How Are You?

Here’s something you might not know about me: I’m always chasing after something new for my ears. My carefully curated Spotify playlists are always being updated, songs rearranged or pulled off the lineup completely to fit my caprice. I leave my YouTube videos on autoplay so I can discover new sounds through a rabbit hole that visits the far corners of the Internet. I have a waterproof speaker for maximum in-shower concert experience, and I binge podcasts during particularly long commutes. I feel uncomfortable in the dead quiet moments, where even a sip of water can sound disruptive. The silence grates on my ears.

Here’s something else: I don’t like to make small talk. A question as ordinary as How are you? frustrates me because I never really slow down to consider how I am feeling on any particular day until this dreaded question appears.  It is ubiquitous and decidedly more terrible for it. I’m riding the train of my life smoothly when this road block slows everything to a stutter; I’m being held momentarily by the train’s dispatcher; I’m apologizing internally for the inconvenience and thanking the other person for their patience as I force out an unauthentic, Good! And you?

fail saturday night live GIF-source.gif

It’s as much of a surprise to you as it is to me that I actually like meditation, a practice asks you everyday, How are you? I admit that I originally got into it with the mentality that it was just another novel aural experience, the next fad on the list after ASMR and ambient noise. In my defense, my gateway into meditation – phone apps like Simple Habit and Whil – made it easy to commodify it.

Meditation does NOT mean stopping your thoughts. It doesn’t even mean letting go of your worries for the rest of your days, because we certainly don’t live in a Hakuna Matata universe where a starving lion would somehow make peace with his prey.

Meditation IS about letting go of your temporal concerns, those constant worries that tug at the frayed corners of your mind as you struggle to move forward. It tells you to take a moment to organize your thoughts into nice boxes with the labels in bold Sharpie, a mental spring cleaning to make space for forward progress in the future.

relax chill GIF by DeStress Monday-source

You don’t even have to set aside much time for it – If you’re a workaholic like me, it takes literally (and I do mean literally) five minutes out of your busy schedule to help you process your day, whether that means regaining focus, relaxing, or reflecting. It’s also important to keep up a semi-regular practice, since thoughts seems to get disorganized with the same relentless intensity that throws everything else in our known world into chaos. For getting started, I think guided meditations work best, like personal trainers do for exercise routines – the narration keeps you on task when your mind starts to wander. Once you get into the swing of things, though, I think meditating with only your own company feels more peaceful, especially since looking at your phone first thing in the morning can be disruptive. It’s just you with your own thoughts and the sounds around you.

I’m a few weeks into meditation, and I definitely feel more attuned with my internal state than before. I acknowledge when I’ve woken up on the wrong side of the bed on some days, and I acknowledge when I feel inexplicably happy on other days. I even acknowledge when my mood changes, like some weird daily timeline with a shifting gradient of color – blue to yellow to something in-between. I’ve finally started listening to myself more.

Next time someone asks me How are you?, I look forward to having an authentic answer.

-Monica

Meditation Resources

www.simplehabit.com for Apple and Android devices

marc.ucla.edu/mindful-meditations

headspace-meditation in the App Store

mindfulness-everyday-guided-meditations in the App Store

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