Ever questioning, ever wondering, my journey commenced with yoga and asana studies while still an undergraduate. I heard a lot about meditation, but focused my consciousness studies (mostly) on the somatic. Through Alexander Technique, I was introduced to mindfulness, Gurdjieff work and ultimately Buddhist meditation as taught by Pema Chodron.
Yet still I yearned: for greater structure to explore the vast unbounded, for something I could consistently practice and ostensibly grow on my own, in my home. I felt physically connected to the cosmic through my somatic endeavors, yet still wrestled with paralyzing fear and doubt about how to best cultivate my gifts into a life of art, action and service. I felt intrinsically connected to “everything that is infinite, that is wondrous, that is YES”—but I didn’t quite know why.
So I tried to sit and listen to the Universe’s whispers--but I heard nothing. I dedicated whole Summers to the task of “getting in touch with what I should be doing”--yet gleaned nothing. Following my Buddhist instruction, I’d patiently sit, follow the breath and try not to think—but when trying, naturally, all I could do was think.
Frustrated, I realized I had no real technique.
Following the breath clearly works for many, but as a singer who has spent her life studying, obsessing and mastering the use of breath, centering my mediation on it only stirred, rather than settled, my mind. I knew there had to be another means whereby to go beyond thought, beyond the confines of the ever familiar known.
Synchronously, I heard about a fellow--Thom Knoles--who could get anybody to meditate. As the Daoists say, when the student is ready, the teacher appears: so off I went to hear Thom, formally known as Maharishi Vyasananda Saraswati, speak. He studied with and assisted Maharishi Mahesh Yogi (the founder of Transcendental Meditation) for over 25 years and subsequently taught thousands to effortlessly meditate--so why not me? I was initiated, began regular practice and soon noticed a new shimmer and sheen in the world. I experienced deeper rest, more vivid dreams (a sign of stress release), less insomnia. More importantly, at long last, I was a regular meditator who could make contact with herself and her source each day without a teacher or recording. I was finally captain of my own inward voyage.
Regular practice bore many gifts—in particular the ability to make time for oneself each day so to, in turn, hold greater space for others out in the world. Yet I suspected the practice could offer me much more.
So I attended a retreat for deeper study which led to privates with my teacher, Thom, and eventually to study in India. In India, I experienced bliss like never before. Ever my own fiercest critic, I lived life, unwittingly, as a perfectionistic—yet didn’t dare call myself such as I didn’t feel anything I did came close to any ideal standard. In India, I came to see that perfection is inherently boring: dynamism is the stuff of life. What I was most missing was that joie de vivre that sees the beauty not in spite of, but because of, the imperfection.
In India, I remembered--rather than learned--that bliss and joy are my birthright--one forgotten and eschewed in pursuit of accomplishment, education, artistic mastery—all some kind of mythical grail.
Long before I meditated, my intrinsic mystic would quip that I was “celestial and terrestrial”. In India, the self-prophecy, at long last, came true. I had returned to the beginning and truly knew the place of human-merely-being for the first time: the blissful source of infinite potential from which all that is creative, loving, relevant and evolutionary flows.