Over the years, I have dabbled with various shapes and forms of meditation, so when my beautiful meditation group with kindred spirits recently came to a close, I set about finding a new class where I could continue my meditative practice. My friend Debbie came across a class that sounded very promising on their website, with its small group size and progressive learning framework, so despite costing four times more than our previous meditation group, we decided to give the class (and poverty) a go.
Now, I have said it before and I will say it again, my beautiful step-dad always used to tell me "Never have expectations in life, then you will never be disappointed." So, if I was a dutiful daughter, I would have heeded his words and not expected to have turned up at the venue and to be taken through to some palatial and spiritual studio. But that was what I expected, so I got sorely disappointed with the reality. We stepped into a narrow hallway in the lady's home, and was promptly asked to take our shoes off, which I can only imagine, was to prevent us from getting our shoes dirty on her grubby carpet; a kind soul, this one. We then had to follow the teacher upstairs, into what should have been a bedroom, but was in fact the 'studio' that gave the appearance that either I had finally met my superior in the addictive world of decluttering, or the lady had sadly been robbed of all her worldly goods earlier that day, but due to her exceedingly high work ethic, had fought on through the apparent trauma to proceed with running tonight's meditation class. The once upon a time bedroom was just a magnolia painted room, void of all furniture bar one wicker chest, with a couple of candles burning. Not that you could really see the candles burning, due to the stark white lightbulb that was burning my retinas and enthusiasm with its brightness. Now, I know I could have looked away from the light and focused on the magnolia walls, but on and on I stared at the fluorescent bulb, partly in disbelief over its presence, but partly because I was a moth in a former life.
Picture if you will, a circle on the floor, where a folded blanket, a rolled blanket, and a cushion awaited each participant. It was like a bright purple fabric interpretation of Stonehenge in its form, but severely lacked the ambience of its Wiltshire based counterpart. I have been meditating (intermittently) for nine years, and I have only ever been seated on a chair or reclined on my bed, so this low level challenge before me was very new to me to say the least. But hey, it looked cleaner than the hallway carpet, and how hard could it really be to sit on the floor for one hour? I am down with my kids every day (as in down on the floor playing silly buggers with my children, not 'Down with the kids' yo diggety, baseball cap spun around, too cool for school, type of 'down with'). I am not sure if the discomfort I encountered was due to my spine curvature, my normal meditation poses, my age, lack of padding on my buttocks, or my shoulder injury from a freak Mini Cheddar accident earlier that day, but man alive, I was so physically uncomfortable. And this, whether you are a beginner or professional in the world of meditation, is a most unwelcome state to be in.
Anyway, being the resilient soul that I am, I carried on with the new experience before me, I sit and shuffle (and shuffle and shuffle and shuffle and shuffle and shuffle and shuffle and shuffle and shuffle and shuffle and shuffle), whilst the teacher enlightens us with her knowledge of breath work. It was an interesting piece in many ways, getting us to undertake numerous little tasks to see how emotions and movement effect our breathing. Actually, before I proceed any further, I would just like to take this opportunity to congratulate myself with my ability to bite my tongue and not challenge the teacher and her teachings. This, ladies and gentleman, is true progress in the mind (and mouth) of Shelley F. Knight. Those who know me will know that I have no filter, and if I were to have a filter, it would now be forty-one years old, so it must be somewhat similar to that of a water filter, in that it has become a little blocked over the years, so not without fault or of a great reliability in its ability to safely filter out the bad stuff. You see, the teacher told us that the average adult respiration rate (resps), the amount of breaths we take per minute, should be six. Bite your tongue, Shelley, bite your tongue. You see, whilst I am not currently in nursing practice, I do hold a not too shabby degree in adult nursing, so every now and then, I cannot help but to have little medical outbursts, where I will blurt out a fascinating nursing fact or random piece of medical terminology. So whilst the teacher said six resps, I was like a rabbit in headlights with wide open eyes (mildly burnt from the fluorescent bulb), thinking "Really?! Surely twelve to twenty would be a less life threatening average."
Anyway, tongue bitten, twelve resps taken, and on the lesson went, whereby we had to tap, slap, rub and pummel ourselves, from the soles of our feet to the top of our head. Apparently, this mild form of self-harm was to help release the fasha (or something like that), like you would if you were tenderising a piece of meat. But being as I am a somewhat queasy vegetarian, who was still struggling to comprehend the recommended low respiration rate, I was at a loss, both in my concentration span and sensation in my buttocks. I do not know if this is because I had taken off to some greater spiritual plane so I was becoming unaware of my physical body and buttocks, but I suspect that moreover it was due to having been sat on a fabric Stonehenge for the past twenty four minutes. Finally the hour passed, whereby we had listened, tapped, slapped, rubbed, pummelled, breathed (handy), burnt retinas, and even briefly meditated, and piff, paff, poof, it was over. No offers of water, tea or sustenance for our onwards journey. Nope, like the end of a Loony Tunes cartoon 'That's all Folks' and we were escorted back down into the narrow hallway to locate our abandoned shoes.
So will I be going back for more next week? Hell, yes, I have not written a blog this quickly in ages. Whilst it may not be of great benefit to my bank balance or circulatory system, it is great for releasing my fasha and writer's block.