A Journey Through Meditation

April 02, 2017

There are four of us in the room including our meditation guide. He sits straight, a relaxed gleam in his eye. It’s not my first time meditating, but already I can tell that the session will be different. Not bad or good – just different. Earlier that day, we have a conversation about silence in one of my classes. We talk about silence as transcendence, silence as a reprieve, silence as a tool to achieve spiritual enlightenment. Before we begin the session, I can feel the silence pressing down on my ears, and I wonder if the silence is so outstandingly present that the Sufi masters had to look toward a greater being to escape such oppressiveness. Thankfully, the air conditioner whirs softly in the background. My heart thumps two beats faster than it had before, and I don’t know why.

Our meditation guide tells us to find a comfortable position on our chair. We’re in a drab room with brown walls, brown carpet, and remnants of stress from previous meetings. It smells of an important lunch, maybe sandwiches with strong onions in them, leaving an unsettling feeling in my own stomach. I shift in my chair. What is a comfortable position? I twist right and left. I slouch, I lean in, I lean back, I bounce a little. Our guide moves on and tells us to close our eyes. His voice cushions my ears from the deafening silence, lulling me into a false sense of calm. I plant my feet firmly on the ground, just as he tells me to. It’s not easy leaving everything we’ve brought in with us today, but I try. For a couple minutes, he leaves us with our silence.

There are only three of us. Three collective bodies thinking, but not trying to think. Together, but separate, unified in our meditation. The journey of the self in the presence of other selves. I begin to wonder what the others are thinking about. An attractive boy sits next to me and I meditate on his beautiful features – a rigid jawline, crinkles around his stark blue eyes, slight smile. His mellow voice rings in my ears from when we were talking before the session, distracting me from the current silence. Acutely aware of his presence, I realize I am not in my own. My mind reluctantly pulls itself back to my body. I feel my feet planted firmly on the ground. Outwardly I must look sturdy. Inside, I want to jump out of my seat or bounce my leg up and down or touch the boy next to me.

Our meditation’s guide’s voice softly cuts the quiet air once again. He tells us to breathe in whatever pace felt natural to us, to notice how it feels, to continue to leave the burdens we brought in with us. He tells us to inhale. And then exhale. Suddenly, I am aware of the way blood pumps through my body. The image of students occupying the spaces just outside the room enters my head as well as the bustling activity of the streets outside. I see the sun and I feel the pulse of blood and I’m way too close to my own existence, simultaneously in and out of myself. Breathing deeply, I exhale with a sigh. All I can think is that the vitals that allow me to inhale and exhale are going to cease one day and I don’t know when. My heart beats faster in its ribcage. I close my eyes. I could be anywhere.

“Take another breath. Reel your mind back in from where you came, taking a brief moment to ponder, curiously, on how you got there. Feel your feet planted firmly on the ground. You’re here right now.”

Am I? The air conditioner continues to roar in the background of my journey, transposing me to a different era, place, existence, planet, consciousness. I could be anywhere. I could be absolutely anywhere. If I open my eyes maybe I’ll become a different person, a different entity entirely. I could look down right now and see five limbs sprouting out of my body without any sort of torso. Maybe I’d speak and an unrecognizable utter would come out of my mouth without my permission. A different room would surround me, the whir in the background the only constant except in this world the sound is only in my head because it’d be the way the species, our species, communicates –

“Now come back again. Breathe deeply. In. And out. Keep your feet firmly planted on the ground.”

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