Meditation can be a frustrating beast.
A wild and wondrous curiosity that waits patiently just outside of the firelight. For most of us it's a question mark instead of a statement. Am I doing/seeing/getting it? What is it anyway?
Very rarely I have walked through magical doors in meditation only to find them firmly closed on my return. The pathway swept clean of any breadcrumbs that signposted the way forward- the beast had beat me to it. That's usually when judgement takes over the reins.
"You really aren't very good at this."
"Your nose is itchy, why don't you scratch it?"
"What are you doing about the serious business of my dinner?"
But those doors to revelation exist and sometimes they swing open very early in our practice (just to give you something to chase for the next few decades). It was this way for me and it led to my deeper understanding of the very first 'yoga word' I learnt in my very early in my practice. I'd like to share it with you and I'd love to hear about your meditation experiences too.
It was 1997 and a friend and I had enrolled in a short meditation course. The first class was an exercise in frustration and as I sat in the second class, I could feel my blood pressure rising. It was a typical balmy Brisbane evening and negligible fans ticked overhead. I could barely hear the soft spoken teacher over the metronome of warm air. It hurt to sit on the hard floor, my back ached and my mind was seriously rebelling.
I could have been sitting on my couch watching Friends.
"I want you to count to one in your head," she said, "And then count to one again. We will continue this practice for 20 minutes."
"What the hell???" said my brain, "Did I seriously pay 70 bucks to be taught how to count to one? This is a total stitch up, how many people would I have to step over to leave now?" I opened my eyes to see about ten people between me and the closed doors. Damn!
So in the absence of an escape route, I begrudgingly began my single count. First I thought it was completely stupid, then it was somehow comforting and then something really bloody weird (but completely amazing) happened.
Sitting on that hard floor, my body suddenly seemed to disappear. My back no longer hurt and the heat no longer made my skin prickle. My monkey mind went completely silent and there was a brief moment where I actually panicked "Where have I gone?".
It was like my internal world became large enough to encompass the whole universe. There was a weird sensation of enormous expansion, it was quite visceral and completely bizarre. The eerily complete blackness seemed alive somehow and I was attached to it in a way that was serenely embryonic. There was an exchange of intelligence that had no voice but somehow filled my entire being.
"You are not your past. You are not your future. You are not damaged or hurt or happy. You are not the friend, sister, daughter, that you think you are. You are not funny or angry or sad. You are eternal consciousness. You are light."
At that moment a question seemed to form far away but I could tell it came from me. Not the 'me' hanging out in space by the way, but the me back there, with the sore back and the attitude. "Oh yeah" I challenged,"If I am light then why is it so dark here?"
"Because all light is absorbed here. Here, it is only light that exists."
With that an incredible sensation of peace flooded my whole being, followed closely by a slightly larger feeling of complete panic and fear. Back firmly in my body, I opened my eyes and wiped tears from my eyes. Embarrassed to be freaking out in a room full of peaceful faces, I was so grateful that everyone was still sat with their eyes closed tight.
I spent the next few minutes trying to compose myself and the next 20 years looking for my way back.
When I returned to yoga in my mid 20's my teacher taught me the word Namaste.
I fell immediately and quite madly in love with those three syllables. My mind immediately travelling back to the place where all light is absorbed.
"The light in me acknowledges the light in you"
We are all light. People often remark on the lack of judgment that comes with being part of a small yoga community. We all like each other. We genuinely become friends despite different ages, backgrounds and interests. In fact, after teaching hundreds of students yoga, there are only three students that I remember being judgemental of. I'm not proud of the fact that I struggled with their personality but I'm human and I'm surprised it's such a small number.
At the end of every class I really feel the power of Namaste. I can sense the light in the room. How does Yoga make this light visible to us? What's the secret unlocked in a few delicious poses and some breathing? It's still a part of the mystery of the beast. I may never know. I have a very minimal understanding of physics and I have no idea how the universe works. My experience of God is limited to nature walks and family. Who knows where my black hole fits in the scheme of things?
But Im grateful to everyone of you who chooses to shine their light in my studio, and I'm looking forward to meeting some new yogis next week in our beginners course.
My deepest wish is that we all discover our light, our grace and our connection to eternal consciousness.
I'm offering a six week course that starts next week and explores the foundations of yoga in an encouraging and supportive environment. Suitable for all levels our classes are inclusive and non-judgemental. Classes are a maximum of eight students. Cost is $99 for six weeks. Wednesday 930-1030am or Wednesday nights 630-730 pm. The next course begins on October 4th 2017.