Mid-morning, Tuesday 8 July 2014.
It was the second morning of the second week of grueling work.
I had only gotten up barely two hours before, but already I was feeling tired from poor sleep.
I wanted to go back to bed and have a short nap…or so I told myself.
I was concerned, though, that I would enjoy going back to bed too much, spend longer than intended there and regret it later, especially if it threw my working day out of whack.
But what to do?
Eventually, I decided to try an old practice that used to work for a while before I quit it.
Maybe it wouldn’t work again…but maybe it would.
What did I have to lose?
So I put on my headphones, found a certain track in iTunes, clicked the play button and closed my eyes.
Long-time readers of Black and Blue Man may recall my series ‘Before Black and Blue Man: The Turning Point’, in which I described my 2002 experience of doing a self-improvement course called The Turning Point.
One of several interesting things I learned during The Turning Point was how to do Transcendental Meditation – especially in my first session.
For about six months after completing The Turning Point, I continued to meditate until I felt that it wasn’t working anymore and stopped in mid-2003.
During the last few months of trying to meditate, one way I had tried to keep it going was to listen to the classic 17.05-minute Iron Butterfly song ‘In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida’ during each session. There were several reasons why – I have always liked the song; it was almost the right length for a session (The Turning Point had recommended 20 minutes); and it blocked out noise from my apartment building.
And for a while, it had worked.
And now, in mid-2014, it was time to try it again.
Or partly try it again. I wouldn’t be fully meditating – for one thing, I didn’t have any mantra in mind – but for the next 17.05 minutes I planned to just sit there with my eyes shut and have only Iron Butterfly and my thoughts for company.
Crucially, though, I would be taking inspiration from Eckhart Tolle. As I have written previously, back in 2008 I didn’t finish reading his book The Power Of Now but what I did read and learn about the power of living in the moment had changed my life forever.
And so there I sat in eyes-closed darkness as ‘In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida’ begun to thud gently through my headphones. I was prepared to do nothing more than experience each of the next 17.05 minutes as they passed one minute at a time in in whatever way they would…
…and I did.
Seconds after ‘In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida’ came to an end, I reluctantly opened my eyes.
Even if I hadn’t fully meditated, I had enjoyed the calmness and serenity of just sitting there for 17.05 minutes in darkness to the sounds of classic 1968 psychedelic rock.
But although it was a shame to have to leave, what I had done worked.
I now felt much better.
And it would give a boost to the rest of my workday.
Two days later, my work situation was still grueling (and getting worse).
But I was dealing with it.
One thing that was helping me to deal with it was looking forward to another 17.05 minutes with Iron Butterfly, if I needed it.
And I did, so once again it was back to the darkness with ‘In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida’.
And once again, it worked.
17.05 minutes later, I once again opened my eyes to find myself feeling revived and alive.
I have one very vivid memory from that session. Early on during the first set of lyrics, I had a striking image of the inside of my head resembling a dark empty cavern, and red and white lights bouncing freely against the cavern’s ceiling.
I have no idea where that image came from or what inspired it, but I wasn’t there for the how or why.
I was there to simply experience it, and it was very pleasant.
By week’s end last night, I would lose 46 mostly strained hours to work.
And there are several more similar weeks – or worse – that lie ahead.
Part of me is not looking forward to it at all.
But another part is telling me not to dwell too much on it. Wait until the strain returns, that part tells me, and deal with it when it does.
And the good thing is, I now have an effective and enjoyable method for doing so.
Until next time, stay well and take care 🙂