Why meditation should have warning labels like cigarettes

Illustration by Kate Gillett

Mostly, I’m afraid, of this very first post.

What happened in 2014?
How do I explain myself?
What will he, she, they think?

But then, life is unpredictable. It is hard to understand. Immense, immeasurable and inexplicable things do happen. And what he/she/they think, will inevitably change, be brief and get crowded out by the very next thought (facebook post).
So here it is.

The scene is a dark starry sky stretching out over a jungle canopy and a glassy lake; A young woman lies with her limbs stretched out, the cool of the night wrapping her skin. Every cell presses hot lips up to the still air until it feels as viscous as honey. Her eyes are closed. She’s feeling out the starlight, unable to distinguish where her molecules end and they begin.
It’s a long night. Or several days and nights. Who can tell anymore?
One must let go of everything. Know nothing. Learn everything for the first time, each time. Breath, the sensation of the hand, the shifting tides of emotion, the fractured lights and images passing by. One must be prepared not to know. Only feel the way in, follow what is.

I followed breath and sensation inwards, followed what is, and everything suddenly came apart in my hands. 
What is turns out to be thoroughly different to what I thought. Body, heart, Self, world, all introduced themselves for the very first time. What is opened up into a cavernous space of the infinite, inseparable, impermanent, inconceivable, and true. As though waking from a bad dream, I knew this place. A lonely cry of recognition echoing out of the depths: I have always been this! A thirsty amnesic in the desert, I had been circling this aquifer a long, long time. 
I opened my eyes to breaking dawn and a jungle waking. Nothing could stitch back together the world come apart. There was no way to pull back on the skin I had shed. Just suddenly massive feet to walk on in a brave new world.

Of course, when I got up off floor, I found I was still married, working in a major Sydney hospital, living in my recently proudly purchased first-home studio apartment. 

In the early dawn light, I sank down by the water, dropping feet into the cold lake.  Cicadas sang the accompaniment to a rush of anguish and terror. For suddenly I could see that who I had been was largely a product of lives lived before mine. How history had tangled in my neurons and membranes, and had me bound and constricted, tied up in moments long since passed. I saw how fear and anxiety had gripped me, and had me holding onto something fundamentally untrue:  That I could protect myself from pain and suffering. If I would just live carefully, within these rules and guidelines, then uncertainty, tragedy, hurt, betrayal, and most of all loneliness would not plague me. 
My hazy warm dream of a marriage primed for children, a life in the country, a family dog growing fat and lazy…All of it, a woollen jumper I had knitted with care and diligence, suddenly outgrown, scratchy and constricting. Broken open, whole body shaking, I sobbed with a confusion of grief and joy. This sudden discovery of new places within and wider horizons. Weeping for the life I had built around everything I did not know.

What came next is difficult, painful, controversial, open to criticism and judgement from endless parties. It will no doubt be the subject of many hours of therapy and fuel angst-ridden writing for many years to come.
So perhaps for now we can stick to some facts.
I left my marriage. I quit my job. I walked out of my home with three bags. I crossed the country, and then the world. I put down everything as I had known it. I let go of the map, and simply stepped off it.

I’m now unemployed. Homeless. Realising I might want to be a writer. Knowing I have no idea who I am, how life is meant to be lived, how love is meant to be loved. I’m starting again. Every moment. Every breath. I’m terrified, a lot, a lot, of the time.

When I follow what is, follow my fear inwards, I can see it's furious flurry of thoughts, feel it as tension and constriction around my heart. I can feel its vibrating cord humming deeply in my gut. It softens with the touch of my awareness, and an endless field of love expands around it to hold that frightened girl who is so afraid of being hurt in this wild, risky, and immensely painful existence. We take some deep breaths together, and sometimes, we stay under the covers in a blanket fort. Then we face this life together. We know at our depth lies the infinite. It is big enough for all things.

“Life is a daring adventure, or nothing” (Helen Keller).


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