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Sit in my chair. Close my eyes. Breathing in. Breathing out. Breathing in I know I am breathing in. Breathing out I know I am breathing out. Breathing in. Breathing out. In out. In out. Breathing in. Breathing out. In with the good. Out with the bad. Like saving someone from drowning. Water rushing in. Water pouring out. No! Not a good image. Too upsetting. Back to breathing in. Breathing out. Why is it so hard? Beginner’s mind. Try to have a beginner’s mind. Easy as breathing, right? Why is it so hard to stop thinking of everything but breathing? When I think about breathing I feel tense, not relaxed, like I am going to stop breathing. Like someone is going to sit on my chest and stop me from breathing. But that’s not it either. It’s this mind that won’t relax and let go of so many dizzying thoughts. Vertiginous. Yes, I like that word and used it in a poem, but in the end I didn’t like the poem. No wait, this is not the time to think about an unsuccessful poem. Back to breathing. Breathe in. Breathe out. How about an image? Would that help? Maybe a wave. I love waves. A wave lapping the shore. Back and forth. In and out. Like breath. Picture the wave. Hear the wave. The silky susurration of the wave. What a great word. A word Edgar Allen Poe liked. He loved those onomatopoetic words and overdid them at times. Easy to do when you love the sounds of words. But why think of Poe? Not a pleasant thought, such a miserable life, poor guy. No to Poe. Back to the wave. In the summer the wind in the treetops, passing through the leaf canopy sounds like surf, like the waves. OK but think of the actual waves on the beach. The fringe of the wave, that lace frill at the edge and how it seems to melt in the sand. Stop. Too much detail. Meditation is not about details. All right, so forget the wave image . Focus only on your breathing. Only on that. Breathing in I know I am breathing in. Breathing out I know I am breathing out. In. Out. In .Out. In Out. Are we there yet? These past four or five breaths? Was I meditating in those few seconds? Is that all there is? Peggy Lee and that depressing song. My father hated it. Said it was bad for young people to listen to such cynical songs. Wait. Stop. Do not pass go. Do not collect 200 dollars. Go back to your breath. That is what this is all about. The breath. We all breathe until we are dead. It takes no special talents. So there are no special qualifications needed to meditate. I can do this. Anyone can. I breathe. Therefore I am. I can do this. Just have to embrace beginner’s mind. But I hate being a beginner. Always have. It makes me feel stupid, embarrassed by my stupidity. I want to build on my existing skills not struggle to acquire new ones. I know that is stupid and lazy. I am not usually stupid ,but I am often lazy. My mother always said so because I hated to do any housework when I was a kid (and still do). She called me Lady VanAstorBerg, as in “Lady VanAstorBerg, put down that book, get over here, and vacuum the rug.” I hated when she said that, but now when I think about it, I smile because it was kind of a clever insult, incorporating every high class wealthy name she could think of. Wait a minute. This cannot be right. Meditation is not about self -disparagement, though it comes so naturally to me. A kind of defense against any and all, real or imagined ,criticism. Now stop. Meditation is not self analysis. Even I know that. Anyone can meditate if they are patient and really try. Everyone can do this. You can do this. So stop wasting time here on memories and metaphors. Slow down. Breathe in. Breathe out. Breathing in I know I am breathing in. Breathing out I know I am breathing out. No, you are not suffocating! Breathe in. Breathe out. Anyone can do this. But is that really true? Are some people, for any number of reasons, unable to relax enough to meditate? Am I one of the chosen to be unchosen to succeed at this? And why do I keep thinking in terms of success? Well, that is my background, my upbringing, my life history. To focus on success or at least my definition of it. To use my abilities, those gifts given to me by God who expects me to use them wisely and to help others. I have tried to do this ,with some success. But in other areas, especially in my personal life, I have not succeeded so well. I have failed at some things and I regret all the times I did not do enough to solve problems or help others. But again, you have strayed from your focus here. Remember what you are supposed to do? Acknowledge all your thoughts and gently ask them to move on, the way you might give a gentle push to a balloon so that it will drift away (and hopefully not get snagged in a tree). But skip the imagery and its seductive pull on your mind. It is not poetry writing time. It is meditation time. So back to the breath. Breathing in. Breathing out. Oh, forget it! I am so weary of this. I can stop now, surely? Yes, ten minutes have passed. Thank God! I don’t know if I can keep doing this ,but I need to have faith that somehow I will break through the barrier wall (Trump! No! Don’t think of Trump!) of all my self doubt, fear of failure, even of boredom at the whole process because I do believe, I truly believe in the value of meditation. Life is short, but I believe meditation helps one to forget that for a while, or at least it takes away, even if only briefly, the sting about the impermanence of everything.

Deborah Barchi has recently retired from her career as a librarian and now has time to read, explore nature, and write poetry and essays.