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Please, WNYC, For the Love of God Get Rid of ‘Meditation Minute’

What if we would very much like to not think about our corporeal existence?

5:19 AM EDT on August 5, 2022

A neon sign reading "breathe" is displayed in front of a leafy background

(Tim Goedhart / Unsplash)

Recently, I was absentmindedly listening to WNYC as I ran an errand when I was reminded of the reason why I no longer listen to WNYC in the afternoon, and specifically between the hours of noon and 2 p.m.: I heard that now-ominous, anxiety-inducing gong that signaled the start of the public radio station’s “Meditation Minute,” aka, "I Need a Minute," aka the worst 60 seconds of the day. 

This one-minute assault on my eardrums began airing in April 2020, as the city was in lockdown and full of death and official incompetence. Many of us were driven by early pandemic mania to bang pans out of our windows; perhaps that same impulse led WNYC to believe its audience was in need of a 60-second daily reminder to breathe.

Led by the station’s director of listener services Lorraine Mattox, who we were informed by “All of It” host Allison Stewart also “leads a regular meditation session for staffers,” “Meditation Minute,” is ostensibly meant to be a nice midday, mind-clearing break. Instead, it’s 60 seconds of pure auditory torture during which we are told to “close our eyes” (what if we’ve driving) and "notice if we're holding on to any tension" (are you joking ha ha), all cooed by Mattox, who I’m sure is a lovely person but whose voice makes me want to stab myself in my (closed) eye. 

Now, in addition to having to live in an endless pandemic and a looming ecological collapse, we also have to suffer the indignity of being exhorted to live in an endless state of mindfulness. Does WNYC think so little of us, and that we need to be smugly lectured to be aware of our bodies? What if we would very much like to not think about our corporeal existence? Are you aware that your well-intentioned attempt to reduce stress is actually raising the blood pressure of at least one New Yorker (me) and likely many others? (If you’re a fan of “Meditation Minute” and especially in 2022—why are you lying to yourself?)

I could just simply turn the radio off during that offending minute, and then turn it back on once it's over. However, I am lazy, and that seems like a lot of effort. But more to the point: Do we listen to WNYC, among the nation's preeminent public radio stations, because we are desperate to hear a daily, patronizing bit wrapped up in the language of self-care? No, we listen to WNYC for its civic-minded programming and for the deep pleasure of hearing our fellow New Yorkers talk about how much they hate the mayor.

Please, WNYC: Put me and the legions of public radio listeners who often just want some nice interviews and news to get us through our day out of our misery. Brian Lehrer would never do this to us.

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