In this month’s dispatch from the frontline of chitchat, Lou Conran finds children, trumpets and her own awful brain conspiring to put the kibosh on her adventures in meditation.
Illustration by Claire Jones
I’ve started doing a daily meditation to focus my mind and clear it of the shit that has built up in the “mental self-harming” area of my brain.
Shit like me telling myself I can’t do the things I’ve always wanted to do and how I will never amount to anything because all I own is a disco ball and a pair of hair straighteners. You know, the usual.
Sitting down and “quietening” my mind is one of the single most difficult things I have ever attempted to do (apart from stand-up comedy, which I’m still trying to figure out).
It doesn’t help that the family upstairs clearly hasn’t heard of the word “consideration”.
What with their child constant thundering around, their smoke alarm going off, the scraping of furniture on their wooden floor and someone – and I still have no idea who – playing a trumpet for hours on end, I am going slightly insane.
There’s only so many scales and arpeggios a woman can take on a daily basis (both musically and vocally from that bloody child), and I don’t care who says the theme tune to Jonny Briggs is evocative, you haven’t got it going on for hours on end, have you?
I’m slightly on the verge of killing someone, anyone, so I thought it best to concentrate on meditation before I take it out on the postman, who hasn’t done anything wrong. Yet.
I’ve downloaded a series of meditations from the marvellous Deepak Chopra, featuring a guest appearance from Oprah Winfrey. In my noise-cancelling headphones I sit cross-legged (for a bit, until it hurts) under my slanket while listening to Oprah (she’s totally got the voice for a sex line) and Deepak talk me through a daily affirmation of how wonderful I am.
The idea is that you clear your thoughts, you repeat a mantra given by Deepak, and you relax. If you have any thoughts, you simply bring your attention back to repeating the mantra, silently, in your head. Easy as that.
Cue smoky fade in to my living room….
Earphones on, press play and away we go.
Listen to the music, begin to breathe slowly.
Have hair in face.
Remove hair from face.
Listen to Oprah.
Close eyes. Try to focus.
Remember phone is not on silent.
It is on silent. I knew that. I knew that before I started. I didn’t believe me.
Wonder if the postman can see me through the living room window.
Get up, shut curtains.
Trip over as still attached to headphones that are in turn attached to laptop.
Get cramp in leg.
Decide to lie on sofa as it’s more comfy.
Listen to Deepak.
Bugger. Forgot to book my eye test.
Must remember, to remember, to book eye test.
This is good. I’m making time for myself.
Phone vibrates. It’s probably Harriet.
Or it could be Will.
Might be Becky.
Right, repeat the mantra.
It means, what does it mean, something to do with… I’ve just farted.
Each breath allows me to become more…God, that stinks. What on earth did I eat last night?
I can hear something scratching.
Mice? That’s all I bloody need. Mice, a trumpet and a plague of fuc…relax.
Shreem namma, mah nà mah nà do do do do dooo…that’s the Muppets, stop it.
Shreemmmmmmzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz and I’m gone.
Wake up 40 mins later with dribble down my chin and a crick in my neck.
How? How on earth do people do it? I’ve been to Buddhist meditation classes and I’ve sat for an hour, on the floor, with one eye open, watching every single person in the room completely out of it except me.
On leaving, the chap said, “Be careful how you go, you might experience a brain fug and some mild confusion”. Yeah right, I thought. Nothing new there. And after I got in my car to pooh-pooh his advice, I drove the wrong way down a dual carriageway.
So to conclude: I am determined to keep going with it. My brain can’t be that different to anyone else’s, surely? If it’s about life lessons, this one is clearly about patience and tolerance.
That fucking trumpet!
Lou is a comedian, writer, actor, lover of curry and cheese, and is also a giant simple child.