Hmm.. i just had a flashback…a long long time ago, in a high school far far away.. I had a entrepreneurial studies teacher that practiced palm reading. She took a liking to me and one day read my palm (free of charge).
At the time I was getting into the usual teenage trouble, smoking, drinking, etc. while already feeling the pangs of an existential angst. She foretold that sometime in my mid twenties, there would be a major turning point in my life. If I chose to go somewhere I would forge an entirely new path for myself, while the decision to not go would keep me stuck in a cycle of poor habits and negativity resulting in an early demise.
For some reason this stuck in my head. I’m sure she didn’t word it exactly like that, and I’m also sure that the same thing could have been “foretold” to just about anyone in that age group that had a pulse and a life line on their hand. Regardless, in a world that may indeed be meaningless, we must create meaning… and so what was the significance of this “prophecy”? Is it possible that after all these years I could look back and define the moment when this choice took place?
I believe I can…
About 6 years ago, while on a bus reading some book on Eastern Philosophy..maybe it was something about ZEN??.. I hit a brick wall of frustration. Up to that point I had inhaled what seemed to be about a million books on enlightenment/spirituality, desperate to find answers and find meaning. While my ego enjoyed a large portion of the material (which funnily enough was about often about extinguishing the ego), I didn’t feel any different. I didn’t feel more spiritual or more evolved..everything remained the same. Meanwhile the content of the books themselves kept contradicting themselves, although some noted that with meditation these contradictions ceased to be contradictions. However, that wasn’t my experience with the little bit of meditation that I had experimented with.
So, I just gave up on the book with the urge to just chuck it out the window, but that was the moment where the CHOICE was made…
I’m going to go on a vipassana meditation retreat.
A friend of mine at the time had been telling me about this retreat that her aunt has been going to for years that was like a bootcamp for meditators and that it completely changed her life and she goes back every year. So I read all the rules, did my homework and applied for the very next course I could.
I was accepted.
In a span of 10 days of looking inwards, I underwent a profound change. These changes came about by themselves.. there was no conscious intention, no forcing them, they just happened. Some of them flew under my radar for quite a while, but certain things were noticed by those close to me (these changes were for the better, I was pleased to find out).
It was one of the most rewarding and illuminating experiences in my life. But it wasn’t all fun and games as at the same time this retreat was one of the most difficult things I had ever done.. I was racked with doubt, confusion, skepticism with painful physical and emotional issues rising to the surface on the regular. It was a constant teeter totter between moments of intense bliss and moments of fear and anxiety.
So here I am.. about six years, numerous retreats later (yes, I kept going back) recalling a high school incident and reflecting on a choice that I feel was instrumental in leading me on my path towards yoga, insight, self discovery and compassion. In fact, if all goes well, I will be leaving on my next retreat this Wednesday!
While, I could go on for days about the meditation practice itself, about its history and philosophy.. it might be far more beneficial for those interested to click on the following links and think about taking that plunge into a retreat experience for the first time or for the next time…
as I told my mentor yoga teacher.. i’ll tell you all about my “non experiences” when I get back
may all beings be happy!