December 15, 2010

Breathe In, Breathe Out, Fall in Love

emotions,meditation — alice @ 2:54 pm Print This Post  AddThis Social Bookmark Button

From: In the front hall of the Victorian house was a laminated sign that said “Shoes,” and underneath it a row of Birkenstocks and Danskos stretched along the wall. I could hear voices coming from the meditation hall upstairs, so I figured people were already finding their seats. I sat down and pulled off my motorcycle boots, wishing every object had its own little sign. If only my ex-boyfriend had worn a sign the night before that said “ex-boyfriend,” I would not have slept with him.

I crept upstairs and tried to open the door soundlessly. Inside, two dozen people were perched on pillows. They were the same kind of people you find at a bookstore — a lot of spectacles, lumpy sweaters, laptop bags. A few were still whispering, but I sensed the room was about to fall into a trance of majestic silence. So I hurried to join them.

Sitting cross-legged, my hands cupped upward, I began to struggle with the basics of Vipassana meditation, trying to pay attention to my breath as it tickled my nostrils. “Vipassana” comes from the Pali word for “insight,” but here in Cambridge, Mass., the term connotes something else — a certain East Coast, over-educated style of sitting on a pillow.

On the dais, the teacher lounged on his meditation bench in a weathered Patagonia hoodie, his gray hair tied in a knot. “For the next eight hours, you will not say a word,” he told us brightly. “Did everyone remember to bring a bag lunch?”

At that point in my life I had never attempted a full day of meditation.

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