The Sleepy Art of Meditation from a Frustrated Individual Who Had to Learn How to Relax

As a dancer used to the exquisite torture of hardcore ballet, hiphop, African, modern, and baton classes, I, at first did not see the what the big hoopla was about yoga when I was first subjected to it as part of my course load as a dance major. I have since changed my entire mind about this interesting form of exercise, but… that doesn’t mean that I wasn’t at one point an unbeliever. Here, I’ll share my musings and thoughts from those long ago days where I didn’t appreciate the freeing art form of yoga. Here is what turned out to be a prose poem about learning to meditate which is what we learned before we actually started yoga.

This is boring. How is this less difficult than all of the other things we’ve done in class, yet, two hours per week have been carved from our schedules to accommodate this non-exercise? It’s been an hour and I haven’t broken a single sweat. I’m tired… this is my 3rd class today, and…the teacher let us put our sweatpants back on. All of us wear sweatpants. No reason to put on real clothes when you’re going to sweat out your soul in the dance studio. Apparently, I’m not so good at lying still…zzzzz

The hour is over?! The hour is over. The other dancers are moving around. I can’t believe I slept through this session. She calls it meditation; I call it nap time. Though I do feel strangely rejuevanted, I prefer to sleep on a mattress.

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It is Wednesday again. We have returned to practicing this exercise that is not exercise. She tells me to let my mind be free, but it cannot, as it is a prisoner to my thoughts. Restful waking. You can rest during the waking hours if you let the tension drain from your toes…ankles, calves and shins, and I? I am falling asleep again. This is a disaster.

The next Wednesday. Well, last week, I stayed awake for a whole 15 minutes. Felt a tingling in my toes and started drifting at “knees”. We are up to our hips. I’ve become a sack of liquid against the floor. This is what I’m envisioning. Removing the bones from my flesh and just be a river, be a river, be a river. I am an ocean. I have lost my destiny. Felt the ache fade from my belly and I am…sleeping again.

Wednesday. I am determined. Determined to be relaxed. Feeling a little insecure because I’m sure people can hear my heavy breathing because…everyone else has figured out how to stay awake and…my breasts feel warm and moist beneath my sweatshirt. My back sticks to it a little. I feel my shoulders drooping, sagging, melting, becoming hot liquid as I remove my bones and soak myself into the floor and zzzzzz. I have failed again.

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Wednesday. I am determined. An extra hour and a half of dance classes will not prevent me from conquering the urge to …sleep. I was dozing. Or was I? Felt a tingling in my breasts as they became weightless. Don’t think I can feel my toes though I’m not supposed to move them anyway. I feel I am flying in space. My boneless body can now defy gravity and I can look down at myself and criticize a dancer for not moving. A jaw twitch. We are up to our shoulders. My mind is racing, lapping, double-lapping and I am tired so tired when the energy drains from my ears.

Silence. I can hear silence. Not my own snores or the soft breathing of the other souls made prisoners by their bodies. And I don’t think I could move if I wanted to and I can feel blood coursing through my tiny veins, the hard fluttering of my heart trapped beneath my rib cage. I am still. I am still awake, but resting. Feeling fluid and airy as cool steam. Is this free? Is this what it’s like to have a quiet mind? To see nothing when I close my tired eyes? This might be better than dreaming.

I am awake. I am dazed when she calls my name. It is like waking from another world where peace and freedom reigns. I am smiling. Curling my chin into my chest with my private victory. Laughing in my soul because I have been alive while escaping my body at the same time.

Freedom haunts me. Ghosting around me as I dance. She is always my silent partner and so, now, I reach for her. Take her into my liquid arms. Fondle her. Kiss her. Breathe her in. She has welded air from this heavy skin.

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