I once experienced the mind and the body becoming one! The same thing, no I hadn’t taken mind altering drugs, it was during a 10 day Vipassana, silent meditation retreat. Vipassana translates as ‘insight’. Insight to that which, we usually do not feel or sense, because we do not bring attention to it.
We do not bring attention to it because we find ways to distract ourselves.
We find ways to distract ourselves so we do not need to look within. But to look within is to find a chasm of deep knowing, a treasure chest of wisdom, a binding connection with nature within and without.
I felt alarmed and sanctified when I experienced the mind and the body merge, it was purification, a clearing, almost like a magic spell, an overwhelming sense of presence and clarity.
It took a 10 day meditation ‘boot camp’ to arrive at this heightened state of consciousness, enduring pain and suffering in both mind and body, physical pain through my back, neck, legs, and shoulders.
And obsessive attention to the inhalation and exhalation of my breath and the sensation it created below and within my nostrils! The sensation of the breath within my upper, middle, and lower ribs, my belly, my back, my pelvis. The experience of breath everywhere within and without!
Then on day 9, the pain dropped away, all the mental torment, inner critiquing, remorse, anxiety, projection, rumination, rummaging and struggle dispersed. I found a peaceful calm, a gentle open space of quiet, a sighing release of my muscles. My ribcage literally let go, my mind disappeared!
I was free, I was liberated, I had no thoughts! Just presence, clear, open, focused, mindful presence!
Cooking sweet corn was suddenly like a holy ritual and simply walking down the street became so meaningful and new!
Slowly, over some days and weeks, my mind drifted back again, separating from its quiet, silent retreat and creative collaboration with my body and began its own meanderings once again. I tried to stop it, I kept meditating and encouraging it to stay immersed within the cells of my body but the discipline slowly dispersed and my mind re-emerged and the rumination returned.
I’m recalling this state of ‘mind’ as I recognise within the emotional and mental detox experienced during (and following) the vipassana retreat to the highs and lows experienced over this past year during this global pandemic.
Falling in and out of mindfulness, swinging from a deep connection and synergy with the planet, a feeling of hope, higher perception and renewal, a lifting of global consciousness to then sinking to a muddled struggle, a state of uncertainty and dissolution, instability and questioning.
What has kept me grounded? Well, sometimes nothing, I’ve uprooted and wobbled. But what has regrounded me? The Breath! The breath within my body! The breath within nature, of the sea and of the river. The breath of the trees and the flowers. The breath of the people around me, their smiles and their hope. The breath(lessness) from running, exercising and digging the earth, and the breath within my postures on the yoga mat, consistently there, faithfully guiding me on.
By returning to that which keeps us alive and enhances our awareness, we can gain brighter and clearer insight; help to keep our spirits lifted and take refuge within.
May we all take some time to breathe! Breathe in, breathe out, breathe deep and breathe well!
“Yoga breathing control (or pranayama) is a joyful song that soothes, purifies, energizes and harmonizes our body, mind and soul to create inner healing. So, practice singing the song of breathing.”
? Debasish Mridha
Emma teaches and practices Thai Massage and Yoga. She works at the Practice rooms in Exeter and teaches Yoga in Topsham and Exeter. She runs retreats, training and workshops throughout Devon and Europe.