OMPosted: June 9, 2012
I used to do yoga.
I used to do a lot of yoga. I went to Prana 5 or 6 (or 7) times per week. The 6:15am class was my favorite. I would also frequent Back Bay Yoga, since it was around the corner from our apartment. I did yoga on the living room floor. I sat in lotus pose waiting for the doctor to come into the examining room. I read the Bhagavad Gita. I tried different styles (bikram is definitely not for me). I snubbed gym yoga classes (too much focus on the physical) and I outgrew my yoga DVDs after one viewing (not enough variety).
I took my first yoga class 10 years ago. Three years ago, I moved to France for a summer to train to become a certified teacher. Last year, I took weekly pre-natal yoga classes. But last month, I couldn’t remember the last time I had been to an actual class.
In my own defense, I have tried to maintain a self practice. There is an empty studio at my gym I use in the early morning hours. I blast some Awolnation (and other non-krishna chanting tunes) on the stereo and stretch my muscles to the edge. But I’ve had to put that practice on hold for the time, and last night I jumped at a chance to hit up Back Bay. I went to a Yin class, followed by a Vinyasa class. They were lovely. I lost track of time the three plus hours I was there, and not just because I didn’t wear a watch and turned off my phone. I stopped thinking. My mind had nothing to worry about. My sister was on call in case of a child care emergency, and baby was with a competent sitter. For the first time in over 7 months, I put the to dos out of my head, and let mind follow the lead of my body.
As much as I love my solo practices, there is something beyond the educational and social fulfillment that a group yoga class provides. Its a form of spirituality. The collective OMMMMM chant at the beginning used to really weird me out. I did 12 rounds of OMs last night–3 at the start of each class, and 3 at each end. After I let my voice hum with the rest of the group, I let go of the weird feeling and enjoyed the vibration.
Meditation is all about finding that vibration and letting the wave of energy carry you from one moment to the next. As individual voices rise and fall within this great collective OM, everyone’s effort join to create one destination. It is all you can hear, feel, and see, and it wouldn’t exist without your voice.
That summer I lived in France, the training required us to sit in meditation for up to 60 minutes everyday. Even with a conservative estimate, I therefore sat in meditation for 75 hours. When I think back on that experience, I don’t remember the excruciating pain I would get from sitting cross legged on a hard pillow for hours–no. I remember only three clear moments when I hit the vibration on my own. It was so beautiful and amazing. The first time I laughed out loud with delighted surprise (which promptly lost my thread of concentration).
Meditation is like grasping at sand. If you try too hard, you’ll lose it. Such a fine balance, but in a group OM chant, the peace of meditation almost always arises in seconds. You’ll know right away if its not happening, and in my experience it is usually because my ego is too big to ignore any fear I have of seeming foolish singing out this sustained syllable. Try it, you’ll see. If you put your heart into it, your lips will tickle with the hum. You might see a flash of bright white, or colors behind your closed eyes. Your temples will tingle. But none of this matters. It only matters that you try. It is a simple way to glimpse into the rejuvenating aspect of meditation. And I’ve only really mastered it a couple of times for approximately 2 minutes all together. Imagine being one of those sages who can effortlessly slip into a meditative state. What a calm and peaceful life they must lead.
I really must work on getting to more yoga classes. I know I’m not going to be able to convince myself that I’m accomplishing much if I go back to 30 minutes of meditation morning and night…as disciplined and enlightened as it may be, there is just no way I can fit it into life right now. 3 minutes? Sure…maybe. But for now, I’ll take the 3 restorative OMs at the beginning and end of each yoga class to realign myself with the vibration of the universe.
How’s that for some Saturday night philosophy?