WHY PRACTICE MEDITATION?
You can only connect the dots when you look back.
At the age of 19 I had an acid trip that forever changed the trajectory of my life.
Well, at least that's a story that I tell myself. And to an extent, all our lives and our SELVES are, are stories. And meditation is about connecting to the ultimate reality, which exists beyond stories.
And as a writer I like stories. And for the sake of personal growth I think it's important to examine the stories we tell about ourselves, others and about life.
I'm definitely a seeker. For as long as I can remember I wondered about the meaning of life. I had existential angst. Because it seemed to make no sense that once we had gathered the most wisdom and the most experience, that's when we were to die.
I was afraid of the black holes at the outskirts of the universe.
I did not believe that god existed, but I hated him anyway. And I hated religion. At least the Judeo-Christian garden variety. I looked for clues in the works of Sigmund Freud, Sartre, Carl Jung and rock bands like The Doors.
I studied astrology. I was drawn to the supernatural; reading about ghosts and spirits and UFOs and Satan was fun but I didn't really believe in any of it.
I wondered if I had a purpose.
At some point in my late twenties, I fell in love with yoga. I had explored a few styles and studios over the years, but it wasn't until year 2000 that I became hooked.
As almost every 'yogi' I know, my love affair begun with yoga asana, not meditation. Or ethics. Or pratyahara for that matter. In fact, in 2006, when I found myself 'trapped' at a yoga ashram in the Colorado Rocky Mountains for a month, I spent over two weeks dreading, hating and ridiculing the practice of meditation, that I was 'forced' to endure for up to three hours per day.
I honestly had no fucking idea why I was supposed to do the practice. It just made me feel worse. My mind was a mess. And because I thought that the practice was all about making the thoughts stop, and there was no way in hell that I could; they were just gathering momentum, like a tornado or a hurricane. So I felt like a big fat failure.
And worse, I felt like a 'bad yogi' because my hips were so goddamn tight that after just twenty minutes of sitting, cross-bones style, I feared my thighs were about to get ripped off of my torso.
I shared my dorm room with a tall and frighteningly thin woman named Daisy who bragged about being able to sit in half lotus for two hours without changing her position. She seemed like a real teacher's pet. I hated her. And I hated pretty much everyone there. Except for Amber and Nikki, whose attitudes were as bad as mine.
I think most people come to meditation because they want to feel better. I didn't come to meditation, meditation came to me.
I was unhappy in the 'normal' ways that most people are unhappy. I was insecure, lonely at times, I blamed others for what was 'wrong' in my life, and despite being in my thirties, I STILL thought that life was just around the corner. And that it would begin once I had accomplished this or that. Once my band had a record deal or I had published an article in this or that prestigious magazine. Once I had a flat belly and had learned to stand on my hands.
On my third week at the ashram, I was meditating in a smaller group, with the founder of the ashram, 'the guru,' who happened to look like Santa Claus, when suddenly my mind quieted down. And I could feel all the energy in my body. I felt like everybody and nobody at the same time, and it was euphoric in the way I had only experienced on drugs before. When the bell sounded, signaling that the meditation was over, for the first time I didn't want to stop.
I'd had my first experience of no-self. And it was glorious!
A few decades ago, when meditation started being popular in the so called West. After The Beatles and other high profile people had started to meditate, awakening was the reason that people came to meditation.
In recent years, it's almost become taboo to talk about awakening, or enlightenment.
These days meditation is often touted as a universal cure for suffering. Meditation to sleep better, to work harder, to feel less anxious, less depressed.
Awakening is often related to the discovery that our selves are nowhere to be found. One on level, we are the star of the show in nearly all our thoughts, fears and day dream. On the other hand, when we really truly look, beyond the stories. Our selves our nowhere to be found. But yet we cling to the construct of SELF, to our stories (I am Victoria, I will never have a six-pack stomach, I love dogs but am allergic to them, I'm a failed rock star but a decent teacher). And it causes a lot of suffering. So the two are definitely correlated.
I will discuss this further. Stay tuned.