November 1, 2016

Anatomy of a Meditation: on the Path to Bliss.


There is a lot of confusion about what meditation is.

That issue is tackled neatly in Amanda Yik’s recent blog, The Essence of Meditation, but still people on the outside are just itching to know what’s going on with all those dudes smiling blankly and keeping so damn still.

Here’s what happened to me. {Spoiler Alert: I wasn’t particularly still.}

First, I just lied down and did nothing. Maybe I moved about a little. It doesn’t matter. The point is I did “nothing.” Not even “meditating.” No expectations. Nothing.

Then, I decided I wanted to stand with my back flat against the wall. This was tricky because I have scoliosis (a twisted spine). Eventually I got my pelvis open and my tailbone under and felt myself straighten up properly. Inside my body felt euphoric, really like it had accomplished something. And it had.

Next, I got the urge to headstand. A little bit of doubt crept in (‘Should I be doing that? I should probably warm up. This isn’t meditating…”) which I ignored. I headstanded, continuing to let my body be my guide, not worrying if what I was doing turned into a headstand or didn’t.

It did. A pretty sweet one actually.

In between, I relaxed my spine in child’s pose. I just seemed to be the right thing to do. I began to remember back to my childhood, how I had always just moved as I wanted to, how I used to lie on the bed, or upside down, not because I was meditating or “inverting” but because my body just wanted to be that way and I didn’t argue with it.

I smiled a little at the thought of my daughter hanging off the sofa to watch TV. That thought passed too. Anyway, aware of my spine I decided to lie down in proper savasana (lie still and let the body relax fully) for a bit after the headstand, to let my spine straighten back out.

So I lied down on my mat, but my body wasn’t ready to stop yet. I didn’t feel flat for a start. So I put my arms and legs in the air and felt my spine against the floor. I wanted to roll about like that and so I did. At some point my legs wanted to move, apparently in reverse cycling motions. I let them.

Every now and then I put them on the floor and noticed if my back arched up or not. I remembered how good it felt when I was standing against the wall and when I was headstanding to have my pelvis open and my pubic bone tilted up. I let that happen. Nice.

Now I wanted to savasana. My body was flat and relaxed, my eyes comfortably closed and I began my counting thing. I just count to 10 three times. So simple. This led me to notice my breathing. I let my hands dig around under my ribs a bit to feel the breath. I began to move the breath around in my body, from my belly, to my ribcage, then my shoulders. I kept trying to find the breath in my head too. I don’t know how long I did this for. I remember thinking I could do it longer, but my mind had started to wander.

My mind had been wandering most of the time. Everyone, except masters of meditation, has thoughts while practicing. Usually I go through an initial cycle of:

What am I doing?
This is a waste of time.
What number am I on?

It’s monkey mind type stuff, and then there is a period where my thoughts really are just settled and I don’t think about anything except having awareness of my body. Sometimes I get judgmental, sometimes not. I try not to judge myself for being judgmental and move on.

After that I got what I like to call a “Eureka! Moment.” Something that isn’t part of the right-now jumps back into my head. Something like, “I could be an astronaut!” or, “[Name of Friend] should hear this song!” It always feels like the most brilliant and important thought I have ever had. Something that my subconscious has probably been trying to find a space to tell me among all the busy talk. It’s really hard at this point not to jump out of my meditation and act. Really hard. Often I don’t manage it.

I let this Eureka! Moment pass and accepted I was probably done with savasana and brought myself slowly up and out, again feeling a little irritated with myself for “failing” to stay in the meditation. Sitting upright I noticed how strong and comfortable I felt. I also didn’t want to move from this state and this spot. Luckily I didn’t have to. Not today. So I closed my eyes again and let myself meditate some more. I started counting to ten three times again.

After that, all sorts of loveliness began to happen. My spine, despite the head standing, felt long and clear. The energy flow sensation that I so often miss was there. So was the feeling of quietly observing my body, without attaching any importance to what I saw.

After some time, a discomfort started in my inner right hip but it soon eased off. The back of my head felt calm in some way and my awareness seemed “complete”—wider in scope than usual. In this state it is easy to be “at one” with the whole of the universe. That is actually how it feels: peaceful, steady, and evenness.

Bliss, I guess.

Either way, it’s nothing I can feel bad about—unlike most of the other activities I undertake which I seem to find some way to get anxious about the value of, one way or another. Meditation is possible for me now, another tool in my life-kit. Like headstands, that’s something I never though I would ever experience.

As I opened my eyes and moved off the floor I remembered the Eureka! Moment I feared at the time would be forgotten. I messaged my friend. “Just breathe,” it said.


Author: Louise Bloom

Image: Author’s Own

Editor: Travis May

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