Sunday, June 21, 2015

     So I decided to bite the bullet and try Mindfulness Meditation. My friend and I walked into a room about 20 x 30 which had a distinct moldy odor. I attributed it to the fact that the young male instructor had just turned on the window-mounted air conditioner which now hummed just loud enough to cover any body sounds. There were large pillows set in a circle on the floor, and we were instructed to either pull one up or grab a Yoga mat. Now a few people were arriving, mats in armpits and feet bare. We asked whether to sit or lie down, and he told us it was our choice. My friend and I looked at each other, eyed the large pillow and subtly shook our heads with a “not-putting-the-hair-on-that” look. Keeping our minds open, we waited for instructions.
The young man, seated Buddha-style, explained the metal bowl in front of him saying that the three sounds it made when he tapped it with his wooden tool were to help us stay focused and in the moment. 

     After everyone arrived, our group numbered seven—one man and the rest women, except for the instructor. He told us to get into a comfortable position, close our eyes and begin to focus on our breathing. Whenever someone tells me to breathe, I freeze. When they tell me to relax, I tense up. The room got coffin quiet, and we all sit there focusing on our nostrils and chest cavities. For some reason, the young man turned off the air conditioner. It was so quiet, you could easily hear—-Oh, Lord, I think to myself, what if I fart? Or what if someone else does? ugh.What if my starving stomach starts gurgling?

     I force my mind to focus on my breathing. Hmm. I can’t hear my breathing, and I’m not
sure if it’s mine or someone else’s breathing. Hmm. I notice that my thoughts are swimming around, and I’m not supposed to be having any. Hmm. Thoughts such as, “Am I going to be able to sit in this position and not move for an hour?-How will I know when the hour is up?I suppose a clock would be out of the question.-Maybe I will have to lie down if my back gets tired, but the noise of my moving might disturb someone else.-It sure is musty in here.-Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea.” At this moment, the nice young man begins to speak quietly and clanks the gong on the metal bowl. Hmm. I like that sound. It’s kind of soothing. Oh, thank heavens, he just turned the air back on. Now whatever sounds escape will be muffled by the whirring of the air conditioner. Hmm. I haven’t really relaxed yet, and my “zone” is filled with worry.

     Finally, I am able to let go of my anxiety about the process and start letting my mind take its own journey. All kinds of things are floating through my head. Am I asleep, and are these dreams, or am I awake dreaming? There are dogs, people I don’t know, landscapes I don’t recognize. The tension seems to have subsided, but I’m still having thoughts, and the goal is to be thoughtless. Hmmm. I shift slightly against the wall. “I’m going to have a flat spot in my hair from leaning against this wall. I wonder who else has leaned against it. Did they have head lice?” Oops. Real time not allowed. Refocus on breathing. 

     Now I am hearing loud snoring. It seems to be coming from across the room where there are two young women lying under blankets. No, now it’s coming from the guy two bodies over. Can you snore when you’re awake? Did these people pay $15 to come here to nap? Hmm.

     What seemed like just a few minutes later, the nice young man told us to begin relaxing our shoulders and to wiggle our toes. I took this to mean that the hour was coming to an end. It didn’t seem that long. The musty smell is still there, and yes, there is a flat spot in my hair now. Do I feel relaxed? Not sure. I put my money in the little basket “on the honor system,” and wonder if there are any here who have no honor—just Yoga mats. Not sure. 

My friend and I make a pact that we will try at least 5-10 minutes of meditation this week. We will touch base after that to decide if we will return to the musty. No matter what happens in this life, most of it is blog-worthy, so that’s a good thing. Hmmmmmmmmm. . .