Thursday, August 23, 2018

Meditative Moments

In the last few months, I have been trying to work on areas that I previously neglected, in my yoga practice.  This is the part that deals with the mind- or rather the stilling of it.  How does one disregard the constant chatter of the mind, especially in the absence of a teacher to guide one?

For a while, I thought I would begin by looking for a suitable teacher.  This was hard to do- the last few steps in the classical yoga texts are very briefly defined, seldom do teachers go all the way (and even less do they talk about it).  It's a daunting task for both teacher and student for there is nothing tangible, no easy way to know if you have made any progress.  Or so I thought.

I began by trying to attend a meditation workshop (the only one I could find in Bangalore).  I read the person's book, then one Saturday afternoon, braving a heavy downpour that brought all traffic to a standstill, took a taxi and my google map and somehow found my way to the centre.  Braving further a hideous mosquito attack, an icy cold breeze and the butterflies in my stomach, I rang the bell, only to be greeted by a cacophony of growls and barks.  I looked to see two large dogs, one tied to each end of the gate post, leaving an area of two feet for people to walk through.  An unperturbed voice hailed me and asked me to come in.  Now, I am not afraid of dogs, having grown up with so many.  But the thought of walking through that clearing with two bristling beasts (who were unlikely to break free), was not very reassuring.  The mind plays tricks..

Anyway, it turned out that I had got the time wrong and had reached two hours ahead.  I thought it might be a good opportunity to talk to the teacher.  He did sit down for a few minutes with me, to ask about my background etc.  Then he said there was nothing I could learn from the class.  It was good I had come but I was just being lazy in not practicing on my own at home.

So.. I did attend the meditation session and reached home, seven hours after I had left it (leaving my son alone for that long a period for the first time).  Anyway, all was well- my son was making a dosa in the kitchen with my husband, and I accepted that I would find no teachers in Bangalore.

The next event that happened was the arrival of a book by Evald Flisar (a Slovenian writer) that I had ordered long ago and forgotten about.  Titled 'The Sorcerer's Apprentice', it described his experiences as a learner, initially with yoga and then tantra in the Himalayas.  It had some strange parts but was very useful at the time, in clarifying my thoughts on working without a teacher.  Evald, as an apprentice, found he could go only so far along certain paths.  He had to search for alternate options, meanings, interpretations, and try and work his way through to the end.  I believed that I would eventually find my way too.

I did not restart with any fixed aim in mind but I just decided to pick out and read again a relatively recently written book (instead of the classics) that had always appealed to me as it contained a lot of timeless wisdom written from a first hand perspective.  This is called 'The Power Of Now' and is written by Eckhart Tolle (I don't like the title, apt though it is, as it reminds me of one of those Readers Digest articles which attempt to tell you the solution to all your problems).  A subscript adds 'A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment'.  So simple!!!  (Eckhart attained stillness of mind at a moment when extreme anxiety was prompting him towards suicide.  He then spent a long time in meditative states and finally decided to write this book to answer the questions various people had been asking him.  He moves away from pre-conditioned concepts and tries to explain things the way he experienced and perceived them.  I quote a sentence from this book, which is probably the bottomline of his teaching- 'Be the ever-alert guardian of your inner space').

I found the technique I needed written very simply and clearly in this book, the hard part is to make it a part of everyday life!  But for the moment, this is enough.  I have stopped searching and begun practicing, and contrary to what I thought, I can feel the difference in myself already- the increase in equilibrium, the lowering of negativity and consequently, of anxiety and pain.

This is one of the reasons why my blog was unwritten for so long- all my energy was being directed to finding my way forward.  I believe I have taken the first step, and I hope I now have more time (at least once in a while!) for my writing and the other things I like to do.  Time will tell!

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