This Is What You Get

           Picture waves lapping gently on the shore . . .

           Every time I reach the ninth pose, the pain sweeps over me like a wave that has gathered up rocks and other hard debris to break my body. The pain shoots like electricity. And while I fight this off, struggles to submerge myself —

          The phone rings, fracturing my concentration further. Easy distraction is no longer new.

          My concentration, or lack of it — It hasn’t always been like this. Three or four years ago meditation was always good, warming, opening me up to a wash of sensory impulses that brought a kaleidoscope of images to mind before I would enter into the deeper, clearer trance of non-thinking and non-being. But it isn’t like that anymore.
          Again the phone; this caller leaves a message. I can’t quite hear the words; I do know the voice. . . . I’m not a cell phone person, but I own the most expensive one with the most expensive plan, and I hardly use it. . . . I should lose the landline. . . . Too many friends?
          It’s something like drinking poison now. It’s as if I’m collecting some kind of evil energy that can’t be overcome through stretching, centering, deep, deep breathing.

          It's all because of the pain.

          These thoughts bring me further out of my meditation; I’m almost fully conscious. My buttocks begin to ache now too, and I try to adjust my seat. Not much hope for inner peace tonight. But I’d known that even before I started. . . . Nothing like a positive attitude going in.

          In my mind’s eye I see my Master shaking a finger at me:

          This is what you get, he says. You’ve seen age come upon you now, to assault you in every way imaginable, and you haven’t discovered how not to stop this from destroying your meditation.

          Without any further direction or encouraging words, Master Hong disappears.

          If only you could turn back the hands of time. With meditation, the older you became, or so I'd believed, the better you would get at it. But this was obviously not the case.
          Meditation can be dangerous, which is why you train under supervision before you are allowed to practice on your own. But it is – was — invigorating. That really was then, and now is a different story.
          My whole routine, through various different minute adjustments, has overall undergone so much change that I can’t even seem to remember how to get back to the regularly practiced routine that had always given me renewed inner peace with each next practice. Everything is out of kilter. I barely recognize my form anymore. And the more I struggle against this kind of self imposed agony, the worse the pain becomes, day after day.
          The alarm goes off, and it’s time to get up off the rack. Another wasted session. But maybe tomorrow I’ll miraculously snap back to the younger old me. Maybe.

                              Maybe, he thought, maybe tonight he would meet with some success?
                                                                                                              – Orphan Paul

Mahalo for reading!

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