HERE’S MY DILEMMA: I really want a new handbag but I have about 15 of them already, piled on a shelf in my closet. Each one has had its day, but now none of them make me happy. My hope is that the next one will fulfill that empty place inside and keep me from eating half a tub of ice cream before dumping the other half down the garbage disposal, but I doubt it. I want, I need, I must have . . . something. Or else why am I so frequently sad, despite having full use of all four limbs and a functioning brain? Why else am I desperately hunting for a new house that will cost a fortune in a city crowded with grasping politicians and violent criminals and road- and artery-clogging traffic when I presently live in a virtual paradise that Henry David Thoreau would envy?
You have likely guessed that what I want, need and must have is peace of mind. Too bad that’s not for sale, certainly not on the Internet which is where you shop when you live in rural Maine. So, always seeking, I am reading yet another book on meditation. This one, aptly titled “Meditation,” claims that it is the only path to inner peace, self-actualization, a calm and quiet and productive mind free of depression, anger and anxiety and a robust body radiating health and energy.
Stressing the importance of having a mantra and repeating it as often as you can, author Eknath Easwaran insists you choose one carefully since you musn’t change it or it won’t work as well. The mantra will totally determine what happens to you and in what direction your spirit turns. Like if you say “Jesus” or “Hail Mary” over and over you will become Catholic in your ideals. No thank you. I’m sort of leaning towards a “Hare Rama, Hare Krishna, Rama Rama, Krishna Krishna” kind of thing since that’s my favorite song by dead Beatle George Harrison, but I worry that by concentrating on it constantly my spirit may become too Liverpudlian.
Honestly, I find the whole meditation thing slightly scary. After all, hanging out in one’s subconscious is not exactly a walk in the park. And I’m not sure I even believe in all of it; how can repeating a word or phrase in my mind make my life better, eliminating all fear and need for Ben and Jerry’s, at the same time opening my heart to give and receive unconditional love? But it’s worth a try since all I’ve got now is an empty bag of tricks, none of which have worked since natural childbirth 27 years ago. That was truly a stupendous experience but it never happened again — God’s choice not mine — and since then it’s been the same old, same old.
Now here’s Easwaran promising that if I follow his “Simple 8-point program for translating spiritual ideals into daily life,” I will feel that same excitement again. Okay, I’m in. I just have to choose my mantra and get started, and soon enough I will be a better person, and who doesn’t want that? “Om mani padme hum” has a nice ring to it, don’t you think? It says that whatever our humble beginnings and whatever mistakes we have made in the past, we can purify our hearts and come to dwell in spiritual illumination. That sounds good to me.
Andrea Rouda blogs at “Call Me Madcap!”*
*In an e-mail, writer Andrea Rouda notified MLB that the name of her blog has been changed to Daily Droid.