Let's be clear though. Not the Yoga Journal pure rainbows and sunshine kind of inner revelations, spotless and brimming with insight, boundless goodwill radiating like high beams out of my crown chakra toward all humankind.
The large majority of my experience was, during the actual hours and hours of sitting in a cushion (and eventually chair to show some love to my creaking knees), quite awful. And, ultimately, revealed to me layers of myself that I've never had the luxury and horror at times to examine this closely, this profoundly. (And, after reading about these tiny gems and gallons of gunk I dug up during this lotus pond of an excavation experiment of my own psyche and spirit, it will be an interesting part 2 to the experiment to see if you continue to read my blog!
From 6 am until 9 pm, we alternated between 45-minute sitting and walking meditation sessions, during which time one of our teachers offered a particular technique that we could either try on in the dressing room of our psyche or toss to the side. "Focus on the sensation of breath right at the tip of the nostril." "Listen to the sound of every inhalation and exhalation." "Notice the sensations of touch on the skin, the sunlight, the beads of sweat, the gentle tickling of ants." Inside that mental dressing room, my inner adolescent grimaced with singeing indignation, thinking profoundly unkind thoughts to our lovely, benevolent program assistants, shredding the fabric of every technique wafted over us in Wagnerian softspeak. The only mantra that succeeded in sticking in my brain on day one: "This is fucking bullshit."
Our meals were very sparce, a light fast of sorts for the three days. Day two dinner was a thin brothed pumpkin soup and when I showed up to the kitchen, exhausted, depleted and hungry, I nearly lost it.
But something began to shift. In the hours of sitting, being, letting go, clinging to what I thought I needed then watching life continue, some seeds of inner alchemy were being planted, despite myself and my inner tantrums. (Perhaps, in fact, blessed by them!)
This morning during personal sadhana in the early morning, I found myself loving the 20 minutes of meditation I took at the end of practice. Showing up, being still, being in relationship with ALL of it: The pissy teenager in the dressing room, rolling her eyes and cursing the world at the absurdity of it all, and the wise woman who smiles and sits through those tidal waves of resistance to watch the tiniest sprigs of green begin to pop through the soil of the heart. This is what it means to practice. This is what it means to show up.