a four day vipassana meditation retreat.
days consisted of forty-five minutes sitting, followed by forty-five minutes of walking meditation. we were asked to refrain from acknowledging anyone we passed, keeping our energies for the intense mediation. my energy sank. in a clearing clean sense i was sinking. my thoughts were narrowing to mind and body while expanding to an awareness of my self i had never felt without drugs. so i sat. and i walked. and i sat. i sat with pain. i sat with a full belly. i sat with exhaustion and nausea.
when my adrenaline glands pained and fight or flight kicked in, my mind went to two ‘safe’ places, the psychocandy i needed when escape begged from the insight i was gaining. i would side step to amorous thoughts, not the tawdry daydreams of a boring work day, but thoughts of simple hugs, embrace, physically expressing love to almost every person in my circle of family and friends. and then i would pull back, that moment of awareness that you have drifted, and you return to the dullness of your mind. and when not expressing my cravings for touch, my mind would sing the lyrics “where is my mind?”, which competed with the church bell tower that rang-in the fifteen minute increments of our day. it echoed instruction from our moderator. it was also a lyric i had learned in high school but only utilized now. “where is my mind?”
i began to cry. daily. with the dharma talks and the shared readings, i would tear. not with sadness or fear or happiness. i smiled gently and tears fell from my eyes. and i was unafraid. everything was simply…simply beautiful? no. things were simply. and the meditation began to work my brain as illicit drugs (the good ones) and the anti-depressants will, making it impossible for me to have negative thoughts. impossible. those trigger points had faded and i cried because i simply was. by the final seating i was ready to go home convinced that nothing truly remarkable had happened.
we sat. for our final mediation guided by the sound tibetan bowls being played. and so it began. the grandiose insight of beatles songs and vermont dwellers and of course the enlightened monks of lore. at this lowest point of my energy and the height of my awareness, i become aware of my lungs. in a way i have never recognized. i feel the capacity of them, i feel the temperature inside and outside of them. i feel the moist sheath of the outside of this organ sliding against the inside of my ribs. i am so aware of this gentle rhythmic movement that i begin to expand from my chest and feel lightness in my seat. i feel my body lifting and expanding. tears fall from my eyes and my lips begin to quiver. i wonder if this is orgasmic. it is in the sense that you ride, float, trying to sink into and escape this feeling simultaneously. i weep. at the portal i have created into the mind body connection.
afterward, i am spaced. i take my friend’s arm and whisper, “something happened”. finally i understand the vacancy you see in the ‘crunchy’ people. the reality that addicts can supplement their lives with meditation and yoga instead of substances.
after a daunting highway traverse home. i take a steam shower. the sweat escapes my pores stinging like stigmata. i could feel every exit of sweat. and i moved slowly. at the grocery store, i ladled the soup for minutes, swirling lentils and beans fascinated. at home with my ‘grounding’ foods, i sank in the couch and cried for myself. cried for the most acute awareness that i finally understood why you want a partner to walk with you in this life. why you want someone to understand that you will do things that are daunting, and maybe not understand why or how, but understand that they need to do anything they can for you because when you make yourself so vulnerable, the touch of another can be the salve you need.