I didn’t know too much about meditation, but I knew that it was associated with mystical insight and deep relaxation. I figured that maybe someone at the meditation group might be able to explain some of the things I’d been experiencing might. So it was that two days later I found myself walking rather coyly through the doorway of the uni Counseling Centre, looking for room W108.
The first thing I noticed about the meditation group was that I was the only guy. I walked into W108, and there were six girls sitting in chairs in circle formation. I smiled nervously and sat down. Nobody was talking. Maybe they were already on another plane of existence or something.
I was not exactly confident around girls, so I was hoping some other guy would walk in. But in the end we had eight females and just the one slightly perspiring guy. Perhaps I should have said that there were two males. The guy running the group certainly wasn’t a woman. The clump of hair under his nose gave him away. Someone should have told him the 80s were over.
“Hi everyone, I’m Geoff Masters,” he said in a soft voice that didn’t quite match the body. Even sitting down, he looked about as tall as me, and that’s pretty tall.
Geoff began by asking us why we were here. I started to panic. What was I doing here? It suddenly struck me that even I didn’t know. So when my turn came to talk I did what I always do when in a jam.
“My name is Greg. I’m here for the babes.”
Luckily everyone laughed.
“That’s funny, Greg,” Geoff said with a tiny smile. The guy spoke with a voice that was just a bit too even, like he’d been heavily medicated for several decades or something. “I’m sure we all appreciate your humour. Any other reasons?”
I scratched my head, and tried another approach. “Well, to be honest, I’m not really sure why I came. I don’t know much about meditation. It was just something about the poster outside, I guess.”
I caught the eye of the pretty girl sitting a few places to my left. Her shoulder length blond hair bounced slightly as she smiled and nodded. That was when I felt it again, that tingling feeling forcing its way up from inside. Of course that could merely have been a primal urge from the lower abdominal extremities.
I looked away immediately. If one wants to protect his reputation as a loser with the chicks, one has to be very vigilant about these things.
“Interesting,” Geoff mused. “It’s true enough that we don’t always know our motivation for doing things. Maybe you’ll gain some more insight later.”
I nodded as if I knew what he was saying.
The cute girl spoke next. “Hi. I’m Amanda,” she said. “I’m a bit like Greg, I guess.” She flashed her blue eyes at me. I think I must have turned red. “I wasn’t planning to come, but something dragged me here.”
It was the lunch hour and we only had 45 minutes for the group, so Geoff didn’t waste time. “Let’s meditate, shall we?”
For the benefit of first-timers like me he explained that there were many different kinds of meditation, but that on this day he was going to lead us through a simple breathing meditation. We moved our chairs apart, and two girls sat on the floor. They were the ones who looked like they’d grown up in an Indian ashram and could levitate at will. The rest of the novices, like me, sat in our chairs.
“Just relax fully” Geoff said, his voice even softer than usual. “Just feel your breath moving in and out of your lungs. You are feeling relaxed and at peace. As thoughts of the past or future enter your mind, just gently acknowledge them and release them. You are not trying to get rid of them or change them. Just let them go.”
It seemed to be working. I found myself relaxing deeply. It was all quite peaceful, and I began to drift into a light dreamy state of mind, like I was floating. It wasn’t long before it came back: the blue light. I wasn’t expecting it at all. Still, it wasn’t disturbing. In fact the light was gentle and reassuring. I felt comforted. So I just allowed it to be, and began to go into a really deep state of mind. I’d never been that deep before. It was still, quiet. Peaceful.
I was drifting in that quiet emptiness when something came to me. Out of the blurriness an image forced it’s way up from the deep. It was a man’s face, rustic like a sailor or farmer. It was the eyes that did it. I “looked” into them (don’t ask me how, as my own eyes were closed), and as I did the sheer brilliance of them cut into me like a laser. They were like blue, clear and brilliant like warm ice. The man did not open his mouth, but the words came clearly and gently to me.
“Love your fear.”
I jerked back into normal consciousness, eyes wide open, springing half out of my chair. My breathing had gone from relaxed and deep to short and shallow, and my heart was pounding against my rib cage. I looked around nervously. All the girls still had their eyes closed. Only Geoff was looking at me, moustache slightly twitching. I smiled nervously, sat down right away and tried to act like nothing had happened. But I was spooked. I spent the last ten minutes of the meditation trying like hell to avoid going back into that quiet space, and resisting the urge to run out of the room.
Finally, thankfully it came to an end.
“…and now, feeling yourself fully connected with your body, right here and now, open your eyes and return to the room.”
I opened my eyes again and looked around. Everyone looked calm, at peace.
“So how did everyone find that experience?” Geoff queried.
He looked around the group, but I was sure the question was intended for me. I was feeling positively paranoid. Maybe meditation wasn’t for me.
Several of the girls spoke up. Each said something about it being peaceful and relaxing.
“What about you, Greg?”, Geoff said. I wished the nosey Tom Selleck Wannabe would have minded his own business. Since no one else had mentioned anything about messages from bearded beings with ice-like eyes, I gave a fake smile.
“Great. It was, yeah, cool.”
Geoff just nodded, his all-knowing smile creasing up his face.
“Did anyone experience any fear?” he asked not quite innocently enough. Luckily one of the girls, a plump dark haired thing I recognised from my English Lit class, spoke up.
“I felt a bit nervous when I started to go too deep. It was like I was scared of losing myself or something. Sorry, that’s a bit weird, I know.”
“No. it’s quite normal actually,” Geoff consoled her. “The mind tends to be comfortable with the status quo. But you can‘t fight the mind. Next time you get scared, just breathe into the fear. Don’t try to block it. Just observe it.”
“Just love your fear”, I offered. I was shocked I’d even said it.
“Exactly!”, said Masters. “Love your fear. I couldn’t have said it better myself.” He smiled at me. “That’s some great wisdom for such a young man.”
“Well, I uh, took it from someone else.”
Moments later we stood up to leave. The door looked extremely inviting. I was not sure what prospect terrified me more: having to speak to Geoff or any of the girls. I mean I did half want to say something to Amanda as we headed out. She was rather cute and everything. But this was no time to change a lifetime of cowardice.
Unfortunately fate intervened, or should I say my size 12 left shoe. I trod on Amanda’s heel as I walked too close behind her on the way out. She turned around.
“Uh, sorry,” I mumbled. Yeah, I had a way with words.
Inexplicably, she smiled when she saw it was me. I had the distinct impression she fancied me. She must have been blind or something.
“No, it’s OK,” she said. “Did you like the meditation?”
“Yeah, like I said, it was great.”
“I liked it too. Might help me relax more after the stress of study. I’m definitely coming back next week. Are you coming again?” We stepped out into the sunlight. With the exception of one or two pimples on her chin, she looked just a pretty in the light of day.
“Well, I might me.” I said, inspecting my shoelaces. “I’m a bit busy this year, though.” Come to think of it, my schedule was looking pretty full for the remainder of the decade.
“I hope you come back,” she said as she walked off. “It would be good to have a guy around.”
What the hell did that mean? I half walked, half ran back to the dorm. There was no way on earth I was going back there again.
There was fear, and I was not loving it.