This post by Patrick Varone was originally published on harpersbazaar.com.
You know how everything Oprah tells us to do, we’re required to listen to her by law? Well, similar to her picking the President for us, it’s time you start considering meditating on the regular. Why? Because she she said so. (Now you don’t have to listen to her, but that’s on you if you want to miss out on a free car.) Me, however? Well, I’ve listened and listened good. After reading my articles on BAZAAR.com, you may consider me one of the biggest clowns you know. You’re probably right. But I’m more than just that. I’m calm. I’m cool (eh, maybe not so much). But most of all—I’m zen.
A year ago, while watching Super Soul Sunday on OWN (extremely hung-over and zoned out), I watched Mother Oprah and spiritual leader Marianne Williamson discuss morning meditation. I figured if Oprah built an entire network around this practice for more money than most people in this world combined, I should give it a go. And I must admit it was life-changing. I know what you’re thinking: “He’s drunk-typing this.” On the real, just five minutes of meditation in the morning can really start to change your life for the better. It’s certainly not the easiest thing to start, but since I’m pretty good at closing my eyes and, you know, sitting, I figured tossing in a lit candle and some sounds of ocean waves crashing would make me a sure-fire meditation god.
You know what the hardest part is? Clearing your mind. Literally, try to think of nothing. Go ahead, I’ll give you a second. Ha—made you look! Either way, every morning when I meditate I have a “head fight” with myself over if my palms should be facing up or down on my lap. I typically think they should face up so that I’m more open to the universe and Oprah can place money directly into my hands. And I’m pretty sure that fighting with myself over this is the opposite of what you’re supposed to do while meditating, but if I’m going to pick a fight with myself—I’m going to strike back.
It takes only a few minutes of this head fight until I’m in that totally quiet state…except for the fire engine driving by my apartment with its siren blaring…and the person tap dancing upstairs…and the mother trying to console her screaming baby by walking him up and down our hallway…and my stomach demanding food immediately. So except for all those things, I’m totally in the zone. What typically works for me is every time a thought appears in my mind, I acknowledge it for a moment and then pretend to pop it like a bubble with a long feather so that it disappears. Oh God, did I just admit that out loud? Well it works. While I’m on the kick of admitting things, I’ve signed up for the Oprah & Deepak 21-Day Meditation Challenge every time they do one, which is about 4 times a year. It lasts for about 20 minutes and starts with Oprah saying good morning to you and then basically talking about sitting under her oak trees in her “backyard” (read: all of Hawaii). There’s something about hearing Oprah first thing in the morning that just makes me feel safe and, you know, rich. And her voice during these recordings is so calm and monotone that you totally know it’s killing her to not just start shouting out, “John Travooooolta! Julia Rooooberts!” Truth be told, these are typically the thoughts I’m having while meditating. Hey, but at least I’m laughing as opposed to my typical morning cry.
All jokes aside, starting your day off meditating right when you wake up is the best way to go. Williamson suggests to not check your phone, email, Facebook, read the newspaper, turn on the TV or even have coffee before mediating. After thinking that’s the worst thing my ears have ever heard, I tried that as well. Spoiler Alert: It works. Do you know how many times I grabbed my phone and started checking Facebook before even sitting up in bed? Immediately your mind gets all crazy and you haven’t even moved out of the fetal position. Starting with a little meditation can really set you up to deal with life’s obstacles in a much better frame of mind. Oprah has her office meditate at work twice a day, at 9 am and 5 pm. Apparently a bell goes off and you basically just stop, drop, and roll. Feel free to just close your eyes at your desk during these times and if your boss catches you simply respond with, “Oprah rang the bells.” I’ve tried that once and was sent home so, win/win.
I challenge you all to try meditation. Over time you’ll discover that life isn’t so serious—you’re in a better frame of mind, plus, Oprah is proud of you. My ultimate life goal is, of course, to one day be invited to meditate under Oprah’s oak trees in her backyard and, no, I’m actually not kidding. And, if she wants to feed me sweet potatoes from her garden so be it. In all honesty, I’m not quite sure why everyone doesn’t meditate, why this isn’t taught in schools and why we here in the Western world are so behind the times. Finding that quiet space, being still and finding that voice within will guide you to great things in your life. I’ve been meditating for over a year now and reading countless spiritual books by Marianne Williamson. I put out into the universe that one day I would be able to share my experience with a ton of people. So, for me, it’s no surprise that BAZAAR “randomly” reached out to me to see if I’d be interested in writing an article about meditation. Thanks Oprah! See you under the oak trees.