Back in July, I took a trip to LA to see Tansy’s puppy raisers. That needs a post of its very own. But one thing I did while I was there was go to a meditation class. I have learned that I have to reevaluate my previous assessment of meditation.
I think part of it was the guy teaching this class didn’t sound like a walking contradiction. I did find it hard to put my body in the positions he asked me to, but it wasn’t impossible. And maybe I’ve settled down some, because I didn’t find all the stuff he was saying to be so ridiculous. I was also finding it harder to breathe deeply like I used to. Should I be worried?
It must have worked better for me this time, because I had a really weird experience. One of the exercises was called Tonglen, or giving and receiving. It was all about empathizing with other people’s pain, and trying to give healing energy. First, he had us picture our mothers, then our immediate families, then friends, then broaden out to acquaintances. As I did this, I started picturing rooms with people in them. At first, it was my folks’ house, then my grandma’s basement, then a bigger room where you might have a wedding reception. There was music, clinking glasses, and people mingling, asking each other how they knew me. Some of them said they were doing well, others not so much.
Then it got weird. He asked us to extend our healing out to all of the neighbourhood, then South Bay, then up the coast and across the United States and around the world. Keep in mind this was early July, when there were a lot of police shootings and shootings of police and protests. Suddenly, it was all too much. I saw blood, death, screaming, grieving families, little kids asking where’s Daddy…bombings all over the world, anger and grief being expressed in all kinds of different languages and in different ways, and I started to cry. He must have seen this, because he said if it was too much, go back to picturing our mothers. But the freight train had been set in motion, and I couldn’t stop. Silently, the tears came down. Tansy’s poor puppy raiser must have wondered what was wrong with me, but she just silently handed me a Kleenex. Finally, and only when I was ready, I stopped crying.
So yeah. Maybe there’s something to this meditation thing. That was definitely a more powerful experience than what I had the first time I tried it.