Its difficult to write about ones not so perfect moments.
Like Sunday, where I found myself angrily walking out of mediation during our lunch break and not returning. That may not have been my finest moment in YTT...
The day started out great, with the whole idea of meditating for 8 hours sounding completely fantastic to me. I was walking into the gym and even a small kid pointed while saying happily, “look dad, I bet she’s going to yoga!”. I felt on cloud nine. Like yeah little kid, I AM going to yoga!!
We were at a different location then our normal Fridley LT location. So I frankly had no idea what to expect. Although now I know, I did have expectations, subconsciously. I assumed it would take place somewhere similar to our quiet yoga room with its nice curtains, full mirrors, nice smell, wood floors, cushions galore and heat. To my dismay, when I arrived at studio 2 it was nothing more then a normal work out room, cold and bare. I shrugged it off and took a seat.
We received our instructions for the next 8 hours by a new yoga teacher whom went over the guidelines for the day. No eye contact with anyone, no lying down, no speaking, no looking at phones, no sleeping…okay, thats fine, I'd like to keep it as traditional to a meditation retreat.
She went on to instruct us how to do Vipassana meditation, which consists of letting go of all thought by focusing on the breath and when the mind begins to wander (which it will always do at some point), you bring your attention back to your breath.
Then she covered the bases of a Vipassana meditators learning to recognize and overcome the five enemies of meditation:
1. Sensual desire
Stating that all of these may arise during our mediation, but it takes the continual meditation to push past it it. Even if you want to move a limb, or you begin to cramp up, remain exactly as you are as the sensation will pass. When pain arrises there will be a release, only if you let yourself continue through the practice.
Sounds easy right? I thought so…
Hour one begins. I start in a seated position, full lotus. I have my hoodie on, beanie on, feeling pretty good. Then the time starts to tick by, and my hips start to ache. I try not to move, but I hear rustling all around me from other students moving slightly. “Focus on your breathing Jen”…time ticks on. I’m dying right now it aches so much. Finally the teacher calmly states, “take 10 minutes and begin again”. I immediately lay down and begin to feel the blood flooding back into the lower half of my extremities, it feels so good I lie there for the full 10 minutes. This was hour one…
Hour two begins, I sit up and try something different. I put the soles of my feet together, maybe that will help? Time ticks by, I start to daze into myself. Its beginning to become harder to focus on my breath, if I could only feel the air movement on my upper lip like the teacher told me would help…
Body begins to ache once more, this time my sits bones are calling out for release. I begin to ebb past the pain when the teacher states again, “meet back in 10 minutes”. This time I stand up and begin to slowly pace the room, bringing some movement back into my achy joints. I start to become upset at the fact that I am here, and that during the last hour someone came in late to the room, making what seemed to be the loudest set of tip toe walking I’ve ever heard. "Don’t they know better?” I think to myself...
“Take a seat”. I take my seat again, trying to calculate the best body positioning for optimal blood flow. The best I come up with is half lotus…”Breathe in, breathe out” I tell myself on repeat when my mind begins to wander. Starting to go deeper now, I acknowledge this and move forward. My breath feels full, I feel my body start to release. Then out of no where I hear…rap music? Loud rap music instructing people to drop it low, to the floor…I hear some laughs spur softly in the room under meditative breaths. At first I find it slightly amusing, but as time ticks by and the next rap song follows after another rap song I start to loose my composure. I feel anger rising inside, “who’s idea was it to be in this facility for this, don’t they check the calendars for other classes? Why am I even here, this is a joke…” I repeat these bouts of anger inside my mind for the next 50 minutes. When I hear the teacher state “you are excused for lunch”, I am about ready to punch a wall. I can't speak to anyone as thats forbidden, so I find myself stomping away to my lunch in the locker room alone. As I grab my lunch and decide outside is the best answer for my troubles, I find the small hint of thought building, "maybe it doesn’t matter that I am here, nothing is happening anyways...". The voice instructs me not to go back. And I don’t. For the first time in the program I leave during a YTT training day.
Reflecting back and after some serious conversations with my fellow YTT members, I realized this was part of the process. If I had only stayed to work through my anger. Just as the teacher stated, I began to experience a few of the five enemies, agitation, doubt and ultimately aversion (which I took to a whole new level by just leaving completely).
My friend Toni stated it best, “I know we had expectations for this, that it would be some mind blowing experience. Frankly the room smelt like dirty socks and the music from the other room was annoying, but you know what Jen, that’s the beauty in it. I began to realize the longer I meditated that this is life. There is no perfect time or place to meditate, the whole point is to be able to block everything out regardless of it all. Life isn’t pretty Jen.”.
All I can say is you are right Toni, and I really dropped the ball on this one. But as my yoga teacher Patience says, “fall down 8 times, get up 9”.
And it’s true. One minute I think I have yoga figured out and the next it kicks me in my ass. But it was a great lesson, as it also brought to my awareness my need to quit half-assing quite a few things in this yoga lifestyle. I have yet to be 100% vegan in this program, I have found myself starting to become side tracked during my yoga meal (by checking my phone) and I frankly don’t meditate every night (*cough*, aversion *cough*).
So here I am, being humbled by the experience, ready to begin again and really give it my all for this remaining 4 weeks.
I even bought some new vegan cook books to help with my transition! So stay on the look out for some good recipes, I’ll be over here, trying not to burn my tofu, or the house down. Have I mentioned I’m not the cooking type? At least, not yet…
While I may have been knocked down, its about finding the way back up that counts :)
***Practicing my back bands during hand stand (a wall is always your friend when learning inversions!!) **