Meditation and Self-Discovery: From Confusion to Stillness
I always felt drawn to meditation and did it for years, even though it felt like torture at first. If someone had told me when I was 20 that I would end up as this person who spends majority of her time doing spiritual practices, meditating for an hour at a time, and going to meditation retreats where we don’t speak for several days at a time; I would have told you that you were nuts or likely delusional. Even more so, if someone said to me that I would equally love all of it with every ounce of my being and regard it as my most significant life‘s passion and purpose, I would have probably fainted.
The Essence of Meditation
Meditation is silence. A non-attachment to thought. A blank space. It is the opposite of frazzledness and distraction. It puts me into contact with my higher Self, that Self that is the stillness beyond thoughts, a place of infinite comfort and love.
The Journey from Restlessness to Stillness
In meditation, in that place of stillness, we see the truth that we are all one. Meditation is love, love of yourself, and this is the most precious gift any human can give to oneself. It’s about stopping, pausing, being quiet, and breathing. The practice of meditation is so simple yet so unattainable and scary for so many. And I get it; sitting still and being quiet was once terrifying to me too.
Tracing the Roots: Acting Class and Recovery
From my teens up until I was 26, the only thing I cared about was being out late at night and drinking and doing drugs. I first had moments of stillness and relaxation during acting classes at NYU Tisch School of the Arts where I went for my undergraduate degree. Our teacher, Marketa Kimbrell, would ask us to lie down on the floor and guide us through a traditional body scan, asking us to relax each part of the body. This was in 1992, so of course, no one really had a clue what our teacher was doing. I guessed the idea was that we would relax our bodies to be better in touch with our bodies and ourselves while acting. This is what I looked forward to most in each class. To this day, her class is my favorite class, and she is my favorite teacher I ever had in school.
The Revelations and the Deepening Practice
Years later, in early recovery and my first yoga class, we would lay down in savasana, and I would receive a similar feeling. This feeling is why I came back to yoga day after day. It was here that yoga started working for me.
Once you touch that place of stillness, you need it back. A door opens to something most of us never knew was there. Moments such as these become instilled in your unconscious and subconscious mind, and for me, they were the seeds for my soul’s unconscious agenda to seek more awakening and more stillness. Since it was never a plan that I consciously set out to do, I can’t find any other logical reason why I spent all this time doing yoga and then meditation and now pranayama. But yoga was the first gateway to getting to know my soul.
The Mysterious Origin of My Meditation Practice
When I look back and try to remember how I even came to try meditation, I really don’t even know how it all started. The early days of recovery were foggy, and just like my childhood, I don’t remember many details. It was all about survival, so the mind didn’t have much space for remembering these moments. I do, however, remember the words “a moment of silence for the alcoholic who still suffers” when we gathered in a circle and held hands and said the serenity prayer. There was a moment of connection and a moment of stillness, a slight pause in my incessant endless fragmented thought stream. I looked forward to this moment at each meeting. In AA, we are taught in Step 11 to seek “through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, as we understood him.” After hearing those words repeatedly and going to hundreds of meetings, the idea of meditation suddenly didn’t seem so foreign or strange to me anymore.
The Struggles and Rewards of Early Meditation
In the beginning, I remember meditating and sitting there with a timer set for one minute, and it was excruciating. I would read from the AA Big Book and then meditate for a minute. The minute felt like an hour, and it felt like someone was massaging me with sandpaper. And even though it was only one minute at the beginning of the day and one minute at the end of the day, it made a huge difference. It made me feel more connected and that there was an underlying energy supporting me throughout the day. It made me feel like I book-ended my day as if there were a beginning and an end, and because of that, I felt more grounded than I ever had before.
The Moment of Epiphany: Discovering the Yoga Sutras
A few years later, I was sitting on a park bench in a park on West Side Highway in NYC, and I had just purchased a copy of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras. I read the words “Citta Vritti Narodaha” which translates to: yoga is the cessation of the fluctuations of the mind.
At that moment, it was as if the world stood still for a split second and what I never knew I had been looking for was in those words. I read those words in the late spring of 2004, and before then, I never knew that it was possible one could somehow slow down or stop the fluctuations of the mind. In hindsight, it was as if a light switch had turned on in my soul, and somehow, I knew which direction I should go. Shortly after, piece by piece, I began to understand what it meant to live with the experience of being free from fluctuations of the mind.
Awakening to Present Moments and Further Growth
A couple of years later, I had another moment when I was changing the diaper on my little newborn daughter, and I was thinking about a million other things than actually changing her diaper. At that moment, I had a deep primal urge to be present. I no longer wanted to be outside of the moment. I wanted to be inside of the moment: each and every single one of them. In the exact moment as a baby, the same moment as a horse or a bird.
Each of my moments up until then were filled with resentments and blame and upset and worry. Each moment a waste. And I guess, without even knowing it, meditation has become my subconscious plan to fulfill this deep primal urge.
The Accumulated Wisdom: No Turning Back
It took me 15 years to get to where I am today—a place where I have seen and felt something.
Once you get to this place, there is no turning back. Underneath all the thoughts and all the mind chatter lies the underlying energy that holds us all. A door that never closes. Once you feel the door of grace open, there is no turning back. You can only go deeper and deeper on the path of your spiritual journey.
Now, it is how I live my life. My mind chatter’s speed has slowed down to turtle speed, where it was once a galloping horse on a race track going around at full speed ahead.
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