THE LONGER ONE LIVES, the greater one’s wisdom. This is sad since many people die so young. Imagine how smart the world would be if our leaders lived longer, or if old people were given a shred of the respect they deserve. Instead, when someone like Bernie Sanders decides to run for office, the cry goes out, “He’s too old!” Maybe he’s smart, but so what; youth is everything in these superficial times.
But that’s not what I’m talking about. Wisdom is. I am getting to the point where some of the things I deemed boring or silly when I was younger, busy earning a living, listening to acid rock and smoking pot, have become the crutches I use to support my crumbling interior. Prayer, meditation, yoga and that silly “Om” chant are effective tools for dispelling bad moods and extinguishing fear, both common situations we all experience every day and which are the root cause of every addiction: overeating, smoking, drugs, alcoholism, anxiety and depression. I include depression because I think it is addictive: the more depressed we allow ourselves to be the more depressed we become, deepening those ruts in our brains. And everyone knows, getting stuck in a rut is bad. You’ve got to work really hard to get out, and sometimes you might need to call for help.
Early this morning, feeling that tightening in my head that signals anxiety, I listened to a guided meditation on my cell phone by a psychologist and teacher of Western Buddhist practices named Tara Brach, whose podcasts are available for that very purpose. Sitting quietly, eyes closed, feeling safe, breathing in and out: Now that’s a good time! She even got me to put my palms together and say “Om,” along with the hundreds of people who were there with her in person.
Om has its own Wikipedia page, but roughly it means “the totality of sound, existence and consciousness.” Saying it aloud felt good. Much better in fact than hearing the bleak news of the day delivered by those silly morning news teams. I think I’ll try it again tomorrow.
Andrea Rouda blogs at The Daily Droid.