‘Jai Guru Deva Om’

Phil needed to calm the fuck down. He had just wished a person a lovely weekend despite it only being Wednesday. No sleep for him tonight. Probably couldn’t stomach dinner after that either. He didn’t know why he kept making these blunders, these boo-boos. “I’m 28 now for christ sakes – need to cut this SHIT out!” He was actually 29. For this mistake he punched himself square in the face.

After throwing away the bloody tissues it was a time for a mental detox. Transcendental Meditation lessons were available in the health centre directly opposite the overground. £80 for a lesson. It had whispered to Phil for months. He was intrigued by the thought but dismissed himself as being not the kind of person who did such things as meditation or yoga – that was for the “gourmet crowd” as he called them.

He nevertheless signed up that afternoon and booked in a slot. They saw him right away. The fee covered everything, including: a personal tutor giving him a brief history of the technique, a rundown of its benefits (reduces stress, lowers blood pressure, increases sex appeal), as well as some tips for meditating and a mantra. His own personal mantra. This was to be repeated in his head for the entire 20 minute session. Done correctly he would feel a shift in his consciousness pretty quickly.
“You are not to repeat your mantra aloud, nor share this with any friends or fellow practicers,” his tutor instructed with a soothing purr.
“Yes, my lord,” Phil almost said.

* * * * *

Phil dropped his bag, peeled off his socks and sat down. He closed his eyes with his cynicism still rife. “Remember,” said the tutor, “don’t try. If your mind drifts away from the mantra – which it surely will – know that this is natural, and just calmly bring your attention back to the mantra.” The word ‘mantra’ was starting to lose all meaning now. Phil did like the idea of not trying though, he’d been doing that for years.

“Don’t fight the thoughts,” his hushed teacher continued. “Just watch them. Soon you’ll begin to transcend the thoughts, transcend the mind, become entirely at one with all phenomena, at one with the universe…” His voice trailed off. I’m bloody-well transcending! Phil thought. He wasn’t. It was his teacher drifting away from the space for Phil to experience the meditation by himself.

Soon all sorts of oddball visions were flying around his mind. On such close scrutiny, his mind was fucked. He imagined himself swimming with a flock of Anglepoise lamps, which became a troupe of blacked-up Louis Theroux’s dancing inside some midnight garden. He then gave birth to his purple-haired mother and her crayon sisters, before a medley of homosexual fantasies came flooding in.

He repeated the mantra. Soon things calmed. The thoughts slowly faded, then disappeared. His mind, once clouded with discordant images, turned into a clear sky. Vast and empty. He became entirely present. Aware of the pulse in his penis, aware of his existence and how vivid life felt.

God knows how much time had passed. What an incredible feeling! He smiled, felt reborn. He opened his eyes and streams of sun filled the room. All was gone: his stress, his angst, his worries – everything gone: his bag, his shoes, his wallet, his socks – everything was gone. Where the fuck was everything?!

The empty room was even more barren than before. Just himself and a reflection of himself in the mirrored wall searching for his belongings. There wasn’t a single shadow for them to hide in, he needn’t even bother looking. His reflection fell to its knees, and his eyes floated over to the door that lead outside. A yellow post-it note was stuck to the door knob. Phil stood up. The hot sun stung his eyeballs. He walked over to the door with the slap of his bare feet clattering against the polished pine floor. The note read: ‘Lesson One: Don’t Get Attached,’ and his nose began to bleed.