My meditation teacher gave the analogy tonight of going half way up a mountain, taking in the view and thinking that means you know what it’s like at the top.
Remember that Spin Doctors song from the early 90s? Little Miss Can’t Be Wrong. I was a young teen at the time and I can remember my mum saying it could have been about me.
Back when I was a teen I, like I’m sure almost everyone, was almost entirely mind-identified. I had no concept of the idea that my circumstances and my image were not all of me. I was a clever girl. Life – acceptable life – was easy. I got most things right without much effort. I was so used to getting things right that I had no coping mechanism for when things went wrong. If I was criticised or if I failed. To me at that age such things would have been unthinkable, so I went to all lengths to avoid them.
Which pretty much meant I went to no lengths at all. I stayed safe. I stayed quiet. I assessed situations for risk of humiliation and made sure that at all times I sat strictly within the limits of acceptable. As a result, I got quietly confident on shaky ground (pillars of sand, anyone?). I was smart. I aced exams, boys liked me and, all things considered,I aced teenage life.
My sharp little mind consistently cast its busyness ahead, assuredly assessing and categorising the future. Forever a quick learner, once I’d been to one party I knew parties. I knew to reveal the right amount of flesh, I knew not to drink too much, I knew to let people approach me.
I knew, I knew, I knew.
So here I am, 20 years later, at tonight’s meditation class. A couple of years ago when I started to meditate, my breath consciousness showed me waves and colours. They swept around my torso, thrilled me, scared me, showed me myself and pushed me into the truer life I live now. Except now I’m in a different class where the focus is all about mindfulness and simplicity, I am still looking for my coloured waves. For me, without my coloured waves, I wasn’t really ‘doing’ meditation. I had decided what meditation was. WHERE WERE MY COLOURED WAVES? I better get making my coloured waves. I had decided what meditation was. Before it happened, I knew.
You know, I think my coloured waves are valid. I think they just happen as a result of meditation sometimes. But I am always so, so keen to recreate them. My mind was like ‘oh yeah I know this.’
And this I realise, is how my mind habitually works. Making breakfast, taking the train to work, meeting a new girl, navigating lesbian sex 101…my mind is like ‘oh yeah I know this’. Even when it doesn’t.
Sometimes, all this stops me from even having an experience. I don’t go to the end. I don’t go fully. I live something in my head first then decline to live it in life.
Huge lesson. Baby steps.
Does anyone else do this?