My son is so disciplined about his daily weightlifting. I decided to get disciplined about something myself — anything.

I picked meditating. I went back to it twice a day, 20 minutes at a time.

Most of my meditations are monkey-mind bullshit — just incessant mental chatter, various everyday worries colliding with each other.

Some sessions are frustrating. Time drags. I feel uncomfortable kneeling. Mosquitos annoy me.

Other times, the session is easy. Twenty minutes feels like five minutes.

Even just the last few days of meditating seem to have improved my mood and reduced my need for naps.

I also paused — for the first time in 51 years of life — and actually took the time to watch a spider spin an entire web. That was mind-boggling, and cool.

Randomly, two new visualization exercises occurred to me during recent meditations.

In one, I’m on a mountainside in Montana, Alaska, maybe Canada. I’m slowly, methodically, tossing one rock after another down into a cold, rushing river far below me. I’m throwing lefthanded. The rocks are slightly smaller than a baseball.

Each rock represents a specific worry, fear, desire, plan for the future  — a thought of any kind.

As I toss the rock, I’m releasing that one thought back to the universe, to the river down below.

I’ve never really been able to visualize or conceptualize God. In this visualization, I don’t need to. The river represents God, or a higher power, or whatever else you want to call it. Or maybe the river just represents nature, and I’m releasing my hopes, plans, dreams, worries, and sadness back into nature. That’s fine too. The important part is, I’m discarding, letting go.

My second visualization is more odd.

Sometimes when I am stressed out or preoccupied, I feel the discomfort in my body as a gentle, but persistent squeeze around my heart, almost as if a small octopus had crawled out of the ocean and settled on my heart. The octopus gives a slight, but steady squeeze.

In the visualization, I give the octopus a small dose of MDMA and then gently release him back into the cold waters of coastal Maine.

The idea came from a news story I once read about the effects of MDMA on octopi. Basically researchers discovered that octopi — normally antisocial creatures — get friendly and cuddly when MDMA is administered.

I’m not sure it’s ethical to take creatures out of nature or to raise them in capitivity, let alone to dose them with Ecstasy. But what’s done is done. These octopi were already dosed. All I did was read about it.

Further, this is just a visualization exercise. I don’t have any actual MDMA, nor an actual octopus on my heart. I’m giving imagined MDMA to this one particular, imagined octopus who keeps showing up, once or twice a day, to squeeze my heart.

Maybe if I would stop giving MDMA to the octopus, he would stop visiting me.

Maybe I should start weaning him to smaller doses and then cut him off altogether.

Or maybe if I would soften my heart and not be so judgmental about myself and others — so fixed in my view of the world — then there would be no rocky spot for him to surround and squeeze in the first place.

If the octopus started discovering each day that: 1) I’m fresh out of virtual MDMA, and 2) my heart is no longer hard or closed, then maybe he’d quit visiting. He could go score his virtual MDMA elsewhere, or learn to get along better in his undersea world without drugs.

Feel free to try either of these visualizations yourself.

It’s a moment of particular relief when your hand dips into the cold water and releases a smallish octopus back toward his home, which is far below — and behind — your slow-moving boat.

At least for a few minutes, you feel the difference. There’s no heart-squeeze.

About Kit Troyer

Kit Troyer lives in Los Angeles. He worked previously as a newspaper reporter and a criminal defense attorney. For the last 15 years, he has been a stay-at-home dad. But that gig is running out. Kids will soon be moving out and moving on.
This entry was posted in DUMB SHIT I'VE DONE, SELF HELP, SPIRIT. Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Aleen Keshishian says:

    Amazing visual. I will try it. Do sharks respond to MDNA as well?

  2. Great post. I’m very fascinated by meditation and mindfulness and visualization. Visualization is part of art therapy (not what you’re doing but related), when used with an art therapist. It’s great to do on your own of course. The octopus squeezing brought up questions. How did the octopus squeeze you? With all 8 tentacles? What did the squeeze feel like? What color was it? Also the ecstasy experiment in real life, (not yours in your relationship with your octopus) it seems like a bad idea to give octopi the drug for reasons of them being less solitary. Some sea creatures are not close and in groups, like a lot of sharks. The reasons octopi aren’t social I don’t know, but nature/science could probably supply a good one. It also highlights humans emphasis on extroversion being the goal when introverts have great reasons to stay introverted and when forced to be extroverts their mental health is negatively affected. If I were that octopus on exctasy I’d go somewhere peaceful and enjoy my habitat without the distraction of other octopi… any way it’s a cool visualization and description of how surprising your mind can be. By the way you can meditate in the “corpse” pose and not have to sit at all. I got the stamp of approval from my yoga/meditation teacher/guide. I hate sitting still.

  3. Enjoyed that! Loved the deadpan humour. And the apologies. I can’t believe you are hard-hearted! Had to look up MDMA.

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