Saturday, 5 February 2011

Meditation and cake

I went to a meditation class today which runs once a month at our shala - after meaning to do it for ages (but always forgetting, or being busy the day it was on) a chance conversation over breakfast meant that I went along with two friends to the second class of the year.
I'm always a little scared of the idea of meditation classes, feeling like the urge to run screaming from the room is going to arise approximately six and a half minutes into a two hour class - but at the same time I have been feeling the desire for ages now to learn more techniques and to make the time and space to sit.
With mats arranged around the room facing into the centre (having come in late) I found myself beside the teacher, an older German (I think) lady with beautifully coloured hair, a white outfit accessorised with fabulously blingy heart-shaped earrings and a soft sing-song accent.  Before we began she spoke a little about meditation, and I loved what she said (I'm paraphrasing...):
Don't let enlightenment be your goal. Sure, if you really want to then by all mean go for it, But for me, meditation is about learning to cope better with daily life without being thrown off course by the things that come our way. And also to be able to make other people's lives a little better by the way I interact with them.
She also spoke about just building in time throughout your day to sit, don't think about extended periods as finding several spots of time to sit for 5 or 10 minutes through the day can be really powerful. Something which made immediate sense to me was when she described her day as rushing here and there, teaching morning, lunchtime and evening classes meaning that she comes home a lot during the day - and immediately that she closes the door and feels relived to be home, she feels more demands on her time. Given my new work situation which means that I am working from home, going out to see people and coming and going quite a lot,  I realised immediately that when I get home from a halfday trekking around and am exhausted, sitting straight down at my computer to catch up on all of the emails that have accumulated while I've been gone is maybe not the most productive approach. Instead, if I take the time to sit just for 5 minutes before I stick the kettle on and head for my desk, I'll most likely find I feel more refreshed and less pressured than I do right now. So far so good.
We then lay on our stomach, becoming aware of our breathing, before spending some time in childs pose, again putting awareness into our breath, and then moving through some gentle seated stretches to prepare us for sitting. All the while she spoke in her lovely soft way, encouraging us to concentrate on our breathing, and making everything seem incredibly accessible and taking away the mystery. Halfway through the 2 hours she suggested a bathroom or water break before we moved on to the sitting portion of the class, and even though I know I can do it I felt some anxiety when she said we would sit for 5 minutes at a time - it sounds like such a long time to just sit! But of course it is more than doable, I can sit happily for almost 15 minutes and do so every Friday after our Led class, so this is very much a case of my conscious mind trying to tell me I'm not capable of something which I absolutely am.
As we neared the end of the class I found myself feeling very sleepy, and when given the option to lie down I was there and wrapped in my blanket in no time at all. After a very heavy feeling savasana where I completely forgot where I was, the class ended with her suggesting we might like to stay for tea and cake. How much more perfect could this be!
Feeling very chilled and more than a little spacey, J, A and I shared green tea and cake before heading off for an early dinner at our favourite veggie cafe. It felt rather strange to emerge from Yoga Place into the darkness, instead of arriving in the dark and leaving in daylight, but seeing the sun set in the shala as opposed to seeing it rise was a lovely and welcome change. The next month's class will be when I am away but I'm definitely looking forward to attending more of these classes over the coming year, and am already feeling inspired to take time to sit on a regular basis. What a wonderful way to spend Saturday afternoon!
My bedroom windowsill (complete with gifts from Susananda and The reluctant ashtangi!)

1 comment:

  1. Jiddu Krishnamurti telling a joke...

    “There are three monks, who had been sitting in deep meditation for many years amidst the Himalayan snow peaks, never speaking a word, in utter silence. One morning, one of the three suddenly speaks up and says, ‘What a lovely morning this is.’ And he falls silent again. Five years of silence pass, when all at once the second monk speaks up and says, ‘But we could do with some rain.’ There is silence among them for another five years, when suddenly the third monk says, ‘Why can’t you two stop chattering?”