Life is relentless.
But there are signs in life to slow down. Not yellow signs, or stop signs, but much more subtle ones that you need to really pay attention to otherwise they can be dismissed as nothing. My sign was a special meditation session that the yoga studio I go to got a spot on the tour of Swami Ken. I’m so not the kind of person who is into the spiritual side of yoga. I enjoy it for the muscle sculpting, the stretching, and the peacefulness that comes from spending a hour focusing on only what’s happening on the yoga mat. There are a few classes at my studio that are more meditation or chanting centric, but I usually stick to the intermediate level yoga where I can work on improving my chaturanga which in turn makes the triceps strong.
But this time I wanted to go to a class that I knew would offer no “real” exercise benefits, that would consist of just sitting. For an hour. Doing nothing. All Sunday I wavered on if I would go or not, and the cards even seemed to stack against me after getting that epic sunburn on my back. But a thought in the back of my mind kept pushing me to go to it. Just go, it’s only an hour, my mind kept saying. I think something inside me wanted this class to set something free in me, to make me change my way of thinking and maybe quit everything in life to devote to meditation and the rest would take care of itself.
After getting there to a surprisingly full parking lot, I walked into the studio and saw people lined up all around the walls. It took me aback for a moment because the most people that I’ve ever seen in there at once was maybe 10, tops, but at least 30 people also came out that night seeking something. There were younger people who like me, were dressed in the same attire we’d wear for a usual yoga class; there were people in full on Hindi regalia. I found a place along the wall and sat down on the Mexican blanket I’d been handed. Then in walked a man who could be none other than a swami. Even if you had no idea what a swami was, you’d KNOW this was him.
He sat down and his two helper guys began telling his story which was actually pretty interesting. Swami Ken used to work at IBM as a graphic designer. He was just a guy with a job that he went to day in and day out until he one day decided to throw it all aside to pursue meditation. Of course, the logistics of how one actually goes about doing such a thing weren’t explained, but those are the nitty gritty details that I wish people would share when they talk about their big life changing moments. It’s more than the last time they walk out of the door at their corporate job, it’s about what they did to ensure they wouldn’t be homeless if something went wrong.
Anyway, so the helpers took this dust and walked around to each person and pressed a scant amount in the spot between our eyes, which was “opening our third eye.” It was the spot we were supposed to focus all of our concentration as we meditated. Then we were instructed to sit, quietly with our eyes closed, and to try and not think. For an hour.
It wasn’t interested enough to detail out, but suffice to say I wasn’t able to turn off my brain for the whole time. I don’t think it was a total waste of time though because it was an hour to do nothing. It’s so hard to do nothing when there’s constantly things to be done. So it’s exactly what I needed in that sense.
No matter one’s thoughts on yoga, spirituality or anything like that, meditation every once in a while can be a cleansing way to quiet your mind or just to enjoy pure nothingness for an hour. It’s hard to do, and I could never do the hour a day that Swami Ken recommends, but I am going to try and incorporate more time for nothing into my life. It’s easy to get overwhelmed, and nothing makes it worse more than letting the stress topple over and crush you. Relent, and let yourself have the time you need to heal your mind.