Listen to the dramatic reading by R.J. Kushner:

Hello, and welcome to your daily guided mediation. Find a comfortable position and listen to the sound of my voice as I guide you to a state of calming relaxation.

Begin by focusing on your breathing. Take a long, deep breath. And exhale. Try not to think about that scene in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory where the boat is going through the tunnel of hell and things get absolutely fucked up beyond all recognition. Thoughts of that scene have no place in this mindful state we are entering. Simply wave goodbye to those thoughts as they float by in your mind.

Gradually bring your attention to back to your breathing. Is it quickening? If so, you are still thinking of that tunnel scene from Willy Wonka that came out of nowhere and ruined your life. Try not to picture Willy Wonka’s face as he descends into horrifying madness in mere moments. If you can’t help but picture his cold, menacing eyes in your mind, do not meet his gaze; look away and allow him to continue staring into your soul until he’s finished. When meditating, we must allow some thoughts to run their course before they can truly fade away.

Now, I want you to unclench your jaw. Unclench your jaw. There you go. Feel each of your facial muscles begin to relax. Do not imagine you are on that Oompa Loompa-powered death boat with Willy Wonka. Do not picture the myriad of insects and animals being slaughtered on the tunnel walls as you fly by at a precarious speed. Instead, allow yourself to unwind.

I want you to feel the weight of your arms at your sides. Feel the tension begin to melt away. Pay attention to your neck, to your shoulders, all the way down to your elbows and your fingers. Good. Try not worry about being strangled by Slugworth amid the life-altering bedlam of the boat ride scene from Willy Wonka. Let go of your cares. Let go of your anxieties. Let go of the small dagger you keep near your bed should thoughts of the boat tunnel scene from Willy Wonka become “too real.” Allow it to slowly fall from your grip; hear the dagger as it clamors to the floor. Take another deep breath. Exhale.

Bring this awareness down to your legs. Focus on where they are and how the chair or bed you’re on feels beneath them. Allow them to relax. Reward your legs for the work they do for you. Give them this time to rest. After all, if you were on that boat with Willy Wonka, there’d be nowhere to run. There’d be nowhere to go and nothing to do but experience the blinding lights and the trauma of the unknown.

Now, focus on your screaming. Hear how it reverberates around the room as you lie there tormented by that boat tunnel scene from Willy Wonka. Give yourself the gift of gradually lessening the volume of your screaming little by little until it slowly dwindles to a soft, pathetic whimpering. Take your time. You deserve this moment of tranquility.

I want you to feel the cold sweat dripping down your entire body and pooling beneath your arms and lower back. Do not allow these pools of sweat to remind you of the deceptively innocent chocolate river that flows into the tunnel of terrors, where cries from the damned down go unheeded, and awareness of your life’s intractable hurtle toward an anarchic death is equally inescapable. Good. Very good.

I’m now going to count down from five. As I count, allow yourself to drift deeper and deeper into a relaxing, meditative state.

Five. There is an earthly way of knowing which direction we are going.

Four. The rowers are showing signs of slowing.

Three. The danger is not growing.



And, exhale.