The first month we were really “trying” to have a baby, my true crazy came out. Oh, the “trying” part wasn’t what did it; we spent almost two weeks on our megamoon (the opposite of a mini-moon, get it?) in Paris and Provence “trying.” It was glorious. The relaxation, comfort, and connection was exactly what a honeymoon is supposed to be. It was returning to our life knowing that everything would be different, that we had started the next phase, that we were having children….and then getting my period two weeks later that sent me over the edge.
I don’t fail. That’s not what I do. I can out stubborn, out persist, out work any goal I’ve ever had. So THIS, this NO, sent me for a loop. I gotta nip this in the bud. I am not going to be this person every month. I’m just not. I went to the Shambhala center a few minutes from my house the next morning. I wasn’t entirely unfamiliar with meditation or even Buddhism. As I’ve said in previous posts, I’d received training wheels instructions to both in the recent past, so when I walked in ready to participate in the morning sit before their weekly “cafe” discussion about whatever book they were reading chapter by chapter and the desk guy told me I should start with some meditation instruction I politely declined. “No, no. You reeeeeally should start with some instruction. It will help.” So, here Frank the middle-aged, pleated khaki, stocking foot Buddhist and I got up to the advanced instruction shrine room. Now, my mom has always encouraged me to be on the lookout for cults. When I joined roller derby she staged an intervention concerned I was joining a cult. So my cult radar was just going mad as I walked into a room with pictures of two dudes up on the wall behind an alter with flowers and candles and bowls and a crystal ball. Frank and I settled on some cushions and I saw him do something I’ve now seen every teacher at the center do…he looked down, took a breath like he didn’t know what he was going to say (oh wait, he actually thinks before he speaks?!? Mindblowing right?) and then said “we are not here to fix you. You do not need fixing. Inside all of us is the basic goodness that is everything we need.” Cue the tears. I thought that was one of those serendipitous moments of grace. Now I know, that’s just really what they believe and they tell everyone that.
I came back every Saturday I could. Our cafe group read and discussed Chogyam Trungpa’s book on conversation every week. A very comfortable, welcoming group and discussion group. It was a nice part of the weekend routine. One Saturday the announcements included information about signing up for Level I, a class that was only described as a good introduction to the way of Shambhala. I was game. I spent the weekend hearing about basic goodness and that meditation was the way to tap into it. We meditated…a lot. And at the end everyone talked about how calm and transformed they were. I was not. I didn’t like sitting. I couldn’t get rid of this tension in my chest. And I had this nagging feeling of heaviness and doubt.
When they announced Level II was coming up a couple months later, I really struggled with whether to participate. Ultimately my curiosity, need to overcome my perceived Level I failure, and the fact I’d already blocked out the weekend persuaded me to do it. Besides “Birth of a Warrior” sounded a much more natural fit than “The Art of Becoming Human.” Nearly four hours of sitting and walking meditation each day. The first sit we did, there it was again, that tension in my chest. That discomfort on my cushion. “This is going to suck” I thought. And then I tried something. I worked from the very top of my head and visualized relaxing each area all the way down to my toes. The muscles holding my eyelids up, my jaw, my stomach, those muscles across my shoulder blades. All of them had tension I hadn’t even noticed.
And there it was…a feeling of relaxation I’d never felt awake. I felt a spaciousness in my body, particularly in my womb that I didn’t know could or needed to be there. This book I’m reading called Making Babies: A Proven 3-Month Program for Maximum Fertility by MD Sami S. Davis and TCM practitioner Jill Blakeway talked about that space. If your body is always getting the message that you are too busy and too tense for a baby, you won’t get one the book opines. Makes sense to me. I’m going to try to keep finding that relaxation, that spaciousness. I’m also going to remember that our walking meditation showed me that when I tapped into that same relaxation, that same focus on only my own breath, the steps came so effortlessly. I literally walked the sure, steady path. I finally, FINALLY felt the meditation magic. A pretty good place to start for the remedial student.
More to come…