In addition to adding new, positive habits, I am working to revise or replace some that…aren’t so good. One of my detrimental habits is perseveration, the tendency to mentally rehash things again and again and again. (And again.) Like any other habit, perseveration has triggers–environmental or emotion cues that set the process in motion. For me, one of those cues is guided meditation.

There are many forms of guided meditation; for example, a leader guides participants through a scenario that’s meant to help them relax and focus. My first acquaintance with this method was way back in college, when I was a music education major focusing on vocal and choral music. Getting rid of physical tension is an important part of vocal technique, so my voice teacher at the time, Alexander Stephenson, would have a bunch of us lie down in the lucky-jellostudio while we focused on relaxing from head to toe, one body part at a time. After a few of these sessions, he had the students take turns leading the meditation.  When my turn came, I was fine until I got to the kneecaps. At a loss for words to describe the feeling of relaxed suspension, I suggested envisioning them as floating like…like… grapes in Jello.

I still cringe when I remember this. Just typing the words is painful. “Grapes in jello” is not only a  dreadful metaphor, it’s also appalling from a culinary standpoint.  And every time I try to do a guided meditation, a sadistic little Greek chorus in the back of my mind starts chanting “Grapes in Jello.”

Trigger activated…

…and suddenly I’m flooded with memories of the stupid things I’ve done and said over the past few decades.  And as it happens, I have an excellent memory, having started an a very early age to develop it by memorizing poetry, song lyrics, corny jokes, vast swaths of Biblical verses, and just about every stupid thing I’ve ever done and said.

This, as you might well expect, is not conducive to meditation.

So guided meditation is straight out for me.  I’m still experimenting with various approaches. Next up:  Chakra Meditation!