Tonight I moved on to the next stage of my mindfulness journey – I attempted a 25 minute ‘body scan’ meditation.
Now, those people who know me well understand that I have great difficulty sitting still for more than several minutes at a time. Indeed, I have been flat out sitting still for the introductory 10-minute meditations, so I didn’t have a great deal of faith that I would be able to sit through 25 minutes of it.
The meditation started off OK – a early turn of phrase from the narrator had me sniggering: ‘take of notice of all these places, bathing them with your awareness’. How does one bathe something with awareness, precisely?
After working my way up both legs taking notice of toes, ankles and other miscellaneous leggy bits, the narration centres around the groin area. Here the subject is required to focus on the pelvic floor and sacrum area. Firstly, I didn’t know that blokes have a pelvic floor – I thought that was a woman thing (?). And secondly, I must admit to not knowing what a sacrum is, let alone being able to focus my attention on it. I guess it’s sort of ‘down there’. So, let’s just pretend that I’m focusing on the ‘general area’. Thankfully, the narrator then asks us to focus on our genitals too, and I’m pretty sure I know where they are.
So everything was going along swimmingly until around the half way mark, when I started to feel weird.
Much of my body started to feel numb quite suddenly; my head became lighter, sleepy and I felt ‘out of it’; I started to perspire and became very thirsty; my body started to slump to the left of its own volition; and there was a rising nausea in my stomach. At around the 20 minute mark, I felt compelled to open my eyes, wipe my brow and reconnect with reality. At this point, I considered stopping the meditation altogether, but chose to plough on despite the discomfort. I’m not one to quit.
As the meditation came to its conclusion (with three sharp bells that had me jumping out of my seat), I wondered whether this is how it’s supposed to be. Is it normal for mindfulness to cause discomfort? Does this discomfort mean that it’s ‘working’? If it’s working, what benefit comes from feeling god-awful for about 15 minutes? Or is it just all the bad vibes, demons and negative energy leaving my body in some sort of ritual exorcism? Hmmm.
Maybe I’ll steer clear of the hard-core meditations next time, and just return to the familiar voice of Andy Puddicombe and his soothing ten minute sessions.