I carry a lot of energy. I’m certain I possess more than the average person, and most times that tends to work in my favor and can be put to good use. But during my husband’s layoff last year I realized that without the proper tools for channeling that energy, it can turn into anxiety and worry in an instant.
Because of this, on recommendation from a dear friend, I joined an introductory meditation class. Leading up to the class there are several things that happened. One, the class got canceled. What does it mean when your four-week class to combat stress is canceled? Oh, and it was also scheduled during the holidays, helpful for those of us that might need meditation tools to not go ape shite on our family and have to send handwritten apology notes to everyone after a table gets flipped or something of that nature. Second, I happened to stumble across an article about a study released in a psychology journal about the grey matter of the brain physically changing with the practice of meditation. It’s a fascinating read, you can find it here.
At any rate, the four-week session finally began a couple of weeks ago. The first couple of sessions, I was thrashing around in my own head. My body physically went from hot, like I was engulfed in a warm blanket, to the next time feeling frigid, to my mind taking on other people’s burdens. For instance, a woman in the class who’d been practicing for years with Buddhist monks said they taught her to visualize what she wanted while meditating. Another woman walked into the class 15 minutes late all frazzled and explained that her father had just died (not the reason she was late) and she needed to find peace. So, of course the next trip into meditation I thought about being pregnant (something I want) and my own dad death issues surfaced (the irony is not lost on me that I’m doing this the month that is the ten-year anniversary of my father’s death). The mediator of the course explained that what shows up in meditation is similar to what you’re like in your life e.g., if you have chatter and thoughts in your head a lot that’s what’ll happen on the mat.
Mind you, there are many different types or meditation. There’s very structured do-not-make-a-sound-or-movement stuff, or mantra driven, and so forth. The one I’m taking is willy-nilly stuff, which certainly takes me far from my comfort zone. You can scratch your nose and cough and apparently leave your cell on vibrate loud enough for the entire class to hear that you’re very important and someone desperately needs to reach you because they are blowing up your phone. You’re allowed to cry. You’re allowed to think. But you’re not allowed to create a story associated with the thoughts. So, I’m thinking me imagining that I turned into a talking unicorn with the horn coming out of my third eye and galloping around a grassy field and randomly speaking with a British accent is a no-no.
Someone described their experience as “delicious,” and I think maybe that same woman said being in the class was like “coming home,” and my how she had missed “the sweet nectar.” Um yeah. It sorta reminds me of one of the funniest experiences I’ve ever had with my sisters. This could be a “you had to have been there” situation, but it’ll make me cry from laughing to this day. While we were visiting my twin in California post-breakup with her boyfriend of eight years, the mood was a bit somber to say the least. We decided to make a nice dinner and went to Santa Cruz’s equivalent of Whole Foods (because even that’s too much of a chain) to get dinner. And by the way the store is ridiculous, because much like any Northern Cali grocery over half of the shelves are racks of local wine. Love it. Well, while walking back to my twin’s Subaru we notice a woman near the driver’s side of her car sipping tea out of a porcelain cup (I’m talking proper tea service cup, not a to-go coffee mug) having a chat with a bird perched in the tree limb just near her car. My older sister, needed to get in the passenger side, and the bird lady wasn’t budging, lost in her moment with, clearly, the feathered love of her life. My sister huffed around, shimmied into the car, slammed the door, locked it, and declared, “That fucking crazy woman is talking to a Goddamn bird.” And continued, “Gawd, I couldn’t live in California.” Then went on to question, “I wonder how long she’s been out here?” I sit somewhere (I think) between my two sisters. My guess is my twin, had we not been there, would’ve joined the lady and the fascinating philosophical meaning of life and might have even shared in her tea drinking. My older sister would’ve shooed Tweedy away, flipped the lady the bird, followed by a stern evil eye to both, then gone about her day.
I can’t get mad because people see the beauty in things I find a distraction. For me, it’s never been about stopping and smelling the roses, so perhaps it’s about not judging the person having a ten-minute conversation with a robin and being okay with whatever shows up in meditation—pregnant bellies, dead fathers, third eyes and unicorns with British accents—sweet nectar and all.