Part 1: Middle Road
I commenced a 90 day meditation trip 33 years ago in Korea, part of which I wrote in my book, The Art of Harmony. This is the first part of three part series of my experience of living meditation for 100 days, which I began in the summer of 2014 in New England. Read Part 2, Part 3.
It’d been a while since I thought of doing a long meditation, like 100 days. But work and frequent moving have kept me busy. I created a living meditation scheduled around my obligations.
It took about three months to prepare and shift my lifestyle from workaholic to life-a-holic. In preparation, I needed to identify my objectives and hurdles, and make some adjustments. My kitchen floor became a mindful movement practice room and the living room a meditation floor. Having a place for stretching and meditation is a good start; having family support is crucial. Mutual understanding empowers you down the road.
In a state of deep meditation, mental guards, deeply ingrained and habituated in the bone and brain for survival, vanish. The learned socially conditioned mode of the mind gradually loses its place, replaced with a more silent self, the one that may be perceived unfamiliar because of its free and natural characteristics. Hidden, suppressed, and vulnerable, hardly showing its face in the presence of the dominant self on the surface, it is always working, regardless my attention.
The rules inside, unlike the controlling and intimidating rules of outside, run differently. There are no restrictions, yet my careful observation reveals unspoken orders that embrace all, like the center of a ball. Always welcoming any circumstances, without judgement, rolling, bouncing, pressed, stopped.
The longer I stay there, the more I am nourished. That’s why I wanted to return once more.
Entering this phase of meditation is challenging. Unfamiliarity generates a little bit of fear, like putting both feet into a body of water, of which the depth is unknown. More frightening is when I step on things totally unexpected and unknown. The mind has a tendency to revisit pains more than pleasure, especially those of the past. I find it crucial to have the courage to face the fragility of the self experienced in those moments of the most vulnerable period of life.
Switching back to the present time, disengaging from the unfamiliar self, requires determination, experience, and support. Returning demands commitment. Disarming, knowing it will be hurtful, is not an easy task. Arming ourselves with masks, tiring in the long run, is frankly much easier than disarming. To be in peace, disarming is the only way.
Meditation is a sustained state of disarmament from self masks, a vulnerable dance in the middle of nowhere. The moment I sense disorientation, instinctively I grab something, of the past or future, and end up experiencing no progress, running away from the discomfort of being in a not-known place and time. But that’s where the root force of meditation is, in the midst of void, fine-tuning of the mind taking place.
The most important thing I found is focus. Each day I had one riddle or word that would keep me on track. It keeps me from wandering, helping me stay with the quest, which starts narrowly from a corner of my mind, gradually expanding my awareness and swallowing me and the space I am in, inside and outside.
Sometimes, the space outside grows into me. The inside then stretches outward, through the border, merging with the birds, clouds, and waves that I see. I become the song of the bird, the wind that carries the clouds, and the rhythm of the waves. There is a fenceless moment, refreshing, rejuvenating, invigorating.
At the end of each meditation session, I am back home again, the same kitchen floor and living room, bringing back with me the part of my self from a million light years away at the speed of childhood imagination. Gentle but strong excitement soars as deeply as opening a sealed letter written for me long before I was born, in codes indescribable yet meaningful.
Read Part 2.