With Lauren's contribution to mindbodybrew this week, we introduce a new series of posts from a very important group in our community: our Teacher Trainees! We hope that by sharing some of their written assignments, we can expand the dialogue that began as personal reflection and group discussion. The following was written in response to the Trainees’ weekend of study with Shastri Ethan Nichtern, an event that never fails to get everyone thinking about meditation, Buddhist philosophy, and how to approach life in the 21st century. What stuck out to me this past weekend with Ethan, was the idea of finding a “middle path” and not ping-ponging between the two extremes of emotion: aggression/obsession and submission/internalization. I had never heard anyone explain humans in this way, but it rang so true. I have been trying through my daily meditation to find the middle path but, as Ethan said, it is hard to find because it is hard to deal with.
I came across something this week that really made this philosophy stand out for me. I was alone on the 6 train, coming home from yoga. I realized the compact awkwardness of the subway car with all the little conversations that you hear, but don’t react to, are just like the boxed in, internal mind. There is a strange, underground sense of being stuck with no way out, but instead of exploring this uncomfortable feeling, we zone out to avoid thinking about it. I’ve gotten into this habit of looking out the window behind me into the dark, swirling underworld of the NYC Subway lines. On this particular trip, I studied all the dark alleys and paths that lead to who knows where. It feels like a roller coaster, you notice the ups and downs, other trains passing with a too close for comfort whoosh of speed. You wonder what horrors this underworld has seen. You know there’s rats, and trash, and mud and filth. But then you notice the graffiti, you remember tales of the hobos and homeless who have lived in these hellish subterranean conditions. Urban myths perhaps? To think of that dark side of life reminds me of the aggressive, agitated side to the human psyche. You see the tunnels split into all these pathways. It’s hard to navigate and easy to get lost, so you have to mindfully come back to yourself...before you miss your stop, that is. Otherwise, you’ve gotten lost inside, in your own lack of awareness.