The place I teach meditation in San Francisco is above a laundromat, so my students and I get to enjoy the lulling hum of commercial washers and dryers as we meditate. We also see a lot of people struggling under the weight of giant bags of laundry. If you don’t have a washing machine at home, you know what I’m talking about. If you do, I’m certain you can remember the “ugh” of laundry day.
When we have to go somewhere to do our laundry, even if it’s down to the shared machines in the basement of our apartment complex, it tends to pile up. And pile up. And then finally we have to do something about it. It was in an effort to put off the hassle of it all for just one more day that guys invented the “sniff test.”
When we learn to meditate it’s like getting a washing machine because we have this wonderful new tool we can use to easily launder ourselves of the day’s stresses. The little (and sometimes not so little) things that just wear us out: The irrational client or boss, the super-slow cashier, the dog poop on the sidewalk, the kids who refuse to put on their shoes, the driver who cuts us off, insomnia, the _____________ (insert your own daily source of aggravation here).
In the practice I teach, called Vedic meditation, we sit, comfortably, close our eyes, think our mantra and allow our minds to sink away from the choppy surface of life. We get to experience a deeper, quieter state of mind. And we emerge rested, refreshed and clean; a student of mine calls meditation “a shower for my brain.”
But when we don’t have a convenient way to do that things pile up. And the load of that accumulating stress wears us down. It’s why we call Wednesday “hump day.” It’s why the expression TGIF even exists. It’s why people who go on vacation spend the first couple of days “decompressing.”
Imagine how much you might enjoy your vacations — and the rest of your life, for that matter — if you didn’t feel so “compressed” in the first place.
There are lots of different kinds of meditation practices, and you usually have to try a few before you find the one that's going to work for you. Lord knows I did. In the end, they're all effective if you can do them. If you're interested in learning about a simple, ancient technique (developed a couple thousand years before Buddhism) you're welcome to poke around on my website.