Saturday, August 24, 2013


After a lovely afternoon in which I sat by a pool and almost finished the book I'm reading, I went off to the Yoga Room for a freebie Meditation class.

I've had a few Meditation classes -- most of them at my previous visit here, one a really misguided session I attended at a State Bar Convention which actually counted for our mandatory continuing education hours.  Mostly, I just use them to sort of zone out for a bit.  You know, to take a moment and not do anything.

Today's meditation class was different in that I think I might have learned something.  Nothing particularly revelatory, but I was actually surprised at how it went.

We did two meditations -- in one, we were supposed to focus on our breathing, and I have to say that I failed miserably at this.  The teacher suggested that we count up to 5 on each inhale and exhale, and that sent me totally off the focus-on-my-breathing rails, as it was way more interesting to focus on the numbers than it was to focus on my respiratory system.  So it seemed to take forever for that particular 7 minutes to end.

The second one involved a mantra.  She described this as actually giving yourself something to think about.  Said we were to ask ourselves what we wanted out of mediation, put that in a word or three, and then mentally repeat this over and over.  That was pretty much it in the way of direction -- other than to sort of see where it goes, but keep coming back to the words.

OK, I figured I was interested in meditation for a moment or two of calm.  Calm wasn't enough of a mantra to really get my brain around, so I also threw in Stillness and Steadiness.  "Calm, Stillness, Steadiness," I mentally repeated, for about a zillion times.  During the following seven minutes, I went off on three different little ... I called 'em vignettes.  Never lost track of consciousness or where I was or anything, but I did let the words take my imagination where they wanted to take it.

First stop (Calm, Stillness, Steadiness) was a tightrope walker.  Didn't take very long, in fact, for me to get the mental tightrope walker going along the tightrope to the rhythm of the words.  Then I did two things.  First, I mentally put myself into the position of the tightrope walker.  Second, I remembered the one time I'd actually tried tightrope walking.  (I sucked at it.) But what I'd learned from that experience is that, to walk the tightrope, you need Determination and Confidence.  I decided that was all I could learn from that particular vignette, so I returned my focus to the mantra which was running in the background, to see where it would next take me.  What does Calm, Stillness, Steadiness look like?

A wizard, standing in the center of a tempest of evil spells.  As the whirlwind spins around him, the wizard calmly, steadily uses his wand to slurp up individual evil spells.  Again, I put myself where the wizard is and see what I can learn here.  And what I learn is that there are just too many evil spells -- I'll never be able to get them all.  But if I just accept that, I can remain calm and keep them from overwhelming me.  OK then, Acceptance.  What else can I pick up in this meditation?

Calm, Stillness, Steadiness... Calm, Stillness, Steadiness.  A leaf on a tree in the wind.  This one was problematic, because the leaf wasn't staying calm or still.  Wanted to (apparently) but couldn't.  So, I try to figure myself as the leaf (that one's a stretch, but I'm pretty new at this meditation thing, so I go with it) and ask what I can do to be still when I'm buffeted by the wind.  And then (and I think this may have been the only actual revelation of this meditation), I realize that I just have to wait until the sun comes out.  Patience, I reckon, is the lesson from this one.

I'm looking around for another vignette the mantra can give me when the meditation ends.  I damn near want a pen and paper to write this down:  To achieve calm, stillness, and steadiness, you need determination, confidence, acceptance, and patience.  I think that works for me.

I'm not entirely sure I was actually looking for this lesson.  I think I just wanted to meditate to get a little peace in the middle of a sometimes hectic life.  But I was genuinely pleased at the results.

Also (while meditating on the meditation), I realized that the three vignettes got progressively more distant from myself.  I mean, the first was a person doing something I'd actually attempted; the second was a person doing something fantastical; the third wasn't even a person.  (And it was from nature.  Where the hell did that come from?  Probably the wind blowing earlier today when I was outside reading my book.)  Interesting.

Can't say I'm going to run out and start meditating regularly now, but the experience did give me a little peek into the value of just sort of focusing on what you're aiming for, and letting your brain off the leash a little bit to see it what solutions it could come up with.

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