Ew, is that patchouli??

Okay. So with the whole new-and-improved-me thing I’ve got going on (I’m guessing this is Me Version 21.0), I’ve figuratively jumped out of my own body and kicked my own ass into gear. My Higher Self has sent me a very clear message in one of those cheesy metaphors it’s so good at pumping out: No more elevators or escalators, bitch. MOVE IT! “Alright, I’m goin’!”, I whine back. And whaddya know? I’m actually doing stuff. I’m even making appointments and signing up for things I would feel too guilty to cancel. I actually had to go out the other day and buy a day planner. Wow. This is progress.

It started Thursday night when I attended the first meditation class I’ve been to in a very long time. Meditation is one of those things that probably becomes so enriching over time that you can’t help but do it on the regular. But you have to get to that point first, and I’ve been having one hell of a time doing it for even two days in a row. I have several books on meditation, some of which I’ve read and others I won’t give myself permission to read unless I’m sure I’m actually going to do more than let them collect dust on my nightstand for weeks after I’m done with them. I’m ridiculous. So, in the spirit of making sure I go through with these things, I signed up for a crazy intensive meditation retreat in March (future posts on this guaranteed).

I’m assuming I read the class description at least twice, but when I walked into that moldy, creepy room in the basement of a church on Thursday night, I started to have doubts. There stood a skinny dude who was tuning his guitar, offering me snacks and telling me that he brought tea for everyone but his cups disappeared. Why are these people always so CALM and KIND and why am I the FIRST ONE HERE? I panicked silently as I observed all the polite but awkward niceties, finally whipping out a book so the poor bastard wouldn’t feel he had to entertain me during the next ten empty minutes it would probably take for everyone else to show up. When they finally did, I internally cringed through the introduction process and ensuing sheepish smiles we forced every time we were caught looking at each other and wondering whether the other person shaves their armpits or is here because they’re on the verge of a mental breakdown. But in all seriousness, I was super nervous, and I probably wasn’t the only one there wondering why we all felt like we were in a fucking AA meeting. Somehow, the instructor, who was very laid back and yet assuring, convinced us to chant and even sing (AKA kirtan) while he strummed a predictable G-D-Am-D chord progression. As I sang the verses in Sanskrit (fucking up every once in a while because I was too proud to admit I didn’t have the mantra memorized and should probably look down at the flash card) I noticed we looked like a bunch of hippies sitting around a campfire. What was I so freaked out about, anyway? It was corny, sure, but no one else got up to leave and we’d probably never see each other again. Still, I was a little annoyed that the website didn’t seem to mention any of this. I was hoping this wasn’t part of some propaganda campaign to lure us into an elusive new age sect. Then I snapped out of it and realized I was really just super nervous. And it turns out it was all outlined in the class description, which I must have read and decided was worth a try once and for all – and then forgot I was ready for it. Oops.

You know, it really wasn’t bad! Actually, it was pretty cool. After chanting, you have this sort of light, indescribable buzz going on that gives you an ethereal feeling of peace. The point of chanting is to elevate your consciousness, and I’m thinking the Indian sages got something right and choose the correct sounds because there’s no doubt that the sound vibrations in your body produce a beneficial effect. If I can feel that after doing it for 5 minutes, I wouldn’t doubt you’d get amazing results if you practiced it regularly. Going back to vegetarianism, though? Pfft… I don’t think so. Will I suddenly start liking the scent of patchouli? Oh, I doubt it. Sandalwood, I think I sort of like. But patchouli? Does anyone even wear that as a fragrance anymore? I’d rather wear Chantilly Lace.

Another thing that I realized during the session is that I don’t really have many friends I can talk to about this stuff. I don’t know anyone else who would be familiar enough with Buddhism, Yogic and Eastern philosophy and new age stuff to even be able to fake being interested in it. I’ve taken this on as a subject of great personal interest for years now and I guess as a result, I just assumed that it’s a solitary road. After all, you can read in public or meditate as part of a group, but ultimately your mind and thoughts are your own. In reality, I don’t have to do this alone, and it would be fantastic to sink my intellectual teeth into this stuff with fellow geeks (Happy Thought #1). I also realized that I’m on the right track, and I’m ready to stay on it. When you do something on your own even though you’re terrifyingly shy and a little skeptical of how you’ll fit in, you know the connection is genuine – and you just might make some great friends without even having to try (Happy Thought #2).

Next on the menu is a different meditation class and 30 days of unlimited hot (Bikram) yoga classes (i.e. suicide). There’s going to be a lot of pain and regret during the tougher moments, but it will definitely give me something to write about and (hopefully) you something to laugh about. Stay tuned.


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