I was well into my third therapy session before my therapist brought up Meditation.
“Have you tried Meditation?” she asked. She pressed her pen into her paper, waiting for my reaction.
I sighed. She scribbled.
“Yes,” I said. Because it was true. I had tried. Many times. I’d tried it sitting and standing and lying down. I’d tried it on uncomfortable pillows and comfortable pillows. In jeans and in yoga pants. In a room full of people and by myself.
I’d tried to clear my mind and focus on my breath and Become One With The Universe.
But, my mind always spins and my breath always falters and the Universe absolutely refuses to let me into The Club.
“I find it…difficult.”
“Well,” she said, shifting in her seat. “It’s not meant to be easy.”
I didn’t know what to say to that, so I just folded my hands in my lap. I pressed my thumbs together so hard that the tips went white.
“We could try it together.”
“Yeah.” My voice was high, unconvincing.
“What don’t you like about it?” Pen pressed against paper again, waiting.
“I’m just not very good at it. And my dad and my sister are so good at it. And I always feel like I’m failing.”
She wanted to know more about my dad. I guess that’s a pretty standard therapy subject. Parents, pain, the past. Those are deep wells. The kind of things that make pens run dry and Kleenex boxes empty.
After, she breathed out through her nose and looked at the clock. They always look at the clock. How deep can we go? How far? Then, “It sounds like you have a lot of baggage around the word Meditation. Can you think of another word? Something better for you?”
I tilted my head to the side and scrunched up my mouth in my I-don’t-really-know-what-to-say-so-I’m-going-to-pretend-that-I’m-thinking therapy face.
When I didn’t say anything, she tried again. “What about Mindfulness?”
I let out a breath. “It’s just so…” I pressed my hands into my chest and stared up at the ceiling. “It’s so…capital-M. Like capital-M Meditation and capital-M Mindfulness. They make me think of monks and robes and mantras.”
She laughed. I like it when I make my therapists laugh because I don’t think they’re supposed to. I think they’re taught to nod and press their pens into their paper and look at the clock. Not laugh. Never laugh.
“Okay. What’s a word that would work for you, then?”
She looked at the clock and I looked at the wall. There was a picture of a tree. A willow. Its leaves dipped into the water.
“What about—” I felt my cheeks go hot in the way they always do before I say something true or honest or hard. “Becoming like a tree?”
I could tell she thought that she was getting somewhere. And maybe she was.
“You know,” I said. “Trees bend in the wind and, as far as we know, they don’t sit around and think about their existence. They just exist.” I looked up at the picture of the willow, again. “They’re connected to the Earth and they add to their environments. They’re strong and wise and old.”
My therapist must’ve liked it, because she wrote so much that she had to turn the page.
“How often do you think you could become like a tree?”
“I don’t know. Maybe twice a week?”
“Could you do it on the bus?”
Wheels on the road, hands pressed into fabric, babies crying.
Me: I am a tree.
Snarky Teenager Me: No, you’re not. This is stupid.
Me: Become like a tree.
Snarky Teenager Me: You’re the worst.
Me: I have roots and leaves and birds build nests in my branches.
Snarky Teenager Me: Oh my god.
Me: Would you just get over yourself and BECOME A FREAKING TREE FOR THE LOVE OF GOD.
Okay, so the becoming a tree thing didn’t really work on the bus. Or in bed. Or under an actual tree.
It only worked when I wasn’t trying to be a tree at all.
Tonight, I brought my book down to the river and tried to read. But, I couldn’t focus on the words. There were too many sounds around me. The night was so full that I put down my book, folded my hands in my lap, and listened.
Birds wings. Quiet footsteps and crunching gravel. The smell of the sidewalk right after the rain. The colour of the sky right after the sunset. My heart, jumping beneath my ribs like a stone skipping across the water. The susurrus of the summer wind moving through the trees.