SNORKELLING IN THE SEA OF CONSCIOUSNESS
Learning to swim was very difficult for me. All summer long I watched other girls retrieve coins from the bottom of the deep end, girls who’s blond hair had begun turning green from swimming so many laps in the chlorine laced pool. Meanwhile, I was still blowing bubbles on the surface of the water, still struggling to tread water. In fact, my first serious foray into the deep end of the pool ended up with me almost drowning. I remeber flayling, panicking. Thank goodness I was not alone and someone swam out into the middle of the pool to get me.
So, you might wonder what this story has to do with a blog about yoga and meditation? Or perhaps you can guess already where I’m going with this. Yes, when we decide to look within and do what the yogis call “atma vichara” it becomes a question of just how deep we want to go. Sometimes we’re satisfied with donning a protective mask and airtube and pressing our faces up against the water. Sometimes we go too deep at someone else’s suggestion and panic because we discover that we are not prepared and suddenly alone.
I remember our swimming instructor as a brutal dictator, repeatedly kicking away my fingers as they reached in desparation for the edge of the pool. I remember being told that I could walk my hands down the wall of the deep end. I was promised when I reached the bottom I could gently push off and be instantly propelled back up to the surface of the water. I don’t know how long I stood at the bottom of that pool, alone, waiting to float upwards. The final betrayal that summer was stepping on a dying bee as I went to fetch my towel and shoes.
I once asked my meditation teacher about how to help people who are manic depressive or have other emotional issues. His advice was that they can only meditate for a few minutes at a time. The Buddhist author Jack Kornfield actually says that some people cannot meditate at all. He related that when he was in his twenties he naively beloved he could teach patients at a mental hospital to meditate. That evidentally turned out to be a disaster. As it turns out the one’s who really needed to meditate were the super stressed out nurses, psychologists and psychiatrists.
I think it is important to try to help ourselves, take responibility for our emotional health. At the same time, I think it is unwise for those who lead our guided meditations to abandon us to total silence during the session. I think it is even worse to flit from person to person like a spiritual Santa Claus promising that we can be our own therapist, if you have no interest in checking in to see if it worked out.
What do you think? Am I overreacting? Do we all just need to toughen up? Would be interested in your answers and observations. Just in case you’re wondering, I am fine. The Zendo, as I sit alone meditating, holds no demons for me….at least not yet!
Jennifer Warren- WF1092
CIW WA 807 Up
16756 Chino Corona Rd
Corona CA 92880
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