I remember it like it was yesterday. I was blissfully sat in one of those wonderful places you stumble upon at the exactly the right moment. I was in Pai, a small town north of Chiang Mai in Thailand. It had just started to rain as is common in northern Thailand so myself and a friend jumped into the nearest café. It had low tables so you could sit on the cushions provided or swinging chairs. There was greenery and wheatgrass pots surrounding the outer rims of the room. It was dark and welcoming. We sat and drank kefir, a fermented milk which is supposed to do wonders for your digestive health. It tasted…fizzy. I knocked it back so fast my friend was speechless.
After sitting and taking in the surroundings, the chatter of other travellers, the smells coming from the kitchen, the smoothies in their variety of colours appearing to health-wishing travellers longing to repair some of the damage their wanderlust may have done. Just as we stood up to go as the rain had subsided and I’m sure a few hours had passed, I noticed everybody seemed to be walking past the kitchen and up some stairs I hadn’t noticed previously. I was intrigued to say the least. I felt drawn to this small door, which was swinging open and shut. A man noticing my curiosity looked to me and said
“We’re holding a meditation upstairs in ten minutes, it’s free”.
We both smiled enthusiastically and nervously like you do at strangers who you feel instantly warmed too. I turned to my friend who I knew was not ‘into’ meditating and immediately told her of my new plans to go. I reassured her that it would be great and she’d love it. My assurances weren’t found on anything. I didn’t know how long it would last, what it would be like or if she’d enjoy it. All I knew was that I was going.
We shuffled up the stairs I opened the door to a rather small wooden room packed with people sat cross-legged in an awkwardly formed circle. There wasn’t anything in the middle or any reason for it to be formulated this way from what I could see. But people love for things to be ordered and purposeful. We squeezed ourselves into the circle following everyone else’s lead. There were a few people murmuring but nothing audible. We waited. The man entered and the murmurs dropped. We shut our eyes and sat in whatever way felt right to us. I had my legs firmly crossed and my hands on my knees, palms facing upwards. I felt a flicker of embarrassment and nervous excitement of bringing my friend into the unknown.
The man began speaking us through and into our meditation, some music hummed quietly in the background, what I don’t remember. Suddenly rain started hammering down onto the tin roof above us. The atmosphere was set. I exhaled and felt settled. The meditation had already saved me from being caught out in the rain. My instincts hadn’t failed me. I was where I was supposed to be. During the meditation I started feeling things I’d never experienced in any meditation before. A heaviness was in my chest and seemed to be coming from the root of my stomach. It felt as though something was pushing on the top of my spine forcing me forwards. Although I was sat down I felt off balance like at any moment I was going to topple forwards. I had no control of it whatsoever. I suddenly became aware again of my surroundings that people were so crowded around me either side, if I fell I would undoubtedly knock into some other unexpecting meditators. The pressure became insurmountable in my chest, for the pressure behind me there was equal pressure in front of me. I did what I have never done during meditation, I opened my eyes. I broke the spell. But somehow I hadn’t broke the spell, my eyes were open, I felt slightly more balanced but the presence on the back and front of my chest was still present. I felt more in control. I re-shut my eyes. I drifted through the end of the meditation.
When it was over the man invited us to share our experiences. Everyone looked down. One guy asked a question about his experience. I felt a wave of terror come over me. I had to share my experience. I needed an answer. I nervously explained what I had been feeling during the meditation, the mans’ eyes glinted with intrigue. The girl next to me explained she had been feeling the exact same pressure and the only way she could cope was to open her eyes. I felt connected, relieved and fascinated all at the same time. The man couldn’t give me an explanation. Of course not. But it said that it could be a sign of being so fully out of your body that it seems you’ve lost control. I know from other meditations how my heart chakra can become a sticking point. It felt like that had been released.
One of the things that has made this experience stick with me so much is about what he finished our time in that room by talking about. Here is what I took away with me and what I invite you to think about next time you meditate or next time your feeling reflective – Continuity is nothing but an illusion, there is no continuous time, there is only the present moment and every time you reflect on the present moment its gone, its constantly changing and moving you cannot stop the time. Having attachments it’s an effect of the illusion of continuity. Once you accept that time is ever-changing time is timeless, you will not become attached to this moment, this time in the future, this thing in the past. All that there is, is now. Have no resistance to the flow of time and feel no attachment. Only then is the illusion of continuity broken. It felt as though the rain had took me there, kept me there and ensured that I had that experience and heard his message.
Every day I try and remind myself to be in the moment. For me what that surmounts to is basically just asking myself what is happening today? What is my focus, where am I, who am I with, what is happening in this moment, whose around me, what can I alter today? These small things help me try and stay in the present and recognise the beauty of whatever day i’m currently in. I hope you can do the same.