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Milam’s Musings, milambc@miamioh.edu

Negative thoughts are the plaque of the brain. It’s like trying to navigate a dark road while rain droplets populate  the windshield with you unable to wipe them off.

But you keep driving and we call this life; we call this a “living.”

Someone walking past you on the street may see a smiling face and a pep-in-the-step, but behind the mask, you’re squirming with the leeches of negativity.

I’m not immune to this plaque, either. Sure, I’ve used this space before to talk about maintaining optimism in a world whose momentum propels one toward cynicism. No, I haven’t altered course on that, but life ain’t always slurping on rainbows.

To be honest, which is what “spilling ink” is about, I can maintain optimism when it comes to politics, social issues and the world more broadly. I can be that wood panel in the Atlantic ocean buoying Rose, but when it comes to myself, there’s not enough room. I’m Jack, sinking to the bottom.

When it comes to the world, I can quantify my assertions. I can point to the declining crime rate, for instance. What Nate Silver-like statistical breakdown can explain the madness in one’s head, though?

On my worst days, I dig deep into the folds of insecurity, devour some cut-to-the-bone poetry from Poe and ache along to whatever melancholy tune anchors the headphones to my ears. Oh and pizza. Shakespeare said it’s the comfort food of the jesters. Don’t Google that.

Music and writing are usually good outlets, but echoing in the distance remains that throbbing pingback of negativity you’re unwilling to face. You know the familiar potholes in the day’s events: misjudgments, mistakes, wrong things said, regrets, whatever.

And you know what, I’m gonna throw a slice of the blame at winter, too. It’s much easier to hunker down into the folds of that insecurity, literally, when the air outside is enough to turn my ginger locks into slush. But I digress.

It doesn’t have to be this way. I was recently listening to the new NPR podcast, Invisibilia, the Latin name for “all the invisible things.” They talked about a new wave of cognitive behavioral therapy that sounded a whole lot like meditation to me.

For a long time, I’ve flirted with the idea of meditation, as it sounded appealing, a way of traversing those “invisible things” dancing on our firing synapses. But I never took the plunge.

However, a friend told me about Headspace, an app for meditation. Andy Puddicombe, a former Buddhist monk, created and narrates the ten minute sessions.

I’m not here to advertise his “product,” find whatever works for you, but I found it to be quite the revelation. His British accent, a dark room and headphones truly does get you into a “headspace.”

Everything else washes away and at least for ten minutes, you’re free in the truest sense the modern vernacular can arrive at. It’s as if you can feel the pressure literally lifting from your body.

Perhaps best of all, it segued nicely into the best night of sleep I’ve had in some time.

Granted, I’ve merely done two sessions and for all I know, my whimsical nature leads me to abandons this newfound “secular meditation,” as Puddicombe calls it, or maybe it becomes my “thing.”

In either case, I implore people to find some pathway, whether its meditation or another outlet, to clear away those negative vibes which act to ensnare you every day.

 

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