Last summer I signed up for a free 21-day meditation series from the Chopra Center with a friend of mine. We agreed to do the daily meditations and keep notes and get together every few days or so and share our impressions. Sort of a metaphysical book club. It was so great for so many reasons.
I do meditate.
But I have trouble doing it on my own. I prefer guided meditations and I own a CD or two, but get tired of them pretty quickly. I've learned that my monkey mind is pretty strong and tends to jump ahead if I've listened to a particular meditation more than a few times, assuming it knows what is coming next and preferring to finish the quiet time so it can get back to jumping frantically from tree to tree.
Having a daily guided meditation and a friend to keep me honest was perfect. I was actually able to trick my mind into acquiescence and had some pretty cool revelations during the three weeks I did it. Thereza and I had fun sharing our impressions of the meditations and, when it was over, I was sad to see it go (but not sad enough to purchase additional meditations - I'm cheap that way).
Monday, the Chopra Center started a new free round of meditations and this time there are four of us doing it. Today's meditation centered around the ego, part of myself I struggle with accepting, so I was surprised when the facilitator encouraged us to embrace and acknowledge our egos. He talked about it as an essential part of who we are and asked this simple question before allowing us to descend into silent contemplation: What is it that you think you own? Your car? The lane in front of you? Think about the tens of thousands of things you think you own - from material possessions to emotional responses to relationships.
And I dropped in to meditation. The first thing I noticed was that, in my mind's eye, the right side of my body appeared larger and more developed than the left side. I've noticed this phenomenon before and what it means to me is that I'm too much in my head of late. I need to stop thinking and categorizing and judging and acting and start simply being and accepting more. When I do that, the two sides of my body come into balance. I know it sounds strange, but that is how imbalance projects itself onto my consciousness.
The second thing I noticed as I asked myself the question, "What do I think I own?" was a pair of red Keds walking past my mind's eye. Instantly, I knew that these were my beloved red tennis shoes from my elementary years. Other visions slowly made their way forward, including the calico cat I rescued when I was eight or nine, our family's dog, the wallpaper in the guest room that my sister thought looked like nests of spiders, and all manner of other random things from my childhood.
Over the fifteen minutes or so that I sat watching these things march past, a couple of times I wondered why the only things my ego conjured up were things that I used to own. And then the barrier melted away. These were memories. Most of which I hadn't actually recalled until just now, but memories just the same. My ego is ruled by the past, by those things I wish I knew about my childhood as well as the things I know shaped the person I am today. The bulk of my ego treasure chest is cluttered with memory and black holes I wish I could fill with memories.
All at once, I literally felt my left side growing. It was as if someone were inflating it with air or blood was rushing to oxygen-starved tissues and suddenly my two sides were equal. Balance. The recognition that my ego is largely ruled by things that belong in the past was all it took to restore balance. Within seconds, I heard the meditation instructor's voice calling us back to consciousness and I felt clear-headed and centered.
There are times when a revelation brings quiet clarity, a certain knowledge. Today was one of those times, and the beauty of it is that I don't even feel the need to do anything with this knowledge. I am not spurred to go chastise my ego for living in the past or railing against things I can't change. I don't feel as though I need to go any farther with this information right now. Simply knowing is enough for today. It feels like a great accomplishment and, once again, I am struck by the realization of how powerful self-awareness is, especially when it isn't accompanied by self-judgment.