MBSR 4: Virgin meditation

I find it fascinating how the mind tricks us. When I close my eyes and meditate for 30 minutes, all sorts of peculiar things happen.

For example, thoughts. No matter how hard I try to focus on the body scan, these rogue thoughts keep attacking me. Thoughts about whose couch I should ask to crash on next week or in a year, thoughts about whether I am a burden for someone, thoughts about which device or sensor to use to detect breathing for my thesis experiments, thoughts about adopting pet rats and where to leave them whenever I would like to travel…

All these thoughts come and go, like clouds in a summer sky or leaves in an autumn stream. Some are more like a boomerang – I push them away but they come back after a while.

During meditation, I feel very alone with my thoughts, vulnerable even. Each thought is exceptionally apparent, intrusive, big and scary. This is not necessarily a bad thing. It is just very unusual for me to be left alone with my thoughts like this. In daily life, there is often a way to switch those thoughts off. Something happens outside that catches my attention, I see a dust bunny, or bump into a piece of furniture.

While meditating, when my eyes are closed and I am focused on looking inwards, these external distractions are cut to the minimum. I tune out from the outside world. I acknowledge that it is still there, I can hear the wind and see the light play behind my closed eyelids, but it is not as intense as what is happening inside my body and mind.

It even feels like I am slightly disconnected from the outside world. That there is just me, my body, my mind, and the light-induced mandala patterns playing in front of my closed eyelids. It feels weird to describe it as a ball of warmth and light, but that is the feeling I get. As if I am being held in cotton or in a soap bubble, separated from the world. An individual entity. Just me and my thoughts.

Coming out of that state takes time. Suddenly, the world around me is so bright and vivid, even though I do not have my glasses on and cannot see sharp. Every thought and worry I had during the session seems so small and unimportant now.

The benefit of the meditation session hits me hard. I started out sceptical – as if some silent sitting for 30 minutes could help me with the anxious feeling – and, to be honest, that is also how I felt during the session, but at this moment of re-entering the real world, everything seems to fall into place. It is the reflection that gives the most meaning to the meditation, that helps me see how useful it was.

I know that reading this text will probably elicit thoughts such as “She’s gone mad!” or “What is this warm ball of light she is rambling about?”. That is completely normal. With most somatosensory experiences, words are not enough to make the reader understand everything. One has to be in it themselves to identify with the words and descriptions.

My goal is not to convince you to try meditation. That is up to you to decide. My goal is to simply document my process as I investigate the domain of relaxation techniques. Think of this as an autobiographical diary study. I am doing this for science.

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