Saturday, April 5, 2008

mindfulness and stillness: it turns out i don't really like

The meditation workshop was, shockingly, torturous. I thought a day of Buddhist mindfulness meditation would be like a tall, clear glass of water where my soul is a thirsty throat. Instead, I found it perfectly excruciating. My internal dialog was a constant barrage of "I suck at this," and when I finally found some peace in there, it was when I stopped trying for body awareness and let myself flow with the eclectic intuitive techniques I use spontaneously when I meditate on my own. It's vaguely like a hallucinogenic Tantric/Wiccan animated film with stream of consciousness poetry narration.

The insights I had were that my body is sorely, sadly neglected- my back and lungs are not even close to doing their jobs well. I can't even approximate decent posture, and my breathing is pitifully erratic and shallow. I'll never have a straight spine, but I can have a less burdened one. I also theorized that sitting meditation is artificial in the extreme; that the human body is patently unwilling to be still and quiet at the same time. I sat, still and reaching for an emptiness that would never come and longing for dance or Tai Chi or a sweaty, delicious fuck. The monk was sexy, I noticed eventually, from boredom.

It started to seem so unbelievably strange and affected and decadent almost to be human beings, sitting in a building and listening to the near-soundlessness of our own breathing. It struck me as pitiable and disturbing to be earth creatures with pulses and skin and bones and blood who have so throroughly and perfectly severed our own bodies that we have to struggle and be taught to exist peacefully "in" them.

I decided that guided meditations, or mantras and chants are far more suited to me as play for my tired brain. As for my body- sitting, which it does far more than could ever be considered healthy, is antithetical to a true celebration of physicality. Movement- the spiral dance my hips find by instinct when I let myself dance, or the pounding of my heels on pavement or the old mud path in the woods across from our property- is the key to finding home in my body. The monk can sit- he does it with grace and nobility- but I need to have moving hips and feet to find my connection to a body in time.

The day wasn't a waste, though. I'm pleased with these insights, and the messages received from my crooked, chunky body. I'm happy I made time and followed through with a gift of good rich time for myself. I also ate a great cookie with lunch afterward.

I'm cross-posting this, with brief background information, to Wabi Sabi Mamas.

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