by Annette Dashofy
I confess…I am not a huge Ellen DeGeneres fan. Never have been. I guess I just don’t get that hip sense of humor. I never really liked Seinfeld, either. Yes, I am the one person on the planet who didn’t love that show. Sorry.
However, the new commercial for a credit card company (that I shall not name) that features Ellen meditating about socks cracks me up. But probably not for the same reason that it amuses everyone else.
In case you’ve missed it, Ellen sits to meditate, tells herself to clear her mind, announces to herself that her mind is clear and then promptly starts contemplating the socks she got double charged for.
Let me say, it’s probably the most accurate representation of meditation I’ve seen on television.
Here’s what happens when you sit to meditate. You believe that the point is to stop thinking, so you tell yourself to clear the mind. That’s your first mistake. In reality, you can’t make yourself stop thinking. Nope, uh-uh, can’t be done. Spinning out thought is what the mind does and it rebels if you tell it to stop. But everyone, like Ellen, tells the mind to shut up.
So what’s the point in meditating you ask? Aren’t you supposed to clear the mind?
YES. But the trick is to distract the mind. Buddhists sometimes refer to it as the Monkey Mind. Running around like crazy, in a million different directions. You can’t contain it. But you can train it to do something else. Like focus on the breath or a mantra. When the mind has something to do that keeps it focused on something other than your thoughts, it can become quiet. You let it happen, rather than make it happen.
Then, like Ellen, you say “my mind is clear.” Which it isn’t if you’re THINKING about it being clear! That’s what makes that commercial so funny to those of us who meditate! That really happens ALL THE TIME. But if you’re practicing meditation, as soon as you notice that you’ve slipped back to thinking, you bring your mind back to the breath or the mantra.
Well, that’s what you’re supposed to do. In reality, all too often you start thinking about socks. And one thought leads to another. Just like in the commercial.
It’s even tougher when you’re a mystery writer trying to meditate. The thing is, meditation is wonderful for the creative flow. If you can reach that state of inner calm and mental stillness, all the crap is stripped away and the solutions to all your plot problems appear from nowhere.
But you’re not supposed to let yourself go there. You’re supposed to let go, come back to the breath or the mantra when what you want to do is get up and grab a notepad. Jot that down quick before you forget it!!!
Perfect lines of dialogue appear out of ether when I meditate. But my meditation teachers frown upon keeping paper and pencil at my side to capture those exquisite bits of description before they evaporate back from whence they came. Handheld records are taboo, too.
I guess if you’re going to combine meditation with mystery writing, you’d better develop a really good memory.
Those socks were Argyle, you know.