some choices of location and season. The background sound is a mix of nature white noise with a Yanni vibe of New Age composition providing an admittedly soothing effect when brought down to a subtle level. I’m a big fan of winter and it is a roasting late end to summer, so I naturally go with the winter season in some Alaskaeske (yeah, I made that up) like setting.

I also notice a couch and a few rather comfortable looking chairs. Mind you, I’m in a psych ward of a hospital. Comfortable chairs are hardly the norm. Hard plastic is more like it throughout the ward, and wooden in my room. These are padded recliners. Chairs one could actually fall asleep in (as I will soon discover!). The couch is also of a more overstuffed and out of the setting piece of furniture that looks very restful.

The lighting in the room is a bit more subtle than the rest of the hospital floor that has become my home. There are a few blankets and stuffed animals on the couch which lends at least some creepy factor to the isolation that one discovers in this room. By way of reminder, I have hardly been left alone for minutes since arriving here, including regular bed checks during the night. There are cameras in even this room, but they are of an almost hidden security nature so this feels like being alone for the first time in days. All of which means I don’t need this moment to be filled with mini-bears staring at me. I place them on one end of the couch, grab one of the blankets, and cover them up.

Now, into a recliner. But first, I grab this infamous “weighted blanket”. It is actually quite heavy and I find it very hard to imagine it having any comfort level at all. For kicks, I wrap it around myself, and wouldn’t you know it…it really does have the feel of someone wrapping their arms around you and giving you a big hug. Probably a rather soothing experience for some of the people staying here. For me…eh.

With that said, I decide to hit a recliner, pop up the foot rest, lay the blanket over the top of me, and breath deeply as I watch the nature scenes pass by on the big screen in front of me. I figure I will appease the parties that be by staying in here for 10 or 15 minutes. Then I can say I gave it the ol’ college try and be off the hook.

…an hour later there is a knock at the door which awakens me from a deep sleep.

Well…that worked.