‘English Meditation’


The doors to the great hall are open.


I gaze in.


Now where do I put my shoes?  No, not there, that’s where the mats and cushions are.  Ah here it is.


I gather a mat and cushion and plonk myself firmly at the back of the already assembled group – all sitting, silently contemplating, looking zen, being zen, totally knowing what they’re doing.


So what do we do?  I nonchalantly gaze around.  More people enter, they sit, they are.


I wait.  I wonder.


A door opens, a light goes on, I perk up anticipating a start.  But nothing.


I wait.  I wonder.


So what will we do?  Who are these people? Where are they from?  How do they know what to do?


The ceiling attracts my attention for a while.


More people arrive, depriving me of my back row status – making me feel observed, uncomfortable, clumsy.


I sit up straighter.


I wait.  I wonder.


What time is it?  How long have I been here?  Should I put my hands a certain way? Will I get back ache?  Will my legs go dead?  Yes, yes they are going dead.  Oh damn, they hurt.  Ow ow ow – pins and needles.


I slowly move my legs, extending them tentatively out in front of me.  My feet don’t belong to me.  They are numb thick slabs of nothing at the end of my legs and then slowly, slowly, the pain comes, the pain of blood trickling back to my toes.  I wiggle them carefully and gradually sensation returns.


I return to my lotus seating position.


I wait.  I wonder.



Am I doing this right?  How come her back’s so straight? Why am I so rubbish at this?  How come no one else is fidgeting?


I close my eyes.  I focus on my breathing – in slowly, out slowly.  Breathing in love and kindness.  Breathing out sadness and hate.


I wait.  I wonder.


So when will this thing start?  What will we do?  What’s everyone doing now?


I resist the urge to peep and I go back to my breathing.  In and out, out and in.


A voice, mumbling to my right and then it’s gone.


What did he say?  What will happen now.


I sit, I shuffle, my back is hurting.  Oh damn my back is hurting so much.  And now my legs are going to sleep again – damn me and my shuffling.


Concentrate on your breathing Sara – In…….. Out…….In….


Nope, it’s no good.  My back hurts and my legs are numb.  Ouch!


Just breathe.  Just breathe.


Birds singing, wind chimes gently tinkling, a breeze softly blowing and I breathe.


I breathe and I smile and the sun shines.  My eyes are closed but I can feel it, see it’s warm glow behind my eyelids.  Peace.  Breathing in and out…


A tune.  I can hear a tune.  Is this it?  Is it starting.


But no, the spell is broken, somewhere behind me a phone is ringing.


Rustling, the phone silenced.  I try to return to my place.


By legs are killing me.  The pain of lack of circulation so bad I want to cry.  I rock a little but it’s no good.


Slowly I try to stretch out my legs.  They protest, the tingly stinging pain making movement torture.  The bulbous lifeless slabs of flesh that make up my feet weighing heavily as I extend them further.


I sit and wait for the pain to subside.  For the time when I can extend my legs fully and begin the process of once again supplying blood to my feet.


I sense movement next to me.  I am not alone in my pain.


I get up to leave.


When did we start?  I’m not sure.


When will it end?  For me, here and now.


I collect my shoes, walk out of the hall and into the sunlight.


My encounter with ‘English meditation’ over for today.


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