Monday Night Nonfiction: Opening

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In the yoga studio she centers herself as instructed by the teacher. She is not certain if any of what she is doing is real, so to speak. She is instructed on aligning her chakras, and she positions her body in the ways she is told to do. She breathes deeply and focuses her mind on the sensations here and there — in the center of her head, in her heart, in the socket of her shoulder joint and what have you — but she is not sure if she can actually feel or otherwise sense energy. She’s told the brain itself has no feelings but rather is responsible for perceiving and distributing the sensations of the rest of the body. What, then, is it that she experiences when she obeys her teacher?

The instructions are like this: First, sit. Breathe. Be here in the present moment. Let go of thoughts about other places and other things. Feel your body. Experience being in it. Sit up straight with your spine aligned from the bottom up like a tower. Close your eyes. Bring your attention to your forehead, the area of your third eye, sense the active energy there. Now, pull your attention back inside. Bring your attention to the center of your head.

At this point in the directions, she feels a place of quiet open up in the center of her brain. It has a bluish color, but it is not cold. It’s a restful place. She feels as though she has drawn all of herself in to this peaceful place, which is really a state of mind rather than a physical place. She is not hallucinating. She does not believe herself to have been physically transported. She knows she has activated something within her own brain.Some chemical must have been released, some synapses set off in a particular pattern. She lacks the vocabulary for it but understand this is a miraculous thing the body does. But what is this sensation? If the brain cannof feel, why does she experience what feels quite literally like a gentle opening within her own skull? She imagines it is how the air must feel when a flower blooms. The air naturally and painlessly moves out of the way for the blossom. It is at once sensual and cerebral. It is one of her favorite feelings in the world, and yet it’s too elusive to get attached to. It’s so hard to pinpoint that she cannot even become addicted to it.

She has heard of people who became addicted to meditation. She doesn’t understand that. She doesn’t like to sit still very much and can only do so when instructed by her teacher, and then often for rather short periods. She has considered taking classes for meditation or joining a group or even a church, but she is simply not that motivated. She feels vaguely guilty for her lack of interest in enlightenment. But then she shrugs the thought away. Who cares?

Enlightenment would be pretty nice, she guesses, though she’s not sure what it means. She thinks of people who strive toward enlightenment, who meditate obsessively, who preach the power of zazen with evangelical fervor, as spiritual jokes. She finds it unfortunate that they take themselves so seriously as to fail to see the irony of their behavior. They preach non-attachment, they don’t drink alcohol or eat meat, and … mid-way through the thought, she finds herself being as judgemental as those people are. She figures it is best to avoid philosophy. Hypothesizing about the spiritual is hopeless, but still she wonders, what is this sensation? What is this opening in my brain?

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