Wednesday, May 14, 2008
Breathing in Bellevue First Night (and Wellness Wednesday)
Well, I made it through the first night of the Art of Living First Course (Breathing Seminar). I wrote more about it yesterday, but that was before I really knew what it was.
I made it throught the first night. It was a true learning experience for me. This has to be the most challenging adn trying thing of this type I've ever done.
First of all, the group of participants consisted mainlyof men. Young Indian (as in from India) men. About 70%. Some Indian women and a few Causcasians, but mostly men. Boy what a great experience in seeing how people from other countries have to deal with life here in the US every day. It's one thing to know about it and another thing to actually go through it. Most of the lecture was done in English, but peppered with words of another language, which could have been Indian or Sanskrit, which might be the same thing. Sadly, I am totally ignorant of this culture. I didn't understand much at all, because the speaker had a thick accent.
The main speaker was a highly revered teacher from India, a very holy and respected man. He seemed to be entertaining and funny; unfortunately I didn't get the jokes. I memorized some key phrases that were important in the context of the seminar but let the rest blow right by me. I am proud and overjoyed just to have finished last night. There were some bonding exercises and crowd-pumping-up type things that you find in churches and cult groups and pep rallies. Mostly, though we were breathing, breathing, breathing. All different ways. Every way I've heard of breathing and more. 8 in, hold for 2, six out, hold for 4. In out. Hands level. Hands on your back. Hands on your belly. Count and hold. Again. Again. Again. This went on for over three hours. No breaks.
We were told we couldn't do a bunch of things. Like eat meat, drink coffee or tea, drink alcohol, sleep no more than 6-7 hours, go to the bathroom without a buddy, etc. (There are more!) I used to be a "follow the directions" type girl, and now I just take care of myself and take dictates like this with a grain of salt. You know, I'll do the ones that are generally healthy but if something doesn't serve my health I'm not going to stress about it. Like stopping all caffeine cold turkey, sleep deprivation (which for me is less than 8 hours), or going to the bathroom when I need to---whether or not my delightful young Indian buddy Venky is available to accompany me. It will be interesting to see how that works...a bathroom buddy.
I respect "holiness" in a teacher from any discipline, but I am a big fan of personal autonomy, and subjugating things I need for a group is hard enough for me to do just on this very limited basis. Like going and sitting on the floor in a room for certain hours in order to get a certain result. Especially when they start really late (as in beyond the agreed upon times) and end really, really late at night (again, an hour late). That's hard enough. And when they exert social pressure to get compliance. I just hate that (because of my cult background). Maybe I'm more "American" than I thought, but there it is.
So I got "permission" to wear a pair of "house shoes" instead of going barefoot, because of my foot issues. And I'm wearing earplugs because of a congenital ear problem I have that doesn't respond well to loud microphones in small spaces or people close to me shouting. And I am sitting against a wall (not on my knees and haunches, as required) since I have knee issues. Sounds like fun, eh? I'll be you wish you were here.
Seriously, even though it's definitely not fun, I am wanting to learn about breathing, and that's something I'm sure I'll be able to do. And I'm taking care of myself, which is the "Wellness Wednesday" part.
Today I'm looking forward to the rest of the day, during which I'll write and read and walk and work. And to tonight, when perhaps my attitude will change. If not, at least I have shoes, earplus, the wall, and the ability to think for myself. Hey, I didn't always have all of those things, and I'm grateful.
~Picture by Cute Overload