Five months ago I began meditating. Like most things I do, I jumped in with both feet knowing nothing of the craft. "I will learn as I go," I told myself and what an education I received. Like any novice, I was clearly out of my element. The idea was to focus and free my mind-to let go of all distractions, but my mind strayed like an unleashed hound on a scent trail. I was determined though and kept going. With each meditation, I got one small fraction closer to something. However, I had no idea of what~inner peace perhaps or the deepest form of reflection I have encountered. Whatever the case, things began to happen. I soon realized there was a significant amount to learn and experience about myself, my life and other people through meditation.
I didn't really know of anyone who meditated personally, so I found myself standing alone with an array of unanswered questions. I turned to the only inanimate object I knew which couldn't judge me for what I was about to imply had happened to me during my first group meditation..."Google." Even with that, as I typed my question in the search engine, I typed...erased... typed...and erased again. In an effort to sound somewhat rational even for Google, as if my computer would laugh in my face, I tried to keep it simple. This is what I came up with, "I left my body during meditation."
With trepidation, I hit the search button. To my surprise there was an ominous number of "hits" in which I learned one of the goals of meditation is to reach this level of consciousness. To actually leave your physical body, no longer feeling the confines of your flesh and bones.
It's called Astral Projection.
So here I was, not crazy, no longer doubting myself and now wondering, "Does this mean I can actually go somewhere?" In my first and only experience thus far with Astral Projection, I hovered just above my head, However, I was still tethered to my body. For this reason I continued to meditate, but not gracefully. It is an art to be learned, like an education which can take years to master. I am still a novice. Even more profound, I had also had a "visitor." A spiritual guide. Trust me, even I cannot get my head around this! I don't have to. I merely have to keep going and learning through my experience. I don't have to convince anyone of my findings, and even this blog will leave you in question, but that's what life is, our~own~separate~journey. This is mine...
Today I visited a Hindu Temple. I have never been to one before, but there is one in my area. It sits in the middle of acres and acres of corn fields. It's crazy. I had never noticed it or heard about it, until one day I happened to be driving down the freeway and saw it off in the distance. The structure was as familiar to me as boarding a UFO. I asked myself out loud, "What in the hell is that thing?" It was unmistakable, however, only from pictures I had seen in National Geographic or from movies, not here in my home town or even close. I knew when the time was right I would have to find out more about this beacon!
Today is April 22, 2012 nearly a year or maybe more since my initial discovery and declaration. A friend of mine had toured the Temple just the day before, which was my final stepping stone on the path I took to get there today. They were offering a meditation and Sanskrit teaching after their Sunday services. I sounded so brave when I announced to my friends I was going, but inside I was intimidated. The unknown is sometimes the worst and single biggest hurdle we face.
"I am on a spiritual journey!" I declared to myself and off I went...alone.
Even as I sat in my car and watched the people coming and going, I wanted to turn back. They were not like me. They didn't look like me. I was afraid of not belonging, not knowing jack about Hinduism or the culture. Can I look at them and smile? I was wearing yoga pants and a plain white slightly fitted Henley shirt with a tank top underneath. Am I dressed appropriately to honor the other women and their husbands? Is my shirt long enough to cover my butt crack if I am on the floor in a meditative pose? Again I was reminded I am only a rookie here, a speck of dust in a galaxy of cosmic intertwined mystery. "Joanne, you will be pissed at yourself if you drive away. Go in!"
The building is quite large. I was the only white person in the building. I felt like an ant in a brigade of elephants. I wanted to stick my head in a hole and disappear. As expected my clothing was much different than the other women. I was acutely aware of my body, my womanly form seemed so apparent in my clothing even in my effort to not stand out, I felt naked; mind, body and soul exposed.
I went in and took a seat in the middle of 100 open chairs. The class consisted of me and four other men, one of them being the teacher. At this point, I'm absolutely positive I've made better decisions after several drinks, but there was no way out. We all sat in a very small circle and I listened to the men share their meditation rituals, frustrations, distractions and successes. Then they looked at me wanting to know where I was and how I was doing. Feeling a bit more open after hearing what they said, my body started to unfold, my crossed arms and legs relaxed. I shared my experience which was more in line with what the teacher has experienced through his meditation. The teacher sensed my apprehension and told me I was safe there to share anything. When I was done, he asked,
"Did I invite you here today?" (knowing he hadn't)
"No." I replied.
"Everything I have been teaching these past few weeks has happened to you. Now, here you are...I could tell you all what a mango tastes like, but only through your own experience will you ever truly know. Joanne, it is a blessing you are here." We closed our meeting by meditating in the only room left available which was quiet. It was a very small utility room. Clearly my limits as the only woman, were being tested. We weren't meant to be in this room, but every room in the Temple was occupied by someone praying. We walked passed the Temple on our way. It was a sight to behold! I've never seen anything like it! The utility room on the other hand was cramped with only enough room to fit six chairs, us five plus one extra for the teacher's wife who decided to join us. A relief of pressure so great it can only be compared to that final push during childbirth when your baby is finally born.
I was anxious to meditate in a group again to see if I could "project" once more. I did not. However, this time I saw the most amazing colors which started with emerald green and sapphire blue intermingling around each other in a tantric dance of waves swirling in and out of each other, then finally settling in on a brilliant magenta. Again, something I have never experienced. So many things which had been weighing on my mind were answered and I was reminded that all things: a recent relationship, new friendships, and a new state of mind had all led me right here today. I understood it all and why I had to move on from some of it and embrace the other. One tear slipped through my eye lid and slowly came to rest on my check. I closed my eyes tighter so as not to start crying.
We truly are spiritual beings living the human experience as I was taught today. All things perceived as good or bad are for our growth as painful or as joyful as that may be.