Most days when I meditate, the experience is unremarkable. I sit in silence and allow my brain to defrag like a bogged down hard drive. A flurry of thoughts typically arises like a snowstorm and one by one the snowflakes melt and I’m left with a mind that’s still. Sometimes, however, I’ll have a more bizarre experience during the “thought purification process.” Today was one of those days.
As I settled into myself — noticing my breath, grounding myself into the earth — a whirlpool of color spun around inside my head. It wasn’t just a blur of color, though, it was a swirl of distinct thoughts and feelings melding together as waste drifting down a drain. It was like watching rainbow-colored bathwater wash down the pipes. I like this depiction of meditation as evolutionary thought cleansing.
What we have to remember about meditation is that it’s not a one-time thing. You might think, “well I meditated today and I don’t feel any different.” Or, “I’ve been meditating for a year, and I’ve never had a psychedelic experience.” The reality is that meditation, for most people, is not like a 1960s acid-induced astral projection. For most people, especially those who are just embarking on a practice, meditation is simply allowing a restless mind to settle itself. Thoughts pop in, we notice, they eventually make their way out, and at the end of the meditation, we feel a bit more centered than if we hadn’t.
As you commit to a meditation practice, you’ll notice subtle changes in your focus; how you respond to people and situations; and you may even notice physical changes like reduced blood pressure and overall stress reduction. When you keep a meditation journal, you can begin to record your own dirty bathwater meditation experiences as a method to gain insight into your Self, but there’s no goal in meditation. We’re not trying to achieve anything or go anywhere. As my yoga teacher told me time and time again (when I began my meditation practice), “We don’t meditate for the experience, we meditate for what it brings to our lives.”
Sit still. Close your eyes. Let the dirty bathwater of thoughts drain from your mind.
– A Charmed Yogi
Photo: Home & Garden Ideas