was last night. It was extremely basic but very interesting at the same time, because I know a good bit about meditation but have rarely actually done it. The teacher took us through some basic meditations – breathing, heartbeat, candle flame – with some movement and stretches in between. The first time I found it very difficult to focus; almost immediately I found myself more than half asleep and having those weird half-dreams or hallucinations that you get then. The room was very warm too, which didn’t help. The next two were better; it was easier to stay alert after moving around a bit, and by the last one I could actually feel myself slipping deeper into my consciousness for a moment – of course, as soon as I noticed that it was happening, it was gone, but it was still encouraging to feel that something was happening.
The one discordant note was that she spoke at length about her “spiritual leader” and founder of the centre running the class, a man named Sri Chinmoy. The fulsome praise of this man and the pedestal on which he was placed by his students put all my anti-religious hackles right up. At the end of the class we watched a short video about him, which made it even worse; and after that our attention was directed to a rack of books and CDs for sale at the back of the room, all written and composed by – you guessed it – Sri Chinmoy.
Fair play to the chap if he’s achieved personal enlightenment, sez I, but that kind of adulation feels wrong to me. I’m certainly willing to learn from anyone further along any of life’s various paths than I am, but I’m not going to follow anyone down any path.
I’m going to go again on Thursday and see what happens. It’s only four classes altogether anyway, so it may be worth sticking it out and just tuning out the encomiums.