“Just ten minutes – you need it.”

I was wrapping up my yoga practice later than intended, which is quite the normality in my house. From people on the outside of the restaurant business looking in I often field the question “what do you DO with your husband working so many late hours?”

“I have a lot of interests,” I’ll respond. An impish smirk no doubt crawls across my face as images of me welcoming the midnight hour blowing on my flute or standing on my head in my yoga room come to mind.

Tonight I can’t sell myself on omitting meditation altogether. I take my seat with myself and the darkness.

I’ve come to relish the infinite black. I never really know what it’s going to reveal – adventure, suspension, neutrality – nothing or everything, nothing AND everything, it’s anybody’s guess.

“Boy, you’re sure active,” I observe as I start to settle in. More than the futile action of a grinding mind, it seems every part of me is in some kind of a protracted vibratory state.

Ok, duly noted. I partner with my breath and continue. Yip yapping thoughts elbow their way in as they always do, competing for attention like needy children.

“That’s nice,” I always tell them once they’ve been identified. “Breath” – I’ll gently redirect myself. I start honing in on that expansive, centered place that watches the thoughts, the vantage point from which your thoughts become but a sliver of all that is you and all that is. Tonight I cannot find it.

“My children were just a dream” – thought floating through.

“YOUR CHILDREN ARE REAL” a voice interrupts in a loud whisper.

Ok, that’s not my thought. Or me at all. The voice continues, in a clear tone this time.

“And building something, building something out of that thing that didn’t get to be something, that’s the hardest thing. That is truly the hardest thing.”

I carry on. Thoughts melt. I seem to lose awareness. What is this? Am I sleeping? No. Did I go further than usual into meditation? I don’t think so. As far as being the world’s deepest meditator, I’m so NOT a contender. And then it dawns on me that I can’t find myself. I can’t feel myself. I am scared. I am somehow….gone.

I open my eyes and slap my hands down on the wood floor with a gasp. I have to. The street light vaguely filtering through the blind reveals what looks like me in the mirror. The meditation timer app rings, my phone is now contributing a haloed glow to the room. I feel as though I’m looking at myself from somewhere else, as if I’m outside of myself.

As I begin to feel more reconciled, I wonder, did I leave my body? I am rattled. I stay in the moment and commence with some alternate nostril breathing as tears delicately slide down my face.

Life’s acerbic atrocities are quite the dissolving agent. The loss of my children was accompanied by the glacial erosion of my need for answers, explanations and universal paradigms. After all, if there is a broader holy reason that my husband and I don’t get to have a child while Osama bin Laden got to have twenty three of them, I am, quite frankly, not interested. My world view and life experience have become too intertwined in open ended-ness and in that which cannot be fixed ever and in the insufficiencies of “why?” and “reasons” to turn back now, especially when I have come to possess a comfort, albeit hard earned, with the non sensical.

I was told by my two grandmothers, via two psychics in quite similar and specific terms, that I would have children. So even of the spirit world I’m not in awe. I may believe in spirits but it seems they are more than capable of blowing their share of damaging hot air.

And so as I sit there wondering if I left my body, I also wonder if that was my ovulation hormones messing with my head, my mind playing tricks or my soul’s way of processing. Wondering, after all, is reality. It’s the answers that are often mere illusions.

That I was clearly touched by something is not to be poked or prodded, however. What I was touched by is likely irrelevant. That I was touched is perhaps everything.

So I do all that any human being really can do. I stay in my moment. I hold my damp face in my hands and surrender, once again, to the mystery.

13 thoughts on “Mystery

  • “Wondering, after all, is reality. It’s the answers that are often mere illusions.” I really really love this. And yes, all we can ever do is stay in the moment.

    Sending hugs.

    • Thanks. I thought of Gertrude Stein’s “The answer is there is no answer” quote that you like when I was re-reading what I had written. Sending hugs right back at you!

  • Beautiful, raw, painful, wise… Thank you for sharing. I should meditate. It occurs to me that perhaps I don’t because I’m avoiding reality and avoiding my grief. It’s just overwhelming. I wonder too about the why’s and reasons. It doesn’t make sense and it’s so hard to accept. I often feel disbelief, like this just CAN’T be true. But I guess it is, even though I guess there are still questions I need to answer for our situation. I try to tell myself that we’ll adopt and care for and love children who really need us, and maybe that’s why. Maybe the why is something else I’m supposed to do? Maybe there is no reason. I like what you said about surrendering to the mystery. That’s really all we can do, isn’t it?

    • I hear you on the disbelief. It’s only recently started to fade for me a little here and there. For the first two years after our last treatment I felt like I was constantly walking out from underneath rubble post earthquake, or like I had just been in a car accident.

      As far as meditation, it can be a healthy way to connect with other parts of yourself besides your mind, but it’s definitely not an end all be all. I think of it like a tool, like as in a wrench is super useful but you wouldn’t use it for every last thing. There were plenty of times, especially when I was undergoing treatments, that I stayed away from it. Sitting is often not the right thing when things are too intense, and it’s wise to dose the processing of massive emotional pain (most yoga teachers are not knowledgeable when it comes to grief and trauma though). It’s possible you’re doing a good job following your instincts! In the end I give myself as much credit for staying away from it when my instincts said no as I do for attempting it. Just my 2 cents in case you end up exploring, sorry if this is too much! Five minutes or even two minutes is a good starting point.

  • So captivating and intriguing. Thanks for writing it all down! I like how you write about erosion of finding answers (of something similar). I have experienced the same thing. I so enjoy your posts. Xo

    • Thank you. I was recently reading about how the world not making sense and the process of sorting this out and recalibrating to one’s new world view is a hallmark of grieving and processing loss. It’s a journey one has to fly solo, I suspect, so it helps me to remember that it’s normal, not just for me but for other people too.

  • What an interesting story/experience! I’m not a believer in the whole god/higher power thing, but these out of body experiences do make me pause to wonder if there might be more to it. I really admire your ability to meditate. I’ve tried but I literally can’t get my brain to settle for long enough to do it.

    This is the line I’m holding on to: “And building something, building something out of that thing that didn’t get to be something, that’s the hardest thing. That is truly the hardest thing.”

    • For me it’s about (hopefully) letting my mind settle to some degree, but watching and observing it either way, because sometimes it doesn’t really settle. In regards to my brain, I try to set reasonable expectations:-)

  • Brilliant writing, Sarah. Your posts are wonderfully evocative and so satisfying for the substance they deliver…

    I can so relate on the importance of meditation and yoga for the release and exploration that results … especially loved this description: to give space and quiet to the “yip yapping thoughts” that, yes, “elbow their way in as they always do, competing for attention like needy children” …

  • Sarah…this is so beautiful. What resonates with me is “What I was touched by is likely irrelevant. That I was touched is perhaps everything.” This hand we have been dealt can do a number on any thoughts one might have on a higher power, spirituality and all that entails. I have so many issues with this, I think the question of “why” is fading but will never go away. I am wanting to work on meditation but have yet to give it a real try. Your post inspires me. Not sure that this fits I was recovering from hysterectomy several nights I woke to what seemed like little shadows dancing in my bedroom. I know it was the two I lost and they were with me and I loved it. I do believe things, thoughts, spirits, come to us as exactly as they are meant to. Thanks so much for another powerful post.

    • Thanks for sharing your experience, Steph (as always!) and I’m glad you got to have a comforting one. The journey of connecting to that which was never fully embodied continues to mystify me. I’m with you on the spiritual ramifications of the hand we’ve been dealt. Alan Wolfelt (he’s a grief educator, I highly recommend his books) points out that significant loss is, among other things, a massive spiritual wound and grief is in many ways a journey of the soul. He’s also very practical, so he’s a combination of things that work for me, anyway.

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