My Meditation Experience
As a young, married suburban woman in Richmond, Virginia, I was in a spiritual quandary and on such an intense spiritual search that I tried just about anything. I was desperate to discover what life was about, what it meant, who I “really” was and why I was here. I was in my early 20s with two children; a daughter of three and a son of eight months. Somehow I knew that this current ‘me’ wasn’t all that I could be.
I investigated all the mainstream religions, attended weekly prayer groups, even though I’d been brought up Primitive Baptist, I tried out the Catholic Charismatic group. I kept saying, “Do you really think that is what Jesus would say?” Eventually I was invited to not come back. I went to all sorts of alternative thought systems, from Theosophy to Edgar Cayce Search for God Study Groups to George Ritchie’s Universal Youth Core. After all it was the 60s and even though I was a suburban mom, married to an accountant I wasn’t totally unaware of the vast changes going on in the world.
One of the things I did was take yoga classes. The classes were taught in a townhouse a few blocks off the campus of the Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) by an English professor. Marcia was an extremely beautiful, dark eyed, statuesque brunette. She had a strong physical presence, but a breathy Marilyn Monroe come-hither voice. Her voice was always a surprise. It could have been the spiritual manifestation of opposites. After teaching all day, being in charge, the soul of power, at night she turned into a receptive and non-threatening whisper of a person, the soul of submissiveness. Or maybe it was because she was over six feet tall and a formidable person and this was her way of not overwhelming us. She was a mystery and a fascination to me. I went every Wednesday night at 7 PM.
I took to yoga like a duck to water. My body was young, subtle and the postures felt natural. The meditation was even better. I was raised as a Primitive Baptist in a small southern Virginia town. Yoga wasn’t in our vocabulary. And if it had come up, it would’ve been reason for serious concern. It might have even been cause for a call from the minister.
I was very quiet; I don’t think I ever spoke except for the OM meditation. I did the yoga poses easily, waiting eagerly for the meditation. Marcia’s voice took us on a long whispery voyage, an incantation that took us down, down into our deeper selves to reach for our highest spiritual inclinations. I loved it. It felt to me to be a superior way of discovering my higher self, a self that I didn’t know I had – one full of respect and belief in this vast part of me that I didn’t have otherwise.
This one meditation, the reason I’m writing, happened after we were deep into our inner worlds. We’d finished our exercises and Marcia led us into a meditation. I was sailing along on the OM vibe and I opened my eyes and I wasn’t sitting in a Grove Avenue townhouse, I was looking out of eyes in another world. I was high up in the mountains, vast mountains, and overwhelming endless vistas. No snow, just grey; grey skies, grey rocky cliffs. A deep sense of peace penetrated my every cell.
I looked down and it wasn’t my body. This didn’t seem to upset me at all. And it was a man’s body. My/his legs were brown, thin and so skinny, I could see the bones, and these legs were unbelievably dirty legs.
All of a sudden I became aware of HIM. I was surprised by a slightly humorous charm, and genuine warmth that came from him. “We” were sitting on the ground. The ground was grey, gravelly and cold. One small dented pan, a battered wooden box and nothing else. I blinked trying to figure out what was happening. He laughed inside. His sweet peace was all encompassing. I shut my eyes again, letting this anxiety-less-world envelop me. I relaxed into it. I breathed into it.
After a while I started to get slightly worried about the Grove Avenue yoga studio and how to get back there. I could feel the hard rocks under his almost naked bottom. I could feel the emptiness of his stomach. His dry mouth. I knew he lived slightly down and to the left in a small cave. I wondered if he was on Grove Avenue checking out the yoga
class. I somehow knew that this was Tibet and he was an ascetic monk. Even though he was a warm and inviting presence I was ready to go back home. But how was I to do that? I decided that I had to go back into deep meditation. I focused my energy, filled my being with OM and descended into my center.
Then I somehow knew I was back in Richmond. I opened my eyes and was surprised to see that everyone else had packed up and left. I was alone in the studio with Marcia. She asked me what had happened and I told her. I started to cry and she just held me saying, “Sometimes things like this happen when you meditate.”
I drove the 30 minutes back to the suburbs in a daze – going from one world to another. But I’ve never forgotten that experience and that man. I wonder if he remembers me.