I’m a bit scared of water, I’ll admit it. And I’m very scared of deep water. I guess it’s a rational enough fear, though I also intellectually know that if I give myself up to the water it will hold me up. The likelihood of drowning only becomes a real problem if I tense up and fight against the buoyant feeling of floating and being carried along on the waves. If I give in to it, I’ll be fine. Everyone can float. I can float.
And so it is in meditation as it is in swimming.
Recently I’ve been dabbling with Yoga Nidra, taking a 10 week course. And I’m definitely having trouble letting go and finding my natural buoyancy. In the past I’d had some pretty horrible meditation experiences which I found disorientating and a bit freaky (and that with a professor of clinical psychology to support me!). Until very recently, then, I usually limited my meditation practice, so there was not enough time to go too far from the safe shores of familiar, more or less rational, experiences.
But even within this restriction I find for me there’s something different about meditation after āsana (as compared to just coming to the cushion ‘cold’). It feels natural, unforced — and pretty much always ‘nice’. So, yep, I’m definitely grasping after pleasurable experiences, not remaining open to whatever comes up, as my Mindfulness training taught me.
The Yoga Nidra course is encouraging me to strike out further, to let go, open up to all the feelings of fear and mistrust I have and welcome them in, having faith that there’s something there that will support me. I’m not sure if I’m ready. I’m clinging to intellectual categories of experience, wanting a map that will point the way and allow me to orientate myself, when really I know that the point is just to go on and trust that you will find the destination as you arrive there.
… … …
With the drawing of this Love and the voice of this Calling
We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
Through the unknown, unremembered gate
When the last of earth left to discover
Is that which was the beginning;
At the source of the longest river
The voice of the hidden waterfall
And the children in the apple-tree
Not known, because not looked for
But heard, half-heard, in the stillness
Between two waves of the sea.
Quick now, here, now, always–
A condition of complete simplicity
(Costing not less than everything)
And all shall be well and
All manner of thing shall be well
When the tongues of flames are in-folded
Into the crowned knot of fire
And the fire and the rose are one.
T. S. Eliot Little Gidding