Wednesday, May 14, 2008
Not Breathing In Bellevue
If you're not caught up on my blog, this will make more sense if you read this and then this first.
Well, here in my second day of the Art of Living Foundation's First Course, I cut out. Just took off. They'd been blaring the loudspeakers and I had a horrendous earache (a congenital ear problem renders me unable to tolerate sustained loud noise in an enclosed space), so I tried explaining to them, but I'm not certain they understood fully; they insisted I remain, but didn't turn down the loudspeakers to any noticeable degree.
The leaders were adamant that I stay. So I started out on one of the breathing processes, which they insist is the most important one, and my ear was throbbing wildly. We embarked upon a type of controlled hyperventilation at an escalating pace until I couldn't keep up. Something came over me, and I didn't think at all. I just got up, packed up my yoga mat and walked out.
I think I wanted to escape.
I feel like I'm free.
We were admonished not to open our eyes no matter what happened, no matter if we heard crying or screaming or laughter. No matter if it was our buddy (we each have an assigned buddy for the course duration) or someone we came with..."No matter what happened" was emphasized again and again. No matter how scared we got. Our eyes were to remain closed. Closed. And if we felt numb or started to shake or began to have odd things happen to our bodies WE WERE NOT TO OPEN OUR EYES!
Oh yeah, one more thing. About 10 of us 160 people didn't do their homework. I was one of them. It was more breathing exercises in our hotel rooms or homes. I didn't do it because the only way I could stand knowing I was going tonight is forgetting about breathing for a while. Plus it's my tough luck if I don't get everything I could out of this, and I'm willing to accept that responsibility. Sure, I could have lied, and possibly some people did (who would know if you did your breathing exercises or not, after all?) but that's not me.
So the high-level highly respected teacher told us that if anyone didn't do their homework tonight and tomorrow, our buddies would be punished. Really. He really said that! I checked with my buddy to make sure I understood (I only get about a quarter of what's said there because of the accents).
That stuff triggered my cult past too much. Been there, done that. Before the exercise I was willing to submit to their wishes and give it a try even with a throbbing ear. It was important, they said. Life-changing. The most important evening of the course. And I'd paid good money to learn the breathing techniques. And God knows, I want to overcome my problems with depression. But after I fell behind in the controlled hyperventilation I'd felt I'd done my duty. I felt totally compelled to leave. It was kind of a compulsive fleeing thing.
It was the eyes shut instruction that enabled me to leave without anyone trying to stop me. Their eyes were all closed. But I kind of felt like if they had seen me they might have tried even harder to stop me, you know? Probably it's just my cult background talking, and they are most likely just nice people who want me to have this wonderful transformational experience of the Art of Living.
But I'm still glad I left. I'm the type of girl who always follows the rules, but in this case I am so relieved. I feel blessed and grateful tonight.
~Photo by Spluch via Cute Overload