So every time I go babysit in Laurelhurst I pass a place that advertises on a big blue banner, “MEDITATION CLASS! FREE! TUESDAY 7PM!” One evening on a particularly stressful Tuesday (read: Italian Consulate hates me) I thought it might be fun to try it out. After all, it was free. What did I have to lose, right? So I called my roommate Charli and she agreed to accompany me. I needed a buddy just in case it was weird/awkward/boring. Unsure as to the rigor of the class, (I’ve never been to a meditation class, yoga sure, but just meditation?) I thought it would be wise to suit up. I donned my stretchy yoga pants and we took off.
We arrived about ten minutes early and found ourselves with a few other newbies sitting in the waiting room until the previous class had ended. Soon we were led into the meditation room by a portly fellow in his 50s. There were probably about ten or eleven people in the room; some were sitting on pillows and others were in chairs. There was a tv set up in the front and a table on the side with framed photos of ‘adepts,’ people who had mastered the meditation we were going to do.
The class started with the main guy telling us that it was important to connect with the higher being and to repreat the name of our god repeatedly to help calm us. And then he left us with the phrase, “And now the first thirty minutes of class will be dedicated to silent meditation.” He turned out the lights and left us to our own silent, unmoving devices.
I guess I hadn’t thought about the fact that my experience with meditation had all been guided meditation. I had never really considered the idea of sitting in silence, trying not to move, trying to clear away all the thoughts in my head. At first I tried, I really did. I tried not to move, I tried to breathe and repeat, but soon enough Sheryl Crow got stuck in my head. Eventually I couldn’t sit still so I leaned my head against the wall…I woke up fifteen minutes later with my mouth hanging open. I drifted in and out of sleep for a few more minutes, periodically jarring awake and re-closing my mouth. Any hope of actual meditation was gone. At one point I couldn’t feel my arms and got kind of excited that maybe I was being raised to some plane of nirvana. However, it was really that my arms had fallen asleep.
The lights finally were flipped on and the leader read some passage about self-deception for ten minutes. And then they fiddled with the dvd player for ten minutes. By that time, two of the other girls who had come to check it out had snuck out. Unfortunately for me and Charli, our purses were across the room. Five minutes into a dvd of some guy lecturing about meditation and Charli and I braved the cynical looks of the avid meditators and left.
Although we didn’t have any kind of revelation or even stay for the whole class (2 hours is a little excessive if you ask me), I was glad we went. It was an adventure, and we both tried something new. For free!
And that, my friends, was our meditation misadventure.