I am sitting in the middle of the living room floor doing my ‘mindfulness’ meditation. This is a new thing for me. Recently my stress levels have been off the chart. I must have more than a million things to worry about: the condition of the roof struts in the house we are moving in to; where on earth we are going to find builders at such short notice; whether we should be moving at all considering the house is derelict and too close to a major ring road; how on earth I’m going to pack all the boxes with a baby and a toddler needing my constant attention; whether and how and when I should go back to work, whether if I do go back I will be made redundant; whether if I get made redundant I will find another job before we default on the mortgage and lose our home; whether I should start giving the baby pureed food or follow the trendy new ‘baby led weaning’ regime; whether the toddler should go to nursery more, so I can do more work, or less, so I can spend more time with the children.

As if the actual things I have to worry about are not enough, I also like to fret over a selection of state-of-the-world issues which are completely beyond my control. The perilous state of the environment, mainly, but there are others. I realised it was time to take up meditation when I found myself lying awake at four in the morning worrying about the rise of China.

So here I am, kneeling on the rug, trying to focus on my breaths and count to seven. In… and out, in… and out. Unfortunately, because our flat is slightly too small and every room other than the bathroom and kitchen has a sleeping child in it, I am having to do this in the same room as Curly, who is sitting on the sofa behind me watching a very violent-sounding film.

In… and out. In… and out. BOOOOM CRASH PAP-PAP-PAP-PAP. I’m guessing that’s an explosion, followed by a round of machine gun fire. But I will not be deterred. Buddha wouldn’t have been put off by a little background noise. In… and out. In… and out.

“Oooh, ouch.” Curly remarks, as the horrible sound of crunching cartilage fills the room. But that’s fine. I feel so calm, that it really doesn’t matter what he is doing. This is about me, not about anyone else. In… and out. In… and out. 

BOOOOOM CRUNCH. On the other hand, I bet Buddha did not have to put up with this kind of provocation. Wasn’t he sitting under a nice, peaceful tree somewhere when he reached enlightenment? Would he ever have got there under these conditions?

Suddenly there is lots of shouting, and then a man’s voice: “I’M GOING TO FUCK YOUR MOTHER’S ARSE IN HELL!”

This is more than I can take. “For God’s sake can’t I get a minute’s peace in this sodding house?” I stomp out of the room, slamming the door behind me. I think enlightenment is still some way off.

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AuthorAlice O'Keeffe