Touching the Darkness

Touching the Darkness

four a.m.

outside in the chilly air

the gong chimes

I remember I’m not in my bed

on retreat

meditation

again I wonder what I’ve done

autopilot

my feet carry me to the shower block

icy air plays with my ankles

wake up, get ready

the hall is itself

dark cool and patient

I sit on the cushion

my feet tingle in anticipation

I’m here

meditation begins

my mind, a Brumby

refuses to yield

skittish it runs here and there

I hang on waiting for peace

pictures begin to come

in the theatre of my mind

weird things

long past, deeply hidden

my gut tightens 

I sit

it’s the rules, sit

sit still

sit with it

sit and wait

the pictures unnerve me

my breathing quickens

and my heart

I feel it in my chest

my heart runs as my feet want to

it will pass

so I sit a tangle, jangle of conflict

fear rises a serpent

coming from the darkness 

enticing escape

I open my eyes

I shake my head gently

dislodge, go away

I don’t want you any more

but I sit

in the quiet

 in the darkness

I greet my darkness

I feel it take hold of me

I wrestle to stay present

it will go away they said

so I sit

looking at fear, looking at me

time passes

I go through it

This poem is a recollection of a Vipassana meditation retreat. I feared going there, an insane irrational response to something unseen. I followed the instructions given and spoke to the teacher many times. The experience gave me a glimpse of life beyond my imaginings and the traumas of the past. Finally, I understood that I had a choice about what was part of my life and what wasn’t.

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