When you’re feeling stuck in your life, sometimes what you need to do is stop, be quiet, and reflect on how everyone else is the problem. That’s why I do meditation retreats, and, while I’m far too humble to admit this to most people, I’m actually pretty good at them. This is your first retreat, right? I can tell because you’re wearing raggedy sweatpants instead of a hemp sarong, like me. Well, these retreats aren’t cheap, so stick with me and I’ll show you how to get the most out of this weekend.
First, have a seat. No, not there. That’s my seat. The golden tassels are a dead giveaway. Yours is over there, by the donation kiosk. Good instincts, though. You gotta want it! Go ahead and set an intention. For example, I like to look at the teacher’s seat and think: One day you will be beneath me. The cushion, that is, not the teacher. OK, let’s talk technique:
When your mind wanders to your breath, gently bring it back to the question of whether or not now is finally a good time to buy Bitcoin. Meditation is about speeding up your mind so that you can cycle through all the bad thoughts really quickly in order to find the good ones. They’re in there! Just keep looking! There’s gold—or better yet, Bitcoin—in your head, you’re just not mining hard enough.
You might notice that you keep returning to the same thought over and over again. That’s great. In general, this practice is about you and no one else, so feel free to keep focusing on emotional problems: yes, you are broken, but it’s probably your parents’ fault. I like to think about the last words I said to my ex and endlessly tweak those parting lines while imagining her reaction. Meditation is a great way to perfect insults and insert them into past arguments.
Aside from scratching old emotional scars until they bleed, you should spend hours on the cushion practicing your satori smile. How will you know you’re getting your money’s worth if you aren’t making the other retreatants jealous of your peace and equanimity? Get your Gautama grin on! Your eyes should be dreamy yet penetrating, like you’re high but the drug could either be weed or an amphetamine. This is not a happy smile. No teeth. Equanimity is about looking calm while someone else is having a hard time. There’s nothing more humiliating after a long day on the cushion than unpretzeling your legs, looking up, and seeing the lamest meditator in the hall—you know, that guy who runs around barefoot and then washes his feet in the sink where we brush our teeth—flashing you a better Buddha face.
If you’re having trouble, it helps to repeatedly steal glances at the most attractive person at the retreat (there’s always one—no, it’s not you) and then picture them naked. Interestingly, this method also works when applied to the least attractive person at the retreat. Some people might call this “creepy,” but I call it tantra. You can read more about this in my self-published book How Can It Be Sarong When It Feels So Right?
When not grinning at everyone, it’s good to maintain an attitude of cynical distance from your peers, the practice leaders, and meditation itself. This will endear you to the teacher, with whom you should occasionally break noble silence so you can call her “the Big Karuna!” Generally speaking, teachers love it when you focus on them and their shortcomings instead of your own practice. These are always the students they single out for promotions in their dharma talks. This moment is inevitable, and you need to prepare for it. Picture it: the teacher removes her glasses, dabs her tears, mouths Thank you as she steps off her elevated and embroidered and obviously-way-more-comfortable-than-yours cushion and motions for you to Please, take my seat, I’ve simply been keeping it warm for you.
Of course, the one time I actually picked up on the teacher’s signals and assumed my rightful place in her seat, she responded with something less than lovingkindness. That’s why I grew this beard and changed my name to Sri Roshi Baba Ganoush. Anyway, I learned enough in the two hours before the cops came and pried the teacher’s cushion from my fingers to hang my own mindfulness shingle. Uh oh, looks like one of the staffers recognizes me. I knew I should have cut off my man-bun, but some attachments run too deep.
Look, I’ve got to go. But, hey, if this retreat doesn’t work for you, swing by my private studio; it’s called FullMind, Inc. I’m a lot pricier than these guys, and if you’re wondering why, well, that’s your first koan, and it’s on the house. No? OK, fine. But you should know, next time I’m meditating, I’m going to think of the perfect insult for you.
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