The Gift of Focus.
Oh, I was so looking forward to my meditation class this morning. I woke up early after only 6 hours of sleep with my mind already racing. Before my feet even hit the floor I was creating list after list in my head for the upcoming week. Thankfully, I was going to be able to tell my pestering ‘head voice’ to take a hike. It annoys me, that head voice. Besides, our teacher was going to begin a new series of discussions on Buddhist Tantric Meditation, and who doesn’t want to learn about Tantra?
Ah, that often misconstrued word, Tantra. Naturally, we westerners associate the word with sex, (I blame Sting,) so it only stands to reason that the class was packed full. I grabbed a cushion and took my usual spot on the floor, right next to the cold wind seeping under the emergency exit door so as not to be lulled into involuntary sleep.
Before we go any further, let’s just say that I’m not the world’s most experienced meditator. This is my fifth class, and before that I would sometimes sit on my bed and attempt to make my mind a clean chalkboard before falling asleep 5 minutes later. My biggest motivator for attending classes was my devotional adoration of Savasana, (appropriately dubbed Corpse Pose,) at the end of yoga class, when I could float out of my body and not think of a damn thing. I wanted more of that feeling.
What I got this morning was a solid hour of fighting with my head. It went a little something like this:
“I’m closing my eyes and breathing in and out. Why can’t I get comfortable? I should have grabbed another cushion; my leg is totally asleep already. I’m imagining my thoughts as bubbles rising to the surface of the ocean and popping. Why am I the only one sitting on the floor today? This is ridiculous, just focus! Concentrate on the cool breath of the inhale and the warm breath of the exhale. Hey, I’ve never seen that guy here before. He’s pretty cute. Wait, why are my eyes open?! “
I was never able to completely let go, but I managed to relax enough to listen to my teacher explain some basic principles of Tantric Meditation. It is sometimes called the “Resultant Vehicle” because it teaches the practitioner to visualize the desired results. Our point to ponder was that nothing of this physical world exists without first being conceptualized in the imagination. In this way, we are able to visualize ourselves as enlightened beings in order to ultimately manifest as enlightened beings. That is some serious imagining!
As I stood up to leave, I was frustrated with myself for having such a lack of focus. My head still felt all full of “stuff”, and my thoughts were in no way expansive. I had thought I was making some positive linear progression with meditation, and now felt further away than when I began.
The drive home was much like the rest of my morning. The car in front of me was going 45 m.p.h. in a 65 m.p.h. zone, and I was stuck. Boxed in. Trapped. Why would someone drive 45 in the fast lane? This person was clearly not paying attention. Couldn’t I just get around somehow?
I don’t know how it happened. It was definitely not a conscious thought. I suddenly found myself sincerely thankful to the slow driver for saving me from a well-deserved speeding ticket. My own thought took me by complete surprise.
And just like that, the car moved over to let me pass.
Kristi Glaze enjoys loving animals, eating plants, and stumbling her way through a daily Ashtanga practice. She hopes to one day make it through an entire meditation session without her butt falling asleep. Kristi can regularly be found on Facebook and Twitter reading elephant journal articles while she is supposed to be working.