TIME The Awesome Column

Man vs. Mantra

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Am I mindful of my wife's meditation? Oh yes, I mind it quite a bit

Meditation has made my life a lot more stressful. That’s because it’s my wife who’s meditating. Having once researched meditation for a TIME cover story, I believe all the studies that prove it conditions your brain to focus and reduces anxiety. What no one has bothered to study, however, is how bad meditation is for the people who live with you.

My lovely wife Cassandra felt like she needed to calm her mind after getting so stressed by parenting that she started a fight with me, after which she admitted I was completely right. Personally, I thought she just needed to keep doing whatever she did that made her realize I was right. But she decided she needed a whole course on meditation and signed up for one given over four consecutive days, taught by a guy named Théo Burkhardt. I was surprised she found an instructor with just one accent in his name.

Théo taught Cassandra how to close her eyes and think about nothing, undoubtedly while he stared at her. Because there’s only one reason a man becomes a meditation instructor: to get laid. I know this because getting laid is the only reason men do anything. I just didn’t choose my career wisely–no woman gets turned on when you tell her you’re going to make hilarious but mean-spirited jokes about her and her meditation practice in a newsmagazine. Proving my point, Théo’s Facebook page is full of photos of him posing with hot chicks. It also informed me that before he taught meditation, Théo was an actor. I was surprised his past jobs didn’t also include bachelorette-party organizer.

In addition to teaching her how to do nothing, Théo gave Cassandra a mantra. She refused to tell me what her mantra was, which made me relatively sure it wasn’t “Joel.” Now she and Théo had a secret, and she was going to repeat their secret silently to herself for 40 minutes a day.

But beyond dangerously introducing jealousy into our marriage, Cassandra’s meditation causes me stress because she now sits in a room alone with the door closed, chanting her secret with Théo twice a day, at exactly the times I need her help the most: in the morning, when we’re getting our 4-year-old son Laszlo ready for school, and at night, when we’re making dinner and Laszlo wants to be entertained. “You’re supposed to do it shortly after waking up. Then you can’t do it after dinner, because digestion gets in the way, so before dinner is the best time to do it,” she explained. “I don’t know if I’m supposed to give this stuff away, by the way. Don’t quote me.” This is from a woman who encouraged me to write about the time she ate her placenta.

Théo also sent Cassandra to a session with two Ayurvedic specialists who, upon meeting her, argued about whether she was an air or a fire before massaging her. When Cassandra came home, she told me that we should stop using olive oil, canola oil and butter and instead cook only with ghee and coconut oil. This wouldn’t have been a big deal if we mainly cooked Polynesian food and enjoyed the smell of burning everything.

I thought I was being open-minded and nonjudgmental about all this until I asked Cassandra if she was impressed with my attitude. “The only annoying thing is that after I meditate, you’re like, ‘Ohhhhhhm. Are you centered now?’ And you make a namaste gesture,” she said. “Then I’ll say something totally normal, and you’ll say, ‘Whoa! Whoa! You’re not being centered! Are you sure you were even meditating? Don’t talk so loud!’ It makes me wish I never told you I meditated.” Other than that, though, she says it has indeed calmed her mind. I don’t think meditation is making her more attuned to the universe, however, or she would have received the energy I sent to her that says, “Why can’t you just take pills like normal women?”

In December, Cassandra started planning a weeklong meditation trip to India with a bunch of fellow meditators. This was not a particularly convenient time, since I had a sitcom pilot and movie script due, in addition to more Facebooking of Théo. I asked her why someone needed to go all the way to India to close her eyes and think about nothing. She explained it was the spiritual center of meditation. This made as much sense as me going to Vegas to masturbate to porn.

In the end, Cassandra decided not to go to India and has even compromised by agreeing to meditate on a full stomach. So I’m a little less stressed. But it’s still difficult to have someone in the house so focused on getting focused. Unless she gives up on this soon, I’m going to have to start meditating too.

This appears in the February 03, 2014 issue of TIME.
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