It's only when you're instructed to clear your mind that you become acutely aware of just how many thoughts you have bouncing around in your brain at once.
I was given such a prompt by a friendly audio recording at the start of a 33-minute meditation
session last week, which took place in the womb-like, cushioned Dome Room at the new Inscape studio in Flatiron. It all sounded simple enough: Breath in through your mouth, out through your nose, and look inward. Yeah, okay.
But when I closed my eyes, my thoughts lit up: "My breath smells like coffee... I think I'm getting a cavity... The jeans I'm wearing are too tight... I should stop eating so many of those chocolate-covered almonds from Prêt à Manger... What time is it?"
I opened one eye and looked at my watch. Not even three minutes had passed. The other meditators were smiling. They looked so peaceful. Would I ever be able to reach that place of calm? Were they even calm, or where they just pretending? I closed my eyes again and tried to focus on my breathing, but in doing so discovered that I'm incapable of even controlling the one thing I've been doing since birth.