I stopped drinking when my first marriage broke up. Since our nightly pastime was to get drunk and argue, I felt that alcohol might have something to do with the breakup, so I decided to quit as kind of an experiment. It was during this period that I had my first experience with meditation. There was a beautiful meditation center near where I lived in Santa Monica, so I signed up for a course.
I began to practice meditation. They instructed me to think of my mind as a glass of water with tiny bubbles at the bottom of the glass. With my eyes closed I was to visualize the bubbles floating from the bottom of the glass up to the surface of the water and disappearing. These bubbles were my thoughts. I tried this for a couple of weeks but didn't feel like it was "working." But I realized the problem was -- I didn't have the right equipment. So I went out and bought myself a meditation cushion, a meditation shawl, a gold framed picture of the guru, some sandalwood incense and some meditation music -- the same music they played at the center. I memorized a mantra.
I set up inside my walk-in closet. I propped up picture of the guru on a little table, sat on my meditation cushion wrapped in my mediation shawl, lit the incense and turned on the music. I remember feeling very "spiritual." I closed my eyes and began to repeat my mantra and watch the tiny bubbles rise to the surface, expecting at any moment to be overcome with wave after wave of bliss. You can probably guess what happened. Nothing. Well, that's not entirely true -- all the clothes in my closet smelled like sandalwood for months. Shortly thereafter I went back to drinking.
It helps me remember that there is no goal in meditation, no special feeling to achieve. I already am the peace I am seeking. No amount of equipment, technique, or Hindu mantras can take the place of just sitting down and being quiet.