by Leah Dwyer
I am looking for something new. Some Zen in the current crazy world. Instead, I find a blank Zoom screen.
I sit alone, it seems I am early. Two new Zoom squares appear, Dr. Nancy Reuben M.D., the instructor of Guided Meditation Instruction and Practice, and then a man who appeared as if he’s done this before.
Reuben unmutes herself. “I’ve taught thousands of people in 40 years, from all walks of life, all genders, all ages, levels of health and illness, I’ve even taught people with traumatic brain injury; anyone can meditate.”
A reassuring sentence.
Reuben starts by telling the two of us what we are going to do prior to beginning the meditation. The man and I, turn off our phones, although I later learn a simple switch to “Do Not Disturb” does not silence phone alarms. We close our eyes for about 10 seconds, then Reuben instructs us to become aware of our breathing. After 20 minutes she tells us to keep our eyes closed and just sit for another 10 seconds, then very slowly open our eyes.
Between both dealing with major ADHD and having never done anything that includes stopping my brain from bouncing off the walls, sitting still and thoughtless for 20 minutes is, to put it lightly, terrifying.
I close my eyes and nothing new happens. Just my usual overload of thoughts piling in—What was I going to eat for dinner? I kind of have to use the bathroom. Did I finish all my homework assignments? I allow myself to focus on breathing and let the thoughts pass.
I begin picturing something inflating and deflating with each breath—it looks like one of the blowup guys outside a car dealership. Definitely not the spirit guide I thought I’d be confronted with during my meditation.
We’re done and instructed to open our eyes slowly. As I open mine and look up to the two others, their heads still mostly down, I quickly close my eyes and try again, and then once more. After getting over the embarrassment of being the first one up, it hit me that I had sat, mostly, still for 20 minutes—definitely not the result I predicted.
Reuben says that meditation gives people energy, and for her, a 20-minute session feels like a two-hour nap. Reuben compares meditation to a wagon wheel: the circle in the middle is us as individuals, the spokes are things like our relationships or our work, and the outer circle is God or a spirit, or whatever larger thing is that you connect to.
“It [meditation] provides you with a connection to something bigger than yourself, something that really transcends the day-to-day issues that everyone deals with,” she says.
“If you can do it every day, I feel like you can overtake some stress. It’s not that you’ll never be unhappy, or you’ll never be depressed or anxious again, but you’ll have a tool.”
Meditation Instruction and Practice with Nancy Reuben takes place every Wednesday at 12 p.m. except on the first Wednesday of the month, where she hosts energy healing.