He just could not fathom it.
It just looked all wrong.
In the darkness the spider's web glowed in the moonlight.
But it was wrong somehow. He thought that there were to be too many concentric cirlces, too closely woven together towards the centre, it was too densely populated. Were they red leaves clinging to it?
He considered touching it. Maybe to tease out the sticky fibres and set it right. He remained still, fascinated by the bright indigo-blue butterflies blinking around the web. He remained seated and was strangely relaxed, even felt warm in the cold of the night.
He took a few deep breaths and inhaled the night air, and became aware of a smell. An acrid, smokey, sweet smell of oil. Popcorn maybe?
Anxiety pinched at his solar plexus and twisted hard. His whole body followed the spiral. His shoulders dropped, elbows sought solace from each other. His knees raised a little, and his lungs decided to have no room for air constricting his breathing. Every breath was an effort now.
Closing his eyes he remembered his training.
He must centre himself.
He tried to take a deep breath in through his nose. The air was thick and sticky like treacle, but he pulled more and more of the sickly sweet substance into him. He thought he could taste it. How could you taste the air? He held his breath for a moment. Long enough for the oxygen to infuse with blood around his lungs he thought.
Fire burnt in his head like the time he had a competition with a friend at the swimming pool when he was eight years old. He knew he could hold his breath longer than Gary could and he went all out to prove it. He had even held his own head under water, closing his eyes tightly as he did so he was not tempted to see the silly faces Gary would pull to try and make him laugh. He had only yielded when his head burnt with pain and stars had nebulised in the darkness behind his eyelids.
The round of applause from his friends grew louder in one ear, a torrent of water descended down his cheek. He had indeed beaten Gary's time, by a full minute so it would seem. Although he had no way of telling from the single handed clock that pools seemed to always have. It only swept around and around give no indication of minutes passed, only seconds. He smiled gently at the memory.
He exhaled. It was a controlled exhalation, one that washed away the tightness from his chest and a little of his anxiety. He repeated this a few more times until his breath fell back to it's normal rhythm once again. His body relaxed a little too.
He kept his eyes closed, he had remembered that part too. Using his other senses he sampled his surroundings.
He heard distant disembodied chatter, was a radio on somewhere?
Initially he had thought that Mindfulness meditation was a load of old bollocks.
It was like any conjuring trick that you knew the secret too, it lost it's magic. The odd thing was if you learnt to explore the whole performance itself you began to see the magic grow. He used this philosophy to scan himself, and it worked well.
Using his mind he scanned the feelings and senses of his body. Starting at his toes he tried to imagine them and scanned them with his mind for signs of pain or tension. He had always thought this was a stupid thing to do. 'scanning' your own body. He knew it was a parlour trick for the mind. A way of distancing himself from his anxiety.
The distraction skillfully engaged his mind.
His toes seemed OK. A wiggle of each one in turn confirmed this. A gentle circling of his ankles next.
Lower legs , also fine.
He ventured to raise his knees slightly and they hit something firm but not too hard. He lowered his legs and continued his scan. Any thoughts or feelings he had about what that was, why that had happened, or anything else, he let pass by him. He remained focused.
Stomach OK, chest better now he had relaxed.
Was that smell getting stronger?
Concentrate, he told himself.
His mind took a simultaneous route down each arm looking for tension. This was something he really had to get to grips with, simultaneous scanning.
It was like trying to multitask. He knew it was common knowledge that humans could not actually multitask. Your brain could only focus on one thing at a time. There were enough studies to prove this. However, as humans we do multitask. We cook dinner, watch TV and engage with people on your phones and devices, and watch over our kids all at the same time. We switch between our tasks. It is just that some people have a higher switch rate than others and can achieve more things at once.
As a clinical psychologist he had seen enough 'Invisible Gorilla' videos to know the mind would focus on one thing, and not see another, if given a focus.
The act of scanning your body in meditation was a case in point.
He felt nothing untoward so far. Good.
Ignoring the taste of the air, which was growing thicker still and even a little chewy, he calmly inhaled a few more times before continuing his journey with his mind.
He resisted the temptation of wiggling them like a child doing an impression of a chicken, and continued down his forearms.
Right arm.Flick ! Left one, flick!
He switched faster and faster between his arms fooling his mind, like the way when your drew stick men at the corner of a notebook that made a small movie from the different poses you put them in. It appeared to form a single decent.
His wrists flagged up an approaching problem. They appeared to be stiff. Were they swollen? Remaining still and calm, he continued down his hands.
A flick left, flick right. again, then merge.
He scanned slowly, more carefully than he had ever done before.
A huge shadow passed over his mind. He let it pass, not daring to engage. It reminded him of when an imposing spaceship slips over the protagonist in a movie. Dark and sinister in the way it pulled fear and dread over them like a dark unwanted blanket of deep depression.
His hands had pinpricks of pain all over them.
Focus! He told himself.
Do like his mentor had said. Relax and explore your feelings and back them up with your memories. Process them. Find out what it may actually be, and not what you dread it is, not what your mind fears it is. Breathe, focus and then process.
His mind switched inside now. Allowing himself to observe the thoughts and emotions that shot past him like multicolored threads of light.
Ignore the thoughts, let them pass by.
He had found this hard to do, but being of logical mind he found a way of categorising them with colours. That way he found he could encapsulate the thought in colour and have not distraction of its contents. He slowed several green ones in turn examining their contents and caught the memory he sought before it past him.
Spiting the green sheath exposed the memory.
He was chasing the deer through the field. Strong sunlight highlighted the wide pallet of green hues that summer brought. He looked down at his legs pumping up and down and listened to his mixture of breath and laughter emanating from his ten year old body.
The deer had been fast, but he had somehow managed to keep up with it. It's tan coloured hide sprang high into the air. Its white tail flicking skywards. The deer's motion reminded him more of flying than running. It seemed to slow down from time to time, allowing him to catch up. It was playing with him. The young deer sped across the field in front of him. The field had recently been ploughed and had dark brown peaks and troughs of earth in neat rows, stretching into the distance.
The deer pronked its way into a patch of high plants back at the edge of the field and disappeared. Still laughing he ran into the plants, arms extended as if flying. His hands brushing the tops of the leaves as he did so.
The sunlight dimmed as a small cloud past in front of it. He began to notice things with the foliage. A faded paper lollipop wrapper, a crisp packet and a small white paper bag that you got when you chose your sweets at the newsagents. The windswept garbage that was now caught within a maze of emerald.
He stopped suddenly as the deer jumped clear over his head further reducing the light around him for a split second. He looked up in wonder as the graceful animal cleared him and sped along a furrow into the distance. His hands dropped to his sides and he plodded out of undergrowth into the field. His hands felt odd, they tingled and burned at the same time and started to show tiny pinpricks of white all over them.
Stinging nettles! Frantically he looked around for help, trying to ignore the growing pain.
He caught site of his hands again. Red mountains of spots had erupted over them, and they itched like hell. He resisted the urge to scratch them. Large green doc leaves grew at the edge of the patch of nettlesso he grabbed handfuls of them and frantically rubbed them all over his hands. Squeezing them he found he could produce a fine liquid which somewhat soothed the pain a little. He had cried all the way home . Fat juicy tears of pain rolled down his cheeks.
His mind released the memory and watched as it wrapped itself up again in bright green light and shot away.
He distanced himself from his thoughts and memories once more and turned his attention to scanning his body.
Making a mental note that his hands and wrists may not be up to par, he switched his attention to his neck and head. He gently probed with his mind.
Stiffness and restriction. He was unable to move his neck!
A shot of adrenaline yanked him from his mindfulness and his eyes flew open. He gasped for breath again. The air was no better.
Anxiety pinched and twisted him once again as if receiving permission to do so from his inability to breathe. It twisted harder. His eyes swam and vision blurred.
He blinked to restore his vision.
Not yet focusing fully yet he began to worry the butterflies would fly into the web and fall foul to the unseen spider. He was sure he would have to watch as the spider would parcel them up for a later meal.
Anxiety twisted and whisper to him, "You do not need to breath so much do you?"
Almost out of breath he watched and waited. The butterflies remained safely away from the web. Blinking their wings. They appeared to hover in the same position.
Could butterflies hover?
He struggled to breathe, he could not move. Suddenly frozen with fear.
There was a loud crack and the spiders web tilted and angled itself away from him along with flapping the butterflies.
Cold night air enveloped him.
"OK, that's got that out of the way! " A female voice said from the dark.
"Sir, I am from Fire and Rescue, you have a neck brace on as a precaution, stay calm and we will have you out of this car very soon."
He smiled now. He remembered that he was in his car.
He remembered hitting something and it bouncing of the bonnet.
And he hoped he had killed the vile, twisted patient the law would do nothing about.