On any given morning, I wake up and my mind is already moving faster than my body. I need coffee. Rent is due tomorrow. Crap. I pay a ridiculous amount for an apartment I am never in. Should I move in with my boyfriend? I did that once before and it was terrible. God, my ex was such a jerk. He can’t be alone. He’s probably off jet setting with a 19-year-old again. I love it here in California. I wonder if I’ll stay here forever? God, I have moved a lot. Maybe I will never settle down. I can’t believe that guy once told me I couldn’t be tamed. Maybe he was right. I think I need a career change. I need coffee. I wonder if I’m addicted? I have so much to do today! You get the picture.
My mind turns on this chatter track without even consulting me, and it runs nonstop until long after I lay my head on the pillow at night, finally wearing myself out from thought exhaustion. It causes pain to my human experience. After I moved to California last spring, the chatter started to disturb my peace to a point that I couldn’t stop planning for my future and worrying that I would never live up to the high standards I had set for myself in my career. I really thought once I moved away from New York to live a quieter life that my mind would quiet as well. It’s true what mindfulness meditation teacher Jon Kabat-Zinn says: “Wherever you go, there you are.”
I have always justified all this thinking and planning and creating of future fantasies by telling myself that I just had a lot of ambition to live life to the fullest. I needed to be responsible and make a plan for this person who was me — but better. The problem was that the present me, just as she was, was being neglected. I wanted my mind to stop running wild and dragging my body along with it — at least without first consenting me.
I heard about Vipassana meditation retreats years ago, when my meditation practice consisted of once a week for 30 minutes. Apparently, a Vipassana retreat was…