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


again I wonder what I’ve done


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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