Light in the dark

It takes seconds for the children to fall asleep. Their mother, however, lies awake in the darkness, unwilling to let go off what is Yesterday, unable to dive fearlessly into Tomorrow.

Every night the same mental drama plays out; the minute the lights go off, the screen of my mind begins throwing up images I don’t want to see. Then, a few days ago, I decided to do something about it. I sat up in bed, my comforter still around my legs, and began my favourite meditation, a unique blend of a technique I’d read in How God Changes Your Brain and the one used in Vipassana.

It is simple enough. I count 20 breaths focusing on my nose, the next 20 focusing on my chest, and then another 20 focusing on my abdomen. Then I bring my focus back up the same route.

In addition to just counting my breath, though, I also observe all sensations happening in and around the area I am focusing on. So if I am focusing on my chest, for instance, I not only observe it going up and down with each breath, but I also observe all the other feelings around the area of my heart — murmurs of longing, squeezes of regret, flutters of fear. Of course, I’m just imagining emotions for these sensations. In reality, they are just sensations, and need no classification. We are simply to observe them, says Vipassana guru S.N. Goenka, without attachment or repulsion, and allow them to just be. By doing so, we automatically release them – and ourselves.

The count of 20 is my own innovation, because I am unable to focus without a crutch. Even with this count, the mind wanders fiendishly! But the count keeps me anchored, and brings me back to my breath every time thoughts assault.

Eventually, things begin to happen. It is my typical meditation pattern, and I go into a trance. I don’t know if this is the right way or wrong; I just go with it. Eventually, it always leaves me feeling light, free and at peace, as if I have shed a great burden. 

An hour later, I flopped back into bed and fell asleep. That night, I dreamt a terribly sad dream of having lost a loved one, and cried through most of it, my heart choked up and my tears continuously flowing. In the morning, I reflected on the dream, and realised – it wasn’t about the literal fear of losing someone. It was about the grief within me, which needed a vent. The meditation and subsequent dream released it.  

But there is yet a long way to go, lots more emotions untapped and waiting to exhale… I’m trying, I’m trying.


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