I am in a dark place. Physically and psychologically. My eyes are closed to the world and it is only the darkness that is showing itself. The past: things I haven’t thought about for years. The future: Cohesive plans forming. And these words too, inscribed onto my memory to be transcribed later. For I have no hands to write with, nor eyes to see with or ears to hear with. I am but a mind. My body is trapped in a prison now for six days and the darkness is closing in. Memories upon memories, I cry, I laugh, great emotions stir within me. I am in a dark place. Am I the darkness that is enveloping me? A moment of doubt, but profound and soul shaking – a powerful shudder from the subconscious.
I shake my head and come back to the task at hand, to feel the sensations on the body. Bit by bit I move my concentration through the various parts. Starting at the top of the head and moving my attention downwards. I pause at my shoulders, I fail to feel even the touch of my clothes on the skin. I wait there, but my mind doesn’t. It has gone back into the realm of dreams: Thoughts about love, work and family. I realise where it has gone and I wrench it back into the present. I concentrate once again on my shoulders waiting for a sensation to emerge but my mind has gone off again like an unwatched toddler. This time the past turns into the future by some spurious linkages in the sub-conscious. I find solace in the plans of the future, of seeing my girlfriend after three months apart, about starting a new life together, in a new country with a new job, learning a new language. Once again I realise where I am and bring my mind back to the present. I scold myself for enjoying such thoughts for the object of the exercise is to develop an indifference to all things that change. And everything changes.
I leave my shoulders and move my attention to the torso, to the arms and to my legs. My bottom and legs are in pain, I have not moved since starting this exercise and I have no idea how much of the one hour sitting has passed. I fight the impulse to open my eyes and try to view the pain objectively to accept it as it is knowing that it will not last forever. The pain subsides for a few seconds but is soon back in full strength.
I notice the darkness again, it has been with me all day. Right from the wake up call at 4am to now, somewhere between 6-7pm and the last hour of ten hours of meditation. I fight against it, accepting for what it is, a darkness can only be darkness if we take it as such. ‘Equanimity to all sensations’ we are told, ‘to all thoughts’… ‘to pain’. The pain, the darkness is all too strong. I find solace once again in memories. Then the static of the tape starts and the silence of the meditation is broken by the chanting coming from the speakers and the hour is up.