On Mondays, I have been attending a beginning meditation class with two friends. I committed to taking the class before this challenge and although I took the same class a year ago, it’s been a wonderful reminder of things too easily forgotten in the calamity of life. I feel especially blessed to be participating in Sharon’s challenge on my own while simultaneously accompanying good friends in what I hope will become a lifelong journey for them.
I normally sit alone in the early morning darkness with just a hint of light in the room. On Mondays though, the room is full of (mostly) strangers who sit in silence for thirty minutes at the beginning of class. Last week, I noticed some anxiety upon trying to settle in. It wasn’t the first time. In fact, it happens pretty consistently when I find myself sitting with others. At first, I couldn’t figure out why I couldn’t relax into the rhythm of my breathing. I found myself taking deeper and deeper breaths, feeling as though I couldn’t catch it. It felt as though I had traveled to a higher altitude, that unsettling place of breathlessness.
Then I realized it was because I was still in ‘cop mode,’ hyper vigilant and still coming down from my day. I wasn’t sitting with my back to the wall with the door in sight, scanning the room every few minutes. I was sitting with my eyes closed in a room full of people I didn’t know and asking myself to let go of years of training and trust the space around me filled with unfamiliar faces. It’s a downside to the job, learning to read people at a distance and making quick judgments as to their intention and character. After a while, you get really good at it. Sometimes you are just flat wrong.
I work pretty hard at trying to separate my work from my life but the two are often inextricably intertwined. For some people, that intersection is the site of unending collisions that leave emotional debris everywhere. Learning to meditate, to lean into the calmness of mindful meditation has given me access to an internal GPS. It has allowed me to set a ‘home’ button, one that is accessed in the simple act of breathing.