Friday, April 4, 2014

Enlightenment and the Whisker




I have a recurring whisker.

As God is my witness, I’ve plucked it out a hundred times with follicle enough to satisfy any forensic scientist on a mission to peg the most heinous of criminals.  And yet…it grows!

Stiff and proud.  Persistent.  Like General MacArthur to my chin, it returns.

And that’s why I couldn’t meditate.

The struggle started simply enough:  Let me just add to my already impressive repertoire of life-affirming practices, I said.  I cannot be satisfied with what some might call remarkable.  No!  Let me transcend the remarkable and rise into the stratosphere of the extraordinary. 

Let me meditate!

Yes!  Let me sit quietly and draw my breath from the ancient oxygen that permeates my soul.  I will inhale with the cosmos.  I will tap the wisdom of the universe!  I will…OK, you get the idea:  I thought I’d try to meditate. 

Following the time-honored rituals of ZenHabits.com, I settled into a straight-backed chair.  I let my hands rest naturally and comfortably in my lap.  Or on top of each other.  Or side by side.  Or on the armrests making that little ‘OK’ sign the truly serene make.

I closed my eyes.

I began breathing deeply and fully.  I focused on my breath and nothing else.

And just as the internet gurus directed me, when a thought came, I acknowledged that thought.  “Hello Thought,” I would say. 



Then, just as the masters do, I let that thought pass.  “Good-bye Sweet Thought!”  And back to concentrating on my breath.

I’m on my way!  I’m meditating!  I feel my third eye opening and enlightenment gathering around me! 

But then…inexplicably…my thumb was drawn to the whisker.  The whisker wanted recognition. 

No worries.  Just acknowledge the thing:  Hello Whisker.

And Good-bye Sweet Whisker…right?

But the Whisker would not go.  It would not be denied.  Like the White Whale, the Whisker tasked me. 

The Whisker sang a siren song.  I couldn’t leave it alone.  Each time I bid it adieu, it returned, calling to my thumb with irresistible determination.  Like Glenn Close in that creepy movie where she stalked Michael Douglas after their escapades in the elevator and he tried to blow her off after their one night stand when his wife was out of town:  My Whisker declared it would not be ignored!

OK.  Mellow!  Mellow!  We’ll just breathe our way through this.  What does PsychCentral.com say about cases like this?  Here we go:  Use an alternate meditation technique: “Being with Sound.” 

Designed for dealing with just such distractions to the process, the novice meditator is directed first to find “really calming music.”  Then, simply focus on the sound of the music and nothing else.  Put all your attention on the sound.

OK, Pandora here we go.  Classical!  That’s it.  No wait!  Nature music!  What could be more soothing or easier to disregard than the tweeting of sparrows and the rustle of leaves?  A piccolo.  Perfect!  Noodling faintly.  Oh yes!  So tranquil.

But the Whisker would not rest.  It would not be displaced by Pan and his flute. 

For a moment, I despaired.

But no!  I will not surrender to a hair!  No errant weed will rule my world!  I am master of my composure!

I dashed to the tweezers, leaned close to the magnifying mirror and snagged the offender.  I uprooted him without ceremony or remorse.  Ha!  Contentment is mine!

Returning to my sacred spot, I settled again.  I closed my eyes and found the dulcet piccolo and the gurgling brook.  Inhale.  Yes.

But wait.  What’s this?  Oh no.  My thumb has returned to the smooth spot where the Whisker once was and where it again will be.

Like the phantom leg of an amputee, the Whisker calls.  It bids my surrender.  Resistance is futile.

Then at last I understood; The Whisker would be my talisman, my only point of focus, my mantra.  Whisker, Whisker, Whisker! 

Oh Great and Powerful Whisker, take me to the empty core of my being so that I can plumb the depths of universal wisdom.

I stroke that place with my thumb knowing the Whisker’s resurrection mirrors the eternal cycle of life, death and re-sprouting-over-night that we all are bound to experience.


At last I am at peace.  Om.