What to do? I ask my team every now and then. Or I tell them what I want, and they go fetch it. It's a dream team, really. Team Hannah. Such a shame that I keep forgetting they're here for me.
Let this story be a reminder.
It's August 2013 and I'm in the province of Florence for a 10-day Vipassana retreat. That is in short: don't talk, sit still, stay with the sensations in your body and stop responding to them. You will feel pain, tickling, numbness, cold, heath, etc. You stay neutral to all of them, equanimous, it is what it is. By not responding to them, they loose their function and eventually they will dissolve.
How to do this meditation properly, is step-by-step explained on day 4. That session takes about two hours and you're supposed to not move, keep your eyes closed and undergo and do the whole thing.
This story starts on that day 4. It is my 5th time doing a Vipassana retreat. So I know what is about to happen. I'll tell you:
Honestly: I can't sit still for two hours. It hurts too much. Sitting in half-lotus posture and not moving for so long means to me: cracked hips, numb foot, screaming organs, stiff neck, shoulders above my ears, burning back.
I told you, pure torture.
Why the hell would you do this? I hear you asking. Well, to me, this meditation technique is an amazing way to clean up my life. These sensations are stuck energy in the body. Memories of which the emotions are still active. Consciously or unconsciously they're having an effect on my life. By releasing these emotions, more energy becomes available to me.
Besides this whole cleaning up process, the meditation is also a great training not to respond so quickly to situations in daily life: let it pass.
Life gets lighter. That's why the hell I do this.
The first time I did this meditation was a total eye opener. Observe, stop responding, let it pass. It was painful, but the outcome and insights were SO worth it. I forgot about the pain.
Problem after that first time was that I wanted the outcome and insights without the pain. I hated the pain. I feared the pain. The pain became a monster. And today, on this day 4, this fear shows up as utter panic.
Half an hour to go before the 2-hour session starts. I'm hiding. I'm in the little forest near by. Time is ticking. It feels as if I have to go to the scaffold. Or for an surgery without anesthesia. I'm restless. Like a calf that somehow knows she's going to the slaughterhouse.
I'm wailing. "I can't do this." Walking up and down the little pathway like a lion in captivity. Crying. Mumbling through the tears. "I can't do this." Talking to the trees. To the birds. To the ants. To whatever I think has ears. "I can't do this. I want to leave. I'm not going. I can't do this. Please help me."
I hear the gong. It's time.
I can't go. "Please help me," I keep wailing, "Please, please help me."
Suddenly I hear something. A message without a sound. A voice from nowhere: "We are with you."
Hm? I ask.
Again: "We are with you."
Me: "What do you mean?"
Soundless voice: "We are with you."
The crying has stopped. I repeat those words: We are with you. It feels good. We are with you. As if I'm not alone in this. We are with you.
They are with me - whoever they are.
I watch the last people climbing the steps to the meditation hall. I really have to go now, otherwise they would go looking for me. Alright, I say with some newfound courage, let's go.
And up we go.
I walk into the hall. Take my spot. Sit down. Wrap myself in blankets. Close my eyes. The meditation starts.
I swear, for two hours straight I sit rock solid. They are with me. Every time I want to peek through my eyelids, I am being reminded: We are with you. Every time I think about moving my body: We are with you. I follow the meditation with ease and patience.
For two hours I am being held by somethings, someones around me. They carry me. No pain, no struggle, no discomfort. I am in a very safe and solid place. I am in the center of me. In my body. And they are with me. Around me.
At the end of the two hours I feel a smile from ear to ear. I conquered the two hours. I am the victor. I feel ecstatic. I feel rock solid. I don't want to open my eyes, I want this moment to last forever.
I'm the last one to get up and leave the meditation hall. Instead of going straight for lunch I run back to the forrest. "Thank you," I say to the trees, and the air, and the leaves, and to whatever is there with ears. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I'm laughing out loud. I cry again, this time tears of joy. And then I ask my new friends: "Don't go, okay? You can't leave me. Will you stay a little longer?"
Of course I don't expect an response at all, I mean, hello, I'm not crazy.
But there is an answer. And it quiets me down instantly:
"We are one."
I get it at once.
We are one, I repeat softly. We are one.
I can't believe it and in the same time I KNOW it. We are one.
This is my team.
They won't leave because they can't. There is nothing to leave. We are one.
This is Team Hannah.
I'm the front lady - visible in this world. And right behind me is my team, invisible. They are with me, we are one. I'm running this body of flesh and blood. Pretty blindly - must say. But I have a helpline now: I can ask my team. Anything.
It was them who kept me up straight for two hours. It's them who kept me in my center, where there is no discomfort, no pain. It was them coaching me through the whole session. It was my team at work. With me.
Thank you. I bow. And I bow again.
With a radiant smile I say goodbye, or see you later, or come on, let's have lunch.
Completely in love I run-and-dance to the lunchroom.
Where me and my team are enjoying the best pasta ever.
We. Are. One.
PS Feel free to leave a comment below. Happy to hear from you. X
THE ART OF BEING HM DE GROOT
On one hand creating is a matter of just doing. Simple is that. But on the other hand it takes a lot to get to that point of creation. Besides techniques and materials it's a lot about... yourself. It goes up and down. From being in the flow to being convinced it all makes no sense. From exhilarating discoveries and breakthroughs to lonely moments in the endless desert of emptiness.