I was sitting in a hot yoga hall in Mexico with 70 other meditation students. We were lined up in perfect rows on the floor with cushions. Women on the left, men on the right. The ceiling fans, on high, provided the only breeze, even though the walls, were not walls, but screens. I felt like I was in an oven or a pressure cooker. I could see the sun sparkling like glitter on the surface of the ocean behind my teacher.
It was my first meditation retreat. For 10 days I vowed to not speak, look, or write to anyone. Translated that means no internet, no email, no Facebook, no text messages, no phone calls, no eye contact, no gestures, no reading, although we could journal.
The first 3 days were okay, I entertained myself during the breaks by having internal conversations, "Oh, that's a cute dress she's wearing. I wonder where she got it? What's that guy doing? Oh look, there's a hummingbird." And if my internal conversations weren't entertaining anymore, I would shift my focus to marveling at the girl's hair sitting directly in front of me. Her hair was a masterpiece! It was a intricate design of golden dreadlocks. Some pieces fanned out before coming together more tightly. Others wove in and out of others. It was gorgeous. And I declared that I loved this girl because she had amazing hair, and I would tell her as soon we could speak.
On day 4, the commentary within became irritated and angry. On one of the breaks, my mind yelled, "THIS SUCKS!!! Seriously? We seriously can't talk?? I freakin lost my mala and I just want to tell someone, "Hey, I lost my mala that my dear friend made me." I want a hug...I CANNOT BELIEVE I SIGNED UP FOR THIS. WHY THE HELL DID I SIGN UP FOR THIS??!!!" And with that last thought, a light turned on and I realized that anytime I had said those words, whether it was a fasting retreat, ceremony, trek, anything that pushed my comfort zones those had been the most profound and deepest experiences of my life. That they had opened me. Transformed me.
I knew in that moment that no matter what, this was going to be a wonderful, soul stirring experience. And that's when things begin to shift for me. I was able to relax into the meditations more and just accept where I was and what I was experiencing without so much internal commentary. I was able to step back into my soul and see that the internal dialogue was just my "story" that my mind created. I could step out of the drama of my egoic mind. I could now see the difference between my ego and spirit instead of playing into the drama of the egoic mind. What a huge revelation.
As the days passed, I became more and more centered in my heart. My heart continued to open. So much so that when my house got broken into while I was meditating and I discovered on my lunch break that they had stole my IPods and camera, I didn't really mind. I thought, "They seem like nice thieves. How nice they didn't take my clothes or feather earrings! Or Linda, the big rose quartz crystal. Or my passport. I hope they had tea...." It really wasn't a big deal. It felt trivial. Another camera would come. Other IPods. Why did those things matter so much when I had FELT the magnificence of my soul, of the Universe? This was just a fleeting moment. This, too, shall pass.
I will rise and fall with the waves of the Universe, but gain or lose, it doesn't matter because I am the ocean.
We are all the ocean.