Up until recently, I hadn’t realised how easy it is to find distraction. You can distract yourself in every single situation in life. Supermarket queue? Get the smart phone out. Waiting at the traffic light? Quickly sending a text message. Waiting for a friend at a café? People-watching!
In this world, you’re never really forced to do nothing.
Or that’s what I thought – until my first acupuncture appointment. She inserted the needles, placed an emergency bell next to my hand, and said:
“I’ll be back in 25 minutes.”
And she left.
She left me there, lying on the treatment table, face down, unable to move (there were needles in my back, after all). All I could see was the floor circle visible through the tiny head opening.
25 minutes is a long time when you’re not prepared. And I was not prepared to do nothing.
I decided to just breathe. Surely I was able to focus on my breath for 25 minutes?! Well, the answer is: no. I obsessed about the needles, the one thing I had promised to myself not to think about.
It was mentally exhausting. I kept on wondering how much time had passed. By now it must have been more than half?
Oh, that’s an interesting floor colour. The towels feel very soft. I wonder which laundry powder they use. How many needles did she insert?
Then I tried to remember to breathe. Easy, you can do it, Andrea. Other people manage.
Time crawled. Nothing moved. Nothing changed. No clock in the room.
Eventually, she opened the door.
“How are you?”
Oh, her sweet voice.
“I feel terrible. I feel stressed. I feel mentally fatigued. I won’t ever come back.”
No, I didn’t say that.
“Oh, thank you. Is the time up already? That was so relaxing.”
And you know what? I’ve just had my fourth appointment. It’s been a steep learning curve – but now I really mean it.