Everything about this is a shitshow. Wretched little community hall: shitshow. Fluffy-haired, thick-necklace teacher: shitshow. Me in jogging bottoms: shitshow.
There are tumbleweed lumps of granny-dust resting against the skirting board in the corner, handwritten posters for Bridge club and conversational French on the wall. The teacher has placed weapons-grade incense sticks in the corner too, which, incidentally, is where I chose to flap out my stupid little mat. Because I panicked. Because I am moronic. And now I have a migraine coming on. Shitshow, shitshow, shitshow.
The teacher makes us lie down and close our eyes. I picture Jolie, telling me to come, saying what’s the harm in trying and I think you’d get something out of it and Tim goes every week now. I picture Jolie smouldering at the tip of a giant flaming incense stick, smoking heartily and then detonating, the crystals she carries in her pockets shrapnel, zooming off into the outer blackness.
I open my eyes to check if I’m doing it right so far. The teacher is walking towards a black plastic stereo with obscene deliberateness. She kneels carefully, symmetrically; green leggings supple like young skin, arse like a pair of grapes. She presses a button on top of the machine.
Piano music begins. The teacher looks at me watching, smiles the way a nursery teacher would, looks away, floats across the hall. That’s it, she says. Close down the eyes. Relax the eye sockets.
I close my eyes again and attempt to close my ears.
We’re going to start with a body scan, so you can check in with where you’re at today and really arrive on the mat, present.
I am on the mat. She can see that I am on the shitting mat, at present.
Now, let’s take the awareness to the very tip of the crown. How does the scalp feel? Relax the scalp, relax the skull.
I visualise my pink scalp, hairless and fleshy. Disgusting. My brain is clenching in on itself. Relax the skull is the most inane instruction I have ever received. I will tell Jolie this later. Jolie has it coming.
That’s good. Tune into the breath, deepen the breath. Bring the awareness to the forehead. Relax the eyebrows.
My forehead is pulsing and tight. This morning in the mirror it looked like pork scored ready for roasting. The piano music has sickly strings now too, and the incense is thick in my nose. I should try to relax. This place is the pits.
Become aware of the jaw. Unclench the mouth, relax the tongue, relax the lips.
I visualise my jowls and my sausage lips. At Marlborough, that’s what Holmes would call me. Sausage lips. Once I saw it I could never unsee it. If I fall asleep here I will snore like a hog and people will look over and see my sausage lips and my jowls hanging off my jawbone towards the floor. Why this stupid music? It’ll send me off. That’ll be her fault. Floaty bitch. Pathetic.
Take the attention to the neck. Relax the muscles, relax the spine. Feel the breath transiting through, into your lungs. Take note of that sensation.
My neck. My neck where my father used to grip me, muscle me against the wall, scream into my face.
Now, become aware of the chest, the ribs, the heart space. We’re going to pause here. I want you to send a kind message to yourself. Maybe wish yourself peace, maybe tell yourself you are loved, maybe just place your hands over your heart and remind yourself you are safe.
I’ll throw up if I stay. I mean that.
I roll to all fours like an infant. Out I go, out through the sad little rattling doors, out to the car.
I start the engine, rev it comfortingly. So long, lunatics. See you never.