I went to a group meditation the other day. My first thought when I go to one of these events is usually am I going to get talked into joining some hippy cult by a bunch of crazies? You know the type where we all take our clothes off and touch each other’s chakras. You think I’m overreacting but I’m not.
This actually happened to a friend of mine recently at a local ‘personal empowerment’ course. For those that don’t know there is a chakra right in the pubic area and yes there was touching of the stranger’s nudie bits after the underdressing. At the end of the course they invited everyone to go along and do a sex course as the next stage of their ‘personal development’. My “friend” was invited by his new lesbian course buddy who thought it would take her more out of her comfort zone to do it with a dude. My friend declined but then hinted maybe I’d go with him when he told me this story. I declined. So you see, I’m hardly overreacting. This region is hippie heartland I tell you.
So clearly I have my misgivings about all this shit but despite this I went along to the group meditation session with a friend (a different one to the sex course dude). It seemed pretty Buddhist from the website so that usually means not so much on the nakedness. I’m not really sure what I expected but I did expect, at minimum, for there to be “people” in the “group”. Instead we turned up to a bunch of empty chairs, one other person and a chick monk leading the session. Or is it a monk chick? Anyway…
Funnily enough this absence of people sent my wall shooting up. Like I thought it wasn’t going to be good if there was no one else there. Like I can’t meditate without a bunch of people around. Such a loser.
I wasn’t at all perturbed about the monk chick. I’m an equal opportunity meditation course attendee. That part was all good.
We were a few minutes late so the guided meditation had already begun when we arrived. They must have been stoked with all our whispering and shuffling as we put our bags down and tried to get comfortable. As I settled in to get going I could feel the resistance building inside of me, pushing to come out with an “oh fuck it, I’m just going to go”.
I. Did. Not. Want. To. Do. This. Thanks. Very. Much.
“A fucking hour?” was pretty much all I could think.
Clearly, I was completely out of my comfort zone.
So I was sitting there all awkward and hating it when suddenly monk chick started talking. She had the most beautiful melodic monk chick voice I’ve ever heard (I’ve not heard many but still, I think hers was pretty good). It was almost like singing bowls. Calm and sweet and light; washing over me and helping me to give myself (and her) a goddamn break.
I actually thought we were going to sit there and just do a full 1 hour session but it didn’t work like that. We did the initial 20mins or so and then had a little eyes open time where monk chick gave us some instructions on how to do the next meditation. It was called a meditation of taking (which sounds negative but it’s not). The idea is to imagine taking the suffering from one or many others and then let it dissipate within you. Quite the selfless task when you think about it as the meditation is about others and their happiness, not about you.
We did this meditation for the remainder of the session and I have to admit I found it really hard (according to this website this is normal and maybe even good). At the time I also felt fearful that I wouldn’t be able to dissipate the suffering and then it would be stuck within me. The fear was actually making me feel physically sick during the meditation. But that is apparently a little egotistical. You have to be pretty advanced to actually successfully take the suffering from someone else. The point is to just want to. I found it pretty hard to want to to be honest which makes me not very Buddhist at all.
All in all the hour class went really quickly and I was really surprised about this. I could definitely try a one hour session again. I also think I will try this meditation of taking again at home. After giving it some thought I decided that my resistance to it probably means that it is the one that needs the most practice. Like that muscle at the gym that you hate to exercise. It’s always the one that needs it the most.
As an aside the monk chick was pretty much the most beautiful person I have ever seen with a shaved head. I just couldn’t help but look at her the whole of eyes open time and think what on earth brought you down this path in life? And imagine if you had hair. Everyone has a story, everyone.
- Meditation Rocks. And if you think you can’t do it then this one’s for you*. (mummyflyingsolo.com)
- Meditation for dummies…or 3 things I didn’t know about meditation (mummyflyingsolo.com)