Today I was able to be participate in a meditation session. My friend invited me to join her earlier in the week and I agreed to go instantly…something I do too often! Nonetheless, I knew it was something I wanted to experience. I found my self thinking about what the experience was going to be like throughout the week. Questioning myself on how I would do during the session, what others would think of me, if I would be the worst meditator, and if I would enjoy the overall experience. I could not identify what I felt and that was hard for me.
This morning I woke up earlier than usual and I began cleaning my house, made tea, and packed my bags for meditation. I hardly ever wake up and start cleaning so I figured I was nervous or excited. On the way I didn’t listen to music, there was a blank and simple tone in the air that I stayed in rhythm with … I enjoyed it.
** I find that I never really notice I’m not listening to anything in particular until I’m about 15 minutes into a drive. My emotions aren’t being swayed by a particular song, a podcast, or a commercial. A small joy… a joy of simply being.**
I arrived at the meditation center and was stopped by one of the group leaders who shared with me a few tips about meditation and instructed me about what I was going to experience and how to focus on my breath and my body. She spoke in a soft tone and demonstrated a small sense of what I could do to ground myself in the moment. – I still felt anxious.
I walked into the meditation room and there were some people on the floor and some people in chairs. I grabbed the closest seat I could find and then took a seat. I started to look around. No one appeared to notice me and I was grateful if that. I took the instructors advice and sat with my back straight, chin pointed slightly down to the ground and placed my hands on my legs. I kept my eyes open… during this meditation the instructor shared that they encouraged people to keep their eyes open so they can assimilate an experience similar to their daily lives – to practice mindfulness and meditation despite our surroundings.
So I fixated my eyes on a lit candle and stayed with my shallow silent breath. I could hear the man beside me intentionally inhaling and exhaling and inhaling and exhaling…. but my breath was still and almost so faint I could be dead. I slowly began moving my neck in a circular motion to relive some shoulder and neck stiffness. Moving so slow to try and get rid of each tension. I did this movement several times. I stopped and listened to the sounds of the room. People breathing, rustling, coughing, squirming – and in that moment I felt in control. I closed my eyes and continued to listen to sounds pouring over the room. I felt like a composer directing a choir of sounds without knowing what was to come. A pull of control and acceptance… I liked this part.
Then all of a sudden the gong was stuck… ding…. the vibration created a ripple effect of sound and everyone stood up. The instructor told us that we would begin our walking meditation at this time and the intention behind walking was to notice our feet planting into the ground. Each toe and each heel had a purpose. We walked in a circle, the class following one behind another. Some slower, some faster we all walked without any destination in mind but the intention to walk. How beautiful.
After 10-15 minutes of walking the instructor rang the bell…ding… the same vibration from earlier spread through the room. People returned to their space… but stayed standing. I was unfamiliar with the practice so I sat down and quickly stood back up. It was not until the instructor motioned the group to sit that others slowly rested downwards. There was intention in movement and preparation of the next meditation. I appreciated this.
We continued to meditate, using our breath and our body as ways of finding peace and clarity. Each persons breath moved in their own harmonious way, I could hear the shuffling of the cushion as people worked to get comfortable, coughs and scratches, big long inhales and intentional exhales. The room was alive, the room had a purpose, the room was real.
Once the second meditation came to an end the same bell was rung and we were finished. The instructor asked that we all sit in a circle and introduce ourselves to one another by stating our name and how we were feeling. “Sarafina, and I am feeling curious”, the circle continued over and over again, hearing responses such as calm, relaxed, agitated, in pain, distracted, unsettled…. and it continued, feeling after feeling until we returned to the first person.
I can only describe how this experience was like through an art piece. The piece that begins this story. On Sunday morning, 35-40 people in this small town gathered together with the intention to meditate amongst others… how incredible that each persons experience was unique to their being and their perspective of that moment. For me…a feeling of awe and wonder spread through the crowd.
Deciding to go to meditation Sunday morning was a big step in a good direction. Meditation is a form of being mindful and aware of what our minds and bodies are experiencing. If you get a chance to go to a class or even take 30 minutes out of your day to practice meditation and mindfulness definitely try it out! I found it to be challenging a times but I did my best to stay open to the experience and allow my mind to go where it wanted. I recognizing unnecessary thoughts, wandering ideas, and even body restlessness as a way of my body and mind communicating with me. Based on the other group members it is apparent that everyone’s experience is different. There is no one magical way to meditate and starting out it is a little strange and at times difficult. Keep this in mind when you begin, and as always be kind to yourself and your journey.
I enjoyed the meditation. I enjoyed sitting and being silent. I enjoyed knowing that in that particular moment there was nothing I had to do but to be in the space and invite my mind to join. I enjoyed feeling open and honest with myself. I enjoyed the simplicity of loving my mind, loving my body, and loving my journey. I enjoyed me.