This trip is beginning in precisely as it did last year, with ten days of silent immersion in a Vipassana meditation center. At ten hours a day, this equates to about 100 hours of meditating. This hefty mind-screw is just about the weirdest buzz around and will set the tone beautifully for the next five months.
What drives a person to meditate? In a word: Paris. I moved there almost six years ago. Raging work pressure, drowning in a language and furtively averting the pain of a recent divorce, something had to give.
Where the idea to meditate first originated will forever remain a mystery. But when I did, something happened. Granted this something ethereal but nonetheless familiar and seemed to tap on the door of certainty to remind me of something I'd forgotten. It was also addictive and so I dove in, determined to re-discover what that forgotten something was.
As many of my close friends can attest to, I am a true Gemini. This is in the sense that I’ve got two distinct sides to my personality. And yes, they even have names: Yoga Alex and Bender Alex. You can guess which one does the meditating. So it was, on the eve of my 37th birthday I got distracted. After five months of Zen, Bender Alex re-joined the party and nudged Yoga Alex to the curb. My existence has been on and off and on and off and on and off and on and off like this for the last five years.
Have I mentioned a certain lack of moderation?
The crux of the above challenge lies in the re-entry. When one personality abruptly swaps out for the other, this has at times, lead to situational awkwardness (particularly as Bender Alex jumps onto the scene (tah-dah!) seeking outlets to expend her excess energy). The control struggles of these personality-morphs are not always pretty and I’ve been gradually working toward a more graceful entry and exit process; it’s a work in progress.
One aspect of this pattern on which I remain steadfast is that meditation is the key; it provides clarity and centering that cannot be otherwise achieved. Even if employing the self-discipline I dream of is as elusive as the Loch Ness Monster, I am more than capable of planning a block of time to further my practice. By signing up for a program with simple, yet clearly defined rules, I can effectively trick my brain into acquiescing to a regiment I would undoubtedly design a loophole for if left to my own devices.