Meditating at an Indian ashram, ELIZABETH GILBERT struggles to keep it together with no help from her brain.

The following morning, I arrive right on time for the 4:00 a.m. meditation session that always starts the day here. We are meant to sit for an hour in the silence, but I log the minutes as if they were miles—sixty brutal miles that I have to endure. By mile/minute fourteen, my nerves have started to go, my knees are breaking down, and I’m overcome with exasperation. Which is understandable, given that the conversations between me and my mind during meditation generally go something like this:

Me: Okay, we’re going to meditate now. Let’s draw our attention to our breath and focus on the mantra. Om namah Shivaya. Om namah Shiv—

Mind: I can help you out with this you know!

Me: Okay, good, because I need your help. Let’s go. Om namah Shivaya. Om namah Shi

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