I wrote about meditation before and how this habit has significantly improved my life. I am ever more convinced that this is a practice that has the likelihood to keep improving it. I can’t perceive a life where it isn’t present. I feel the same about yoga, but again, yoga is nothing more than meditation in motion.
I meditated more in India than in any other comparable period of time in my life. I got up before sunrise and meditated for one hour before yoga. I also had, at least, one other sit during the rest of the day.
In this trip I meditated on planes, trains, boats, buses, beds and floors. I meditated at sunrise and at sundown; in a concert and in a cave. I had 3 noteworthy moments: on a boat travelling along ‘Mother Ganga’ in Varanasi; at an orphanage in Rishikesh; and in a cave and the moments that followed.
The Boat: we got into a boat before sunrise. The weather; the rapidly changing colours; scents; and the stand-alone sound of the boat’s engine drowning all others, conspired to close my eyes and focus on my breath – the noise of the engine alone, created the conditions for a great sit by simply “eliminating” the distractions prompted by one of the senses.
I sat facing the rising sun, feeling its warmth in my face and the increasing brightness behind closed eyelids. When I later came back to notice my body sensations, my face and chest felt cold and my back warm. Anyway, I don’t know how long I sat at the prow of that boat, but it managed to change its direction without me noticing it. It was quite a shock to open my eyes and realise that not only I didn’t notice the change in path, but how much brighter everything was. I guess I had a moment of great depth… or maybe I sat asleep.
The Cave: Aaaah, the cave… let me just say that I now understand all the fuss about meditating in one. Such a space creates an even greater exclusion of the senses, allowing for a deeper meditative experience.
This particular cave is the place where a mystic, after years of a meditative hermitic life, achieved enlightenment. Some claim that this is a place where the ‘energies’ are stronger because of this and it too influences the meditative experience. That might be so and the power of suggestion is definitely strong, but at this stage, my scepticism is more so.
I entered the cave located by the river and had to grasp my way in as I was blinded by the sudden darkness. I sat, closed my eyes and conducted a slow and intentional body-scan. I found the air to be unexpectedly fresh and clean.
I kept on focusing on my breath for a while longer (again, I have no idea how long I sat there). Sitting in mediation was quite the experience, but coming out of the cave was a whole new level of internal immersion.
I left the cave wordless and made my way to the river. I stopped in my tracks as my feet felt the warm coarse sand. The heat hitting my body was in utter contrast with the cave experience. In the cave, the air was ‘cool dry water’, but standing there it was a fire that didn’t consume… it nourished! I closed my eyes and stood in ‘mountain pose’ for yet another undetermined period. Both contrasting experiences were quite unique.
The Music: the group and I had dinner at the local orphanage during which, I witnessed a beautiful display of courage. I felt an immense sense of privilege for being trusted with such an act of vulnerability, but unfortunately it is not my story to tell.
As it turns out, it happened to be the 66th birthday celebration of its founder. A surprise concert (musician friends of the birthday girl) ensued and I got to sit on the floor amongst strangers, singing in an unknown idiom and enjoying a musical meditation.
I spent most of the concert with my eyes closed, attempting to discern each and every sound coming out of the instruments. I breathed the silence between the melodic trances and felt in communion with those around me.
The songs themselves (though I could not understand a word) were quite captivating and managed to take me somewhere else; a place of good, of joy and wellbeing. More than once did I rise there, lodging on an amplified spectre of the senses. I am immensely grateful for having had this opportunity. Very, very grateful!
It is not easy explaining such experiences, nor expanding on their consequences as these are very personal and intransmissible. I lack the words to clearly describe them, but I can confidently claim that anyone who decides to take on this practice regularly (2 minutes/day every day will do), will definitely notice something. I challenge you not only to try this, but also to describe whatever is that you come across.
Easy? Not at all.
As I go deeper into my journey of self-awareness, the conflict I have been having with myself keeps exacerbating. My innate scepticism and scientific mind are at odds with some personal experiences, as well as extraordinary claims by others concerning extra-sensorial experiences.
Unfortunately, the answers I’m seeking can’t be answered by science… at least not yet. In the meantime, I will continue to rely on my experiences and keep an open-minded curiosity to others’.
This has been a great step for me: evolving from cynicism to scepticism.