I meditated the other day, like several times. Granted I was attending a meditation immersion weekend, but that’s beside the point.
This wasn’t the first time I’ve meditated, but it was definitely the first time with a group of strangers and with a soft man voice guiding the way. That man voice was real as it was the voice of the man leading the weekend. We’ll call him Danny – mainly because that’s his name. He was awesome, by the way. He knows things. I guess that’s why all of us strangers paid lots of money to listen to both his voice and to his advice, or wisdom, rather.
I believe in it, meaning, I believe in the transformative power of sitting and allowing things to show up in your psyche that you didn’t realize existed or that you had forgotten were there. I believe in it because I’ve experienced how freeing it can be – to not have to hold all those things about myself deep down where no one, including myself, can see them. Over the weekend Danny helped me to believe in it even more.
The easy part was and is letting the crazy thoughts and ideas come up that I often don’t realize exist or still exist. Thoughts came up like imagining making out with the landscaping guy, and then wondering where that landscaping guy came from because we don’t have a landscaping guy and then reminding myself that it would probably be best to imagine making out with my husband and then hearing a voice gently say “listen to your breath” and remembering that I was there to meditate and not to fantasize.
Other thoughts came up too, like all the hard shit around having to adjust to job changes, budget tightening and my 10-year old son still struggling with writing. Thoughts about how I haven’t always been nice to people as well as subtle and not so subtle thoughts about wanting to control things that were not mine to control showed up A LOT. Other thoughts included some about the grief of not knowing my birth father and the pain of one day knowing that my semi-illiterate son only has 8 years before he may choose to fly the coop and pursue his "music career." Finally, thoughts about how I am not real great at relationships because I prefer to hide behind, well, my thoughts, kept creeping up as a not so fun reminder that this hiding can really affect those whom I care about most.
I say the thoughts coming up is the easy part because it’s pretty much impossible to stop them from rearing their beautiful and ugly heads. It’s not like I sit there and make them come up. They just freaking show up. In the past, I would have mentally shout out: MAKE THEM STOP. But now I say don’t. Don’t make them stop.
I went to this meditation immersion to not make them stop, but to teach myself how to stop. I went to remind myself, yet again, that I don’t have to do anything with those things that come up other than to notice them and to trust that they are showing up for a reason and then to remember to just listen to my breath. There’s the hard part. The trust part and the listening to my breath part, mainly because I often forget to even breathe. Holding my breath is my go to when things are uncomfortable.
As I reflected on the weekend, I was reminded of Moses. The story goes that Moses is in the desert and he approaches a burning bush that wasn’t actually burning up, which must have been very confusing. Sort of like my imagining a landscaping guy and realizing that we don’t have one. Anyway, God tells him to stop and to not come any closer because he is on holy ground. He then tells Moses that He is God. Moses hides his face because he is afraid to actually see God.
Meditation, I’ve learned, is my Moses-way of stopping. It is in the practice of meditating that I have the opportunity to get close enough to hear God or even myself to tell me to stop, listen to my breath and to see that I am approaching very holy ground. Most of the time I will hide my face because I am actually afraid to see God or myself, being made in the image of such.
What things like meditation immersion weekends teach me is that I can sometimes move my hands from my face to take in a glimpse and see that my internal craziness and those above mentioned and other thoughts can be quite beautiful even when they’re ugly. They are me. They are God. I don’t have to bury them quite so deep. And, when they show up, all I have to do is stop and listen to my breath. It’s so easy and so damn hard.
Something else I learned over the weekend from Danny and Moses is that being fascinated with my internal burning, not-burning bush and then stopping short because I realize I am approaching holy ground is okay. It’s also okay to be afraid and to choose to cover my face. My hands are always there to shield my eyes until I am ready to see.
Moses went on to free his people from enslavement. The difference, I think, between him and others that may have been chosen for such a life task is that he listened when God said to stop and to notice. He listened when God said to be mindful of the holy ground on which he was standing. And then he gave himself permission to cover his eyes as he trusted himself enough to know that he wasn’t quite ready to see everything. I do wonder, however, if Moses ever peaked between his fingers. I sure do hope so. If not, he definitely missed some beauty, as well as some scary shit. Either way, he did get to see the parting of the Red Sea which would have been pretty dang amazing.
Meditation, for me, is a way to learn to stop long enough to notice the holy ground. It is within that that I can make the choice to be afraid and to still lead myself out of the metaphorical hands of slavery. It gives me the opportunity to see my own Red Sea part and to learn to trust that those things that I’m afraid will come running after me will be stopped in their tracks when they see the miraculous closing of the waters. And then, I can stop, listen to my breath and keep going.
Thank you Danny, Moses and God. It was quite a weekend.
Until the next time.
Jacqueline DeSelms-Wolfe, MEd