Monday, 26 March 2012

Before I read

Today before I read my emails, or check twitter, or, or spin any other of the daily plates...

I'm just back from  three-day Vipassana meditation retreat. It was short - compared to the more usual ten-day courses, where one undergoes quite a transformation from everyday life. However, it was long enough for me to witness once again how distinct and beautiful it is to be with other people who are not speaking or making eye contact.

I realise that might sound a bit absurd.
Like - "it's okay to be around people as long as you don't have anything to do with them".

And maybe that's a part of it - that our lives weren't there to get in the way. We had no pens or pencils or phones or books or maps or letters or make up or fancy clothes or music or dancing or internet. Instead, just our bodies, in a space, practising meditation, eating simply, sometimes walking, and sometimes resting. Making no sound, and making no eye contact with each other.

And you might imagine that because we weren't talking or making eye contact, that we weren't really present with each other. But on the contrary, we were all holding a space together - and much more aware, in a compassionate way, of the other people in the space.

I think what it comes down to is this:

No-one bumped into each other.

Not with words or bodies.

Because there was space to be both in our own bodies and with others.
And this is a rare combination out here in our lives.

At the moment when we knew we were about to start speaking again, to make eye contact, to be with each other - there was a sense of anticipation. An excitement. But there was also a re-learning. A quick refresher - so quick it was barely perceptible - on how to mask truth with language, how to cover shame and embarrassment, how to be a girl or a boy or another kind of container.

This moment of reprogramming was barely perceptible. But the shift back into our everyday lives was immense. And within minutes, we were all navigating our worlds again, getting ready to head homewards, making friends, passing judgements, asking how the experience had been, asking how to get to the train station. Separated by communication.

So this post is a reminder - to me, mostly - to taste words more carefully. To remember that underneath all the layers of pens and pencils and phones and books and maps and letters and make up and fancy clothes and music and dancing and internet - there is always just a person, walking into the world.

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