Turn-Ons: The idea of stillness.
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For me, meditating is like having bad sex. It fulfills a need but I'm bored, my mind wanders and I can't stop wondering how soon it'll be over. But unlike bad sex, I know that meditation is a good and necessary evil. Why?
Well, I've noticed that I've got these preconceived, new-agey ideals about appropriate emotional responses to life's experiences and traumas. And they all tend to be positive, glass half-full, seek-the-lesson kind of ideals that are all warm and fuzzy with bright smiley faces. Ask me how I feel and I'll tell you how I think I should feel which is usually an exuberant "Great!". Yep, "Great!"; even after my husband dumped me or when I found out months later about his one night stand and, even ater, his surreptitious affair. Yep, I'm the queen of detachment; carefully avoiding feelings of emotional hurt, pain, sadness or anger. Who wants to be burdened with those heavy emotions anyway? So I keep myself busy, active and happily distracted. The idea of slowing down enough to genuinely reconnect with my body, mind and spirit is a frightening one. That's when the truth surfaces in the form of an emotional breakdown in the middle of Pilates class.
And yet there I was, of my own volition, propped up on a zafu (meditation cushion) at the Shambhalla Meditation Center struggling with stillness in the company of strangers while the truth of my emotions felt like creepy crawlers beneath the surface of my skin. I was challenged to focus on the transit of my breath as I inhaled the coolness of the air conditioning through my nasal passages, past the back of my throat and into the depth of my lungs before reversing the process with a warm exhale. I grappled with "mindfulness" which was explained as being present in each moment without judgment. I dutifully sought an inward journey toward the calm and peace that already resides within me rather than desperately seeking bliss. And as both positive and negative thoughts poked and prodded my mind, I endeavored to acknowledge them with equanimity and let them go. I worked hard to sit in my mental discomfort without trying to escape it but, instead, "return to the cushion" and welcome stillness of thought.
I couldn't help it, though. My insides were relentlessly fidgety despite my every effort to wrangle my thoughts and force them to disappear beyond the walls of the meditation room without judgment. I couldn't help but wonder "HOW. MUCH. LONGER?". The ultimate sound of the gong was sweet ecstasy and the signal that our first period of meditation had ended. I raised my gaze and unwound my legs only to discover that, like bad sex, our meditation had only lasted a mere 4 minutes!
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