The legendary Dotty LaFou returns, this time with some sage advice on how to survive this very stressful modern existence. Well, sort of.
Hello my darlings,
In recent weeks my inbox has been flooded with literally hundreds of requests for advice on dealing with stress in our busy lives. Stress can have a serious impact on your health and we don’t want it hanging around like a bad smell. As you know, it’s my life’s work to try to bring comfort to troubled souls, so I’m going to tell you a little something about meditation. Read on and be inspired.
Meditation—om and all that transcontinental philosophy (that just means it’s international)—it’s a very worthwhile exercise and can help you wipe away the cares of a stressful day. But how do you do it? I’m often asked how I remain so calm and collected in spite of the many problems that face me each day. Well, many of these problems are in fact yours, dear readers, rather than my own, but I feel everyone’s angst, I truly do. It’s both a gift and my cross to bear. The only other cross I have is Berenice. She’s my sister-in-law and she can be quite vexing, quite vexing indeed, but om. Deep breath here and banish Berenice from my mind so I can focus on you, all my devoted readers.
Now it may surprise you to discover that I learned my best meditating tips from my teenage nephew Byron. He doesn’t see much of his father Bill Wordsworth because he’s an undercover police officer. (He has the most charming codename: Lonely Cloud. I wonder how they come up with these names, they’re really very inventive and rather poetic when you think about it; it’s a marvel.) Anyway, obviously no one outside his bosses ever knows where he is. It’s been tough on Euphonia being essentially a single mother but she copes rather well and to be honest I think she’s grateful Bill is away all the time. It gives her more freedom to pursue her love of music as part of the Sans Souci Chamber and Palm Court Dance Band. They’re quite the ensemble, you know, with a very eclectic repertoire, playing anything from Für Elise to Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Old Oak Tree. Depending on the time of day, the music can either delight or horrify you.
But before you think I’m going off topic—it’s something of a bad habit of mine I admit, because so many things interest me and I’m like a sponge, eager and willing to soak up new knowledge every day, because where would we be without knowledge and learning–let me assure you that this little aside is relevant. It’s actually Euphonia’s music that led Byron to develop some clever strategies to maintain his inner peace. As soon as she starts plinking away at her banjo, Byron somehow puts himself into a trance-like state. I wouldn’t have believed it had I not seen him do it. I was astonished and immediately craved to know his secret. Well naturally I have a wonderfully close relationship with Byron—not too close because he’s still in the stinky phase of his adolescence and much of his communicating is done via a form of grunting, but he’s a thoughtful boy always willing to help his Aunt Dotty.
Also on The Big Smoke
- Ask Dotty: How do I discuss emotional labour with my partner?
- Ask Dotty: How I can cope with my child’s unwelcome obsessions?
- Ask Dotty: My new girlfriend’s subconscious farting is killing me. What do I do?
- Ask Dotty: Is it ok to ditch your relatives who overreact over celebrities?
Byron told me he turns his mind to chess, a game his father taught him when he was a small boy. Apparently Bill used to be as good as one of the most famous players of all, José Casablanca (I may not have that name exactly right; it could be Capybara or Capidomonte or something like that) and he encouraged Byron to read everything he could on the game. Byron took that advice to heart and whenever he feels stressed he repeats phrases like Qh5# or Bxf3 or Nxe4 and that sort of thing. He finds it relaxing because it takes him away from reality and into a world where everything is black and white. To be honest my lambs, I don’t have a clue what he’s talking about—seriously I do wonder whether he’s pulling my leg sometimes—but I did take away something of value.
The key to meditation is to achieve a state of mindlessness. Yes, it’s all the rage. You do this by finding something that brings you a moment of serenity. I mean you can om all you like but unless it has meaning for you it simply won’t work, so focus on an object or maybe activity (like Byron does with chess) to free you of life’s bugbears. It may be a blank television screen, a sunset or your precious Pomeranian Lady Gaga. She’s so calm she makes me calm too, the little sweetheart. Now concentrate on the thing you’ve chosen until everything else leaves your mind. It may take a little practice but before you know it you’ll be just like me: completely mindless.
You see, it’s very simple, no need to complicate things. So my angels, to relax and achieve a meditative state you must practise the art of mindlessness. No need to thank me, no need at all.
Glad to have been of help. Namaste for now.