Nothing happens when you meditate all day. Sweet, blissful nothing.
You go in with an agenda, because of course. You are a human being and if you're going to spend all day staring at the wall, you'd damn well better get something out of it, thank you very much.
You walk out having no idea what your agenda was or even that you had one, because you’re all pumped up on peace endorphins.
We all want the answers. We want to know that our actions will yield fruit, that our life is headed in the right direction, that we are safe.
But sometimes we have to realize that it's not time for answers. That there is absolutely no way we can take a wrong turn in life. Because there is no right path or wrong path.
My brain is already kicking in with OF COURSE THERE'S A WRONG PATH AND YOU HAVE OBVIOUSLY TAKEN IT, EVEN IF YOU'RE NOT IN THE GUTTER WITH A NEEDLE, WHICH IS ANOTHER WRONG PATH. OF WHICH THERE ARE MANY.
Why meditation can be really nice. Especially a day of it. Because, after two sittings where my brain spun mercilessly, it finally wore itself out like a three-year-old after a birthday party with Spider Man, a piñata and multiple rainbow-frosted layer cakes.
And then there was silence. My need for answers quieted. My desire to be safe quieted because I am safe. In this moment, I am always safe. My path is just my path. It just is.
My inner guidance has been prompting me to meditate two hours a day. Obviously, my brain thinks that’s bullshit, so I haven’t been doing it.
But absent other answers regarding my life, I’ve vowed to follow my internal guidance and trust it, even when it doesn’t seem logical - which, frankly, is most of the time. So when a friend invited me to a day-long meditation retreat on Sunday, it sounded like exactly what I needed. So off I went.
It was held at a beautiful home in the Oakland hills - complete with pool, mountain view, and strategically placed Buddhas - and the day was run by a man with luxurious locks of the Inigo Montoya variety. He also had a duck wing to wave the smoke of burning palo santo on us.
I admit, I did wonder where he got that duck wing. Is there a one-winged duck moping around in a field somewhere?
I also wondered how everyone else kept their lower extremities from falling asleep. I had to do the awkward attempt-to-slowly-and-subtley-stretch-my-legs-out-in-front-of-me as my feet get caught on my skirt and I almost tip over, while everyone else is a marble sphinx of enlightenment.
What I learned from a day of meditating with my body: Healing can be easy. (Except for the feet thing.)
It doesn't have to be this elaborate ritual of energy clearing and slightly-frantic prayer and lists of things I have to do daily in order to stay sane. My god, no wonder I burned out. My perfectionism even got my healing in its sticky grasp.
Sometimes, allowing ourselves to just quiet down and rest is the very best healing there is - the very best thing we can do for our brain and our body and our life.
What I learned from driving to Oakland to meditate with my body: Men I have dated are everywhere.
This is the problem with being single for a long time. At some point, people you once dated become impossible to escape. Driving to the house on Sunday, I drove past the street of one of my poor dating decisions a few months ago. (The one who yelled at me a lot, if you happen to remember that.) Then, on the table at the retreat center, I saw the face of a guy I dated years ago staring up at me from his business card. He's now, apparently, a Tantric sex coach. It was too good not to share, but we were on a silent break. It almost killed me not to wave the card in my friend's face so we could die over it together.
Your mission, should you choose to accept it: Is not to meditate two hours every day because that's still crazy talk. But do pay attention to those little nudges - the ones that are prompting you to a new habit or a new creation. They're gentle, they're quiet, but they're so very worth listening to. Listening to your intuitive nudges is the easiest way forward in this time of uncertainty and change.