There’s a Bell in My Head that Makes ding-dong and keeps me from thinking. Watch the craziness in the finale of Act 1 of Rossini’s opera “An Italian Woman in Algiers”, first performed in 1813. Rossini, often discounted as too shallow as a composer has captured in detail and with humour a common challenge when things start to get overwhelming and confusing: all you hear is a bell in your head and the clarity to understand the situation and make a decision is gone.
“La mia testa è un campanello che suonando fa din din.
Nella testa ho un gran martello mi percuote e fa tac tà.
Sono come una cornacchia che spennata fa crà crà
Come scoppio di cannone La mia testa fa bum bum.” (translation)
— L’Italiana in Algeri, Finale Act 1. Gioacchino Rossini, 1813
Take a look – and listen:
Maybe you should meditate. Just sit. Quietly, without moving. Yet this seems to you like the story of the guy admiring impeccable British lawn: How do you get it so perfect? – Oh just water twice a day, cut twice a month and roll twice a year – that’s easy – just do it for 300 years… Yet, even if you manage once to sit for 20 minutes without moving, just breathing normally and instead of desperately trying to ban all though just let them come and go, you will experience why you want to do it again. Not so sure? Than you need to try again. No time to sit and meditate for 20 minutes? Then you should sit for 40 minutes.
Actually it’s not even meditation, just sitting. So even when you think meditation is for wimps, there is a path for you: just sit. You can of course sit on the floor in full lotus position or somehow cross your legs in a way that your knees touch the ground (that’s important to get the stability (think stool with three legs) and you will need a cushion or something to elevate your body to accomplish this – or sit on a chair, as long as your spine is straight.
Yes meditation is a powerful way to regulate emotion and prevent depression as well as many other benefits, including but not limited to enlightenment. But most important, it allows you to stop the bell ringing, the hammer that knocks and the radio that constantly plays in your head.
Try it and you will succeed and the moment you succeed, you will fail again and try again and you cannot graduate or get a black belt and advance. That’s it – nothing else. This alone is worth the effort. And it’s so simple that it is really hard.
And if nothing else helps, listen to Rossini – how they try to escape from Algiers and get back to their home in Italy to be free from the slavery of this crazy guy who keeps everybody with best intention in a luxurious palace. (You get the idea).
Translation from the Italian text:
In my head I have a little bell which rings ding, ding
In my head I have a big hammer which knocks me and goes tick tack.
I’m like a crow which when plucked goes craw, craw.
Like a cannon shot my head goes boom, boom
(translation by Mark Wolston)
The complete opera is here.