Snorkeling in My Subconscious
I’ve been doing a new type of meditation — “therapy” is an equally good word. There’s really nothing to it (all I do is set a 30-minute timer and sit quietly with myself), but the effects have been profound.
What I mean by “sitting quietly with myself” is that I let my attention go wherever it naturally goes, while trying to maintain awareness that I am sitting here, now, in the background. Whenever I notice that I’ve lost that awareness, or that I’m feeling impatient or distracted, I anchor my attention in the sensations in my body, then let it go wherever it wants again. If something intense, like a pang of anger, comes up, I try to give it space, lightly saying “you’re welcome here” to the experience. I try not to overthink what I’m doing, trusting my gut when something feels important. So if I feel like I need to cry, I just cry, without trying to check whether I’m truly present every second.
This simple practice has uncovered so much under the surface of my mind! It’s a bit like snorkeling — until you dive in, the water seems perfectly uniform, but underneath the glories are endless. One of the most interesting “fish” I have found are the emotionally charged memories which spontaneously bubble up to the surface when I am sufficiently calm. Here are a few examples.
- I noticed I was stressed about an upcoming social interaction. I let myself fully inhabit that feeling and… Poof!
I am back in third grade, my bully Victoria pushing me down to my hands and knees. Pulling down my pants. Sitting on my back. I am back in third grade, a humiliated horsey.
Here, now, on my meditation bench, I can’t stop crying.
My teacher, Mrs. P, can’t stop apologizing. She gives me a beautiful little bear-shaped stamp. She pampers me for the rest of the day. She has never scolded Victoria this bad.
I love the stamp, but I don’t deserve it. Doesn’t Mrs. P. know that today was nothing out of the ordinary, nothing but the culmination of the little cruelties Victoria had been piling on me for months?
The tears come, and come, and come. Had I carried this sadness here all the way from third grade? At the…