Monday, September 2, 2013

When life’s kicked you in the head the first thing you need to do is resist the urge to hit back

When life’s kicked you in the head the first thing you need to do is resist the urge to hit back. Turn the other cheek. “Like fuck!” you say! Your life’s just dished up one disaster after another and you’re not only screwed, you’re angry. You’re angry with yourself, you’re angry with others, you’re angry with life, hell you’re even angry with God (and you’re not even a believer but if there was ever proof that there is a God it’s what’s happened to you because there’s no earthly explanation for what you’ve just had to endure). And, you’re hurting. You’re hurting so bad you know that hearts actually do break because you swear you heard it when it happened to yours.

I went to a meditation workshop on the weekend and I had the loveliest time in the company of complete strangers. Best of all, there was so much love in that little room and in our temporary little tribe. Hearts were healed and golf swings improved. (There are many reasons for why people choose to attend meditation workshops.)

We all had the pleasure of meeting Julie whom I will guestimate as being “middle aged” because it’s a cop out and it could mean many things. Julie had lived, let’s just say that.

I arrived in the leafy suburb where the workshop was held. The suburb is really city utopia. Sometimes you can’t see neighboring houses for the trees. My run on public transport had been like a dream. It was as if the Universe had conspired and handed out happy pills to every damned bus driver and rail customer service representative (as they apparently like to call themselves).

Smiles abound.

Trees full of birds singing at the top of their little voices serenading ME.

Rays of sunshine lazily free falling through the tree canopies to come to gentle rest on the ground.

Banana eaten while walking. Peel unceremoniously recycled back into earth via a bush. (The possums and/or wallabies will love me for it.)

A whole day of meditating ahead.

Fucking massive anxiety attack.

I refused to take any medication because I wasn’t going to alter the meditation experience unless I really had to.

You all know my trials and tribulations of the past few years. If you don’t let me sum it up for you:

• Nervous breakdown
• Depression
• Anxiety
• Toxic relationship

Toast anyone?

We went through the group to introduce ourselves and when it came to my turn I heard my voice leave my mouth accompanied by unmistakable sadness and grief. It wobbled with anxiety, and for a moment I just wanted to up and run out of there, but when I looked up at the others I saw only acceptance and, I could have sworn, love. So, I stayed there, plastered to my chair feeling like they all knew a little too much about me but maybe perhaps accepted me as I am and felt a little love and compassion for me.

Julie arrived late. She didn’t get to hear anyone else’s introduction but she was asked to introduce herself. She took a deep breath and begun.

A few years ago she had lost everything. She lost her big house, her husband (he left her), her health, her job and her successful career – she lost everything – except for the car she spent six months living in. When she finally could afford to rent an apartment she couldn’t find anywhere she could live because of her health problems so she spent more time living in her car. Oh, and she had a nervous breakdown a few years before that, not that she had paid much attention to it at the time.

I sat there and watched this woman from across the room and a more peaceful face was not within kilometres of the place, I can tell you that. As I pressed my hands together in front of my chest and “Namasted” her across the room (“hello teacher and bringer of important messages”), the meditation teacher turned his head to look right at me. “Thank you,” I thought, “I did hear and I did get the message.” We nodded at each other at the same time. He knew I knew and I knew he knew. No secrets there.

It seems to be the case so often that we don’t’ listen to life’s little messages and when things go wrong we fight instead of listening. We’re taught to fight. Our ego wants us to fight and defend ourselves. We want to compete ourselves out of it to prove how strong we are. We’re deathly afraid of losing or being hurt. It’s just that when life smacks a giant lemon into the back of your head and you don’t listen (and for fuck’s sake don’t even think about making lemonade!) then it will probably end up roundhouse kicking you in the head in the end to make you listen. If it takes getting you down on your damned knees to make you listen that’s what will happen, you will be down on your damned knees.

(Good news about it is that once you’ve fallen onto the floor and you're on your knees there’s really nowhere further to fall. You can roll around in the dirt and feel sorry for yourself if you like but the only real direction available for you to go is up.)

I got lemoned.

Julie got roundhouse kicked.

The message I got from Julie’s presence on Saturday was that the last thing I need to do is to fight. The only things I need to do is to surrender, let go, listen and, of course, meditate.

The anxiety attack was gone by the second meditation or in the second hour if you’re bothered by the lack of time reference. The teacher (what a guy – I just love him now) remarked to me at the end of the day that something had happened to me during the day. He said “You’re like a different person now. When we came back from lunch you were practically beaming. I could almost touch the change with my hands. This morning you were……something else.”

I told him about the anxiety attack and he stood there and shook his head for a while then looked at me and asked “The power of meditation?”

“Yup,” I replied, “the power of meditation – and being surrounded by loving people.” Do not underestimate the power of a loving tribe even if it’s made up of complete strangers for just a day, yeah.

It was a great day on so many levels. I was told by several people that I have this enormously loving presence, and almost motherly love and caring that I radiate. Salve for my soul and fucking feeding frenzy for my ago I tell you but I know I have no problem giving love. I have a problem receiving and loving myself.

The teacher came up to me and started a conversation with me after the workshop had ended and he said “We need to heal you. We need you to find your way back to you. Do not stop talking to me after this – I’m here to encourage you to keep meditating. You’re so close, so close. Now, what do you want to do?” That last one, a very important question, and he wasn’t asking it about meditation, he was asking it about life. The man did not spend 22 years in celibacy and meditation not learning a thing or two, apparently.

So, I need to stop fighting. I need to just sit and wait and listen. I consumer whored myself a couple of meditation pillows today. The space is already cleared in the house.



  1. I once tried meditation but it didn't work for me, Life got in the way. In all seriousness, I was talking with my doc about pain ... because of a torn Achilles tendon and she suggested a meditative type of exercise as an aid to sleep...I'm too existential I guess, all I could muster was a replay of her words, nothing else. The pain? I just grit my teeth and endure.

  2. I find it really hard to meditate too – apparently it’s not even meant to be easy.

    It’s easier in a group and it’s even easier in a group using guided meditations. Alone, it’s easier with guided meditations. Chanting is not quite as easy as guided meditations. Vipassana, or mindfulness meditation, in which one’s just supposed to concentrate on the breath was probably invented by an insane monk who wished to torture normal people because he had to be celibate.
    It’s pretty much hell and you will find things itching and hurting that you just didn’t know you had.
    And, forget sitting in lotus position unless you’ve practiced for years or you’re really addicted to pain.
    I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s hard work at times but if you stick with it, it pays off in a rather major way.


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