The First Time I Meditated

When I was 20 I lived 3 blocks away from the San Francisco Zen center. At the time I was living in Lower Haight and noticed some hippie characters cruising down the hill along with monks in full robes to file into a large brick building- The SF Zen Center. I knew they were meditating but had no idea what that meant. 


The contrast of people intrigued me. Partly because I was completely enchanted by the seventies Haight Ashbury culture and partly because I was searching for my definition of God/spirit/purpose; whatever you want to call it. One afternoon, as I was walking home from class I decided to follow the crowd inside.

I distinctly remember being behind a guy with long dreadlocks carrying a skateboard as my stomach turned upside down. "I hope this isn't like a members only thing," I thought. I had no idea what I was doing. When I stepped inside everyone was packing their things into little cubbies, taking their shoes off and getting in line to enter the meditation room; hands clasped and heads bowed. I awkwardly followed suit, stumbling my way to a black circular cushion facing a wall. I couldn't help but giggle.

What is going on here? I looked around the room. Everyone was perched on identical cushions facing the wall, their eyes open making absolutely no noise. I could hear my own heart beat.

Finally a bell like sound rang which I would later realize was a singing bowl and I assumed "it" was about to happen. Whatever all these people had gathered here for was about to go down. Nothing happened. For 5 minutes...10 minutes.....15 minutes. Nothing. I gave up and relaxed into the deafening silence. I found myself focused on a tiny piece of lint stuck on the wall in front of me. Then wildest thing happened. I can only describe it as my imagination coming to life. It felt like my thoughts went into the lint or somehow detached from my body.  I was flying through outer space, playing with color and music like tangible objects and following huge orbs of white golden light. It was so real. I saw old memories spliced between flashes of deep sea diving with whales and conversations with characters that I swore I knew of years but didn't exactly recognize. It was literal magic. And then the bell sound rang again. It was over. 

"So I guess that was meditation," I thought, not fully understanding what just happened. I was hooked. That evening as I walked up the hill back to my apartment smiling I planned out the following day, excited to get back to this new world I had a piece of lint. 

to be continued....

Interested in meditation but don't know where to start? Listen to my short guided meditation below: