Peace on a Bed of Nails

I don't think I meditate correctly. I think there is a standard way to do it, but I have chosen not to. I know that people are crazy about transcendental meditation, and it costs like a thousand dollars or something, but I'm not interested in that. Still, I heard a few years ago that the most effective people in every industry swear by meditation, so I decided to try it for myself, even if I didn't exactly know the right way to meditate.

For awhile, meditating meant lying in bed for 5 to 10 minutes after my alarm went off (somewhere between 5 and 5:30 am) and thinking about my goals for the day. It could also conceivably be considered procrastinating, or embodying the snooze button. Then I discovered the Zenguru Acupressure Mat ( and I was strangely intrigued. Also often called a "Bed of Nails," it could accurately be considered a medieval torture device.

The first time I tried to lay down on this mat, I didn't last a minute. In fact, I was sure I had drawn blood. How could anyone fall asleep on this, as had been claimed in Amazon review after review? The next day, I tried again, and this time was able to last a full 5 minutes. I did this for a few days, and then one day, I lasted 15 minutes until... I fell asleep. I woke up after sleeping for a full 15 minutes.

And that's how things went for a long time. After the gym, lie down--always uncomfortably--listening to music or a podcast for 10-15 minutes, at which time I would fall asleep without warning, and wake again 15 minutes later, without prompting. It was the weirdest thing--it was like my body had been shot with little tranquilizer darts, and then the tranquilizer wore off.

Last year, I interviewed Hal Elrod ("The Miracle Morning"-- he would later write the back cover testimonial for my book), and he swore by an app called Omvana. So I downloaded it, and used it for my meditations. I always listened to something easygoing, like ocean waves.

But this week, I decided to try something I have heard a lot about: "Guided Meditation." Supposedly, this is the proper way of meditating. Stupid move. Some guy was telling me to look up (with my eyes closed) to the top of my head and then look around. Really explore my skull. Suddenly, lying there on my bed of nails, I couldn't get the image out of my mind of Hannibal Lecter feeding one of his victims his own brains like a bowl of spaghetti. Time was passing, and I wasn't feeling at ease and I wasn't falling asleep. Guided meditation was a disaster.

So now I'm back to falling asleep to ocean waves as plastic spikes seem to try to puncture my skin. I can't say that I'm any more effective a human being as a result. I have clearly not developed mental callouses against gruesome images after all these years. But my tolerance for physical pain is apparently on the uptick.