Health And Wellness

Meditation For Type-A, Perfectionist, Multitasking Lunatics

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man with flower for a head

My husband recently asked me if I meditate. The short answer is no. One time I read an article in The New Yorker about this meditation guru who created an app called Headspace that has apparently taken over Silicon Valley. I downloaded the app immediately, ready to transcend.

I thought maybe I'd get a quick meditation in while my 18-month-old played on the ground at my feet. Within 15 seconds he had grabbed my phone, turned on Siri, and began laughing uncontrollably when she said "I didn't quite get that." So, no.

I'm not going to say my husband was dropping a hint but I'm also not going to not say that. I could certainly use a bit of time to myself to clear my head, increase productivity and improve my sleep. So I took Headspace off iCloud and decided to give it another shot.

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Here is what meditation for type-A, perfectionist, multitasking lunatics is like:

Has it been a success? Well, here's a typical session:

Take a few moments to get yourself comfortable. Yes, I like the way this sounds. I can get comfortable... I can't get comfortable. My butt hurts.

Start taking some nice deep breaths, in through the nose and out through the mouth. I'm NAILING this. I'm so good at this. In. Out. Breathing... Still breathing. Um, still breathing here. For the love of all that is holy, is this working? That's easily four, or five breaths. Maybe I'll just check my phone to see if it's-

Now, gently close your eyes. Oh, there he is. Wait, eyes were supposed to be open? Crap, I've already messed up.

Start to notice a few sounds now. Well, that's fortunate, because the kids are stomping around like they're crushing grapes and the cat is scratching at the door. I've got to get the cat to the vet. And kids need a dentist appointment. I have to remember that. Should I stop this so I can write it down? No, I can remember. Vet. Dentist. Vet. Dentist.

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The moment you notice your mind has wandered, gently guide your attention back. Whoops. Right, I'm breathing. I'm breathing. I'm so relaxed. So at one. Sooo at one. My breaths are like waves in the ocean. Did I sign the kids up for swimming lessons? I feel like I meant to but then got distracted. Wait. Breathing. Ocean. I've got to start thinking about summer camps, too. So vet, dentist, swimming, camps. Vet, dentist...

Notice the general feelings or sensations in the body. Who said that? Oh right, I'm meditating. The general feeling is of peace. Of relaxation. Of my butt freakin' hurting. Can I do this lying down? What is up with my inability to sit down for more than three minutes? Maybe I should see a doctor about it. It doesn't seem normal.

Start to scan your body from head to toe, looking for areas of comfort and discomfort. OK, let's see. Head, fine. Neck, good. Back, tight. Butt, hurts. Feet, cold. Done. Uh, done? What's up with this long silence? Was I supposed to scan slower? I'm messing this up again. Well, now there's no way I'll have time to do another scan on top of my first scan, so I guess I'll just wait for him to talk again. Vet, dentist. Uh, camps. What was the other thing? I should have written it down. Are you allowed to pause?

Concentrate on where your breathing is coming from. Oh good, there he is. OK, from here on out I'm going to really concentrate on just breathing. I'm breathing. I'm breeeaaathing. The cat is scraaatching. Maybe I should get up and open the door. But then I'd probably have to start over. And I don't want to erase all this hard work I've been doing.

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Start to count the breaths, up to ten, and then start over again. One. Two. Three. Swimming lessons! That's what it was. Where was I. Eight? Let's go with that. Nine. Ten. A big fat hen. What a weird song. They're all commands and then all of a sudden, a big fat hen. What about it? Feed it? Eat it?  I wonder why that song has stuck around through the generations but others haven't. I lost count again. Eleven. Twelve. Oh wait, I think I'm supposed to start over at one. Ugh, I'm so awful at this.

Be kind to yourself. If your mind wanders, just gently bring the attention back again. Not only am I awful at this, but I'm even more awful because I said I was awful. OK, I'm ready now. I'm breathing. In. Out. No, wait. One. Two.

Now let your mind do whatever your mind wants to do. ...I've got nothing. My mind is blank.

Bring your awareness back to your body and open your eyes. Congratulations, you're done! I feel better already. Let's get that productivity rolling now, starting with — what was it? Doctor's appointment? I knew I should have written it down.

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Ali Wilkinson is a lawyer, and writer who has written for The Huffington Post, Scary Mommy, Elephant Journal, Mamalode, and more.