Crisis of Faith
My meditation teacher urges us to meditate two hours per day: one hour in the morning and one in the evening. For years I thought of that as the gold standard; impossible for me to attain in my daily life. Easy, when away on retreat of course, but very hard in the hectic city life I lead with many commitments and engagements. I would only sit for one hour with other meditator friends or at the centre. It took me years since my first meditation breakthrough in 2006 to even establish and maintain a daily practice. But it's been many years now, that I've sat down daily (or almost daily), closed my eyes and tried to relax my monkey mind. Often my concentration is zero, and my mind bounces from topic to topic, from worry to worry, from worry to memory to daydream to mundane observation that somehow keeps on uselessly echoing in my mind. Seldom, but sometimes I feel myself being drawn into a blissful peaceful NOW, where the sum of all my problems and character flaws seems so minuscule and petty that there's no way in hell they can rattle my calm. At times my body dissolves. But mostly though, my meditation practice reminds me that all of my problems are in my own head, and for the most part, I am convinced that it's there, in my big head, that change needs to happen.
Lately, I have ramped up my daily practice. Many days I do sit for one hour, alone. It's gotten quite easy. My body is fine, I don't feel the need to change my position. But a huge portion of the time is spent daydreaming, composing letters in my head, listening (and getting irritated) by the construction noise right outside the window; the big blue crane digging up the dirt.
And I have started to question everything. The teacher's voice echoing in my head: Remain aware, remain equanimous. But what about my concentration? Doesn't everything start there? Am I just wasting my time here if I'm mostly not concentrated? I honestly can't feel any difference in my day whether I sit for 20 minutes or one hour. But I am pretty certain that meditation has changed my life for the better. So maybe it's those little snippets in that hour where I am concentrated? They keep on adding up. I keep chipping away on the faulty wiring, my ego, whatever it is I am chipping away on.
About two weeks ago, another teacher of mine, a yogi, Buddhist, writer and activist, died suddenly. He was young, mid-forties or so. And his wife was expecting their fourth child. I was planning to attend a workshop on how to better teach meditation with him in November. The first statement from their camp was chocking, but also mysterious. And yesterday I read the second statement. It appears that he died from an opiate overdose, even though the toxicology report still is inconclusive. What? A prominent meditation and yoga teacher? A buddhist?
There has already been plenty of sex scandals in this scene; teachers abusing their power. And now a drug 'scandal.' It feels really, really sad right now. And disheartening.
I guess there are things that can't be fixed through yoga and meditation?.
I read that statement on my phone while lying in bed last night. Then I turned off the light and fell asleep. Only thirty minutes later, I got woken up by girl moaning in the hinterhof. There is a hostel there. At first I feared someone was getting hurt and opened the window to look out. I saw a girl so drunk that she couldn't get off the ground. Her friend, unsteady herself, was trying to lift her limp friend up, but her limbs weren't collaborating. She kept moaning and groaning and finally some guy came out of the hostel. More and more people came out. I was amazed at the level of intoxication. It took three people to get her to a semi-upright position. Then she started vomiting. I could smell the bile from my third floor window. Her body was that of a dummy. Another couple of girls appeared, one of them tried to give her a bottle of water. Her shoes were several meters away. Her friend said to the girls with the water: Sadly I think she won't be having any of that water any time soon. She was limp, hair hanging over her face, propped up against the hostel door.
I know I've been there. I've been that girl. Drinking myself into that state. In search of what?
A change of consciousness?
I'm still searching for that.