Satnam: the Truth Within Myself

I had a lovely, funny, self-deprecating post all written and ready to go yesterday afternoon.  I don’t have the internet set up in my apartment (both in an effort to save a little money and to keep me from constantly streaming TV and movies on Netflix and never actually getting anything done), so I was going to put it on my flash drive and bring it to work and post it this morning.  And when I got to work today, I realized that the one thing I forgot to do last night was put the post on my goddamn flash drive.

So instead, I will try to put together the thoughts I was saving for later in the week, hoping to give my brain a little time to sort them out.  I’ll try to make it make as much sense as I can, but please remember this is an idea I’m still trying to process.

I have been formally taking yoga for about five months now.  I had done a class here and there and learned some useful stretching poses for dance warm-ups, but this is the first time I’ve ever practiced consistently.  And while I’ve grown a lot in strength and focus over the last few months, there is still one thing in yoga that I find tremendously difficult:  meditation.

There’s a reason I have heretofore only been able to meditate while actively spinning in circles.  My brain just won’t shut the hell up.  I have an active imagination on top of the multitasking mind with which most women are equipped.  Even now, I’m typing this and thinking about two or three other things at the same time.  While I can laser-focus when I need to, there’s still that extra processor at the back of my mind analyzing a conversation I had several weeks prior or putting together my grocery list.  One of my other dance instructors calls it your “lizard brain”, though I’m still trying to understand what exactly she means by that.

So when my yoga instructor has us lie on the floor and relax and let it all go, my mind still won’t stop.  I’ve tried letting the thoughts drift in and out as they will, only to find myself worrying about something I’m supposed to do later or writing blog posts in my head.  I’ve tried focusing on my breath.  I’ve tried calling out the Sanskrit words she instructs us to call to ourselves, all to no avail.  The last few times I’ve just given in, letting my mind continue to wander in the usual fashion and eventually staring at the ceiling waiting for the meditation portion of the class to finish.

But yesterday in the Kundalini class, something changed.  I can’t really pinpoint what it was.  But when we lay on our backs and she had us call to ourselves, Satnam, things got a little quieter.

Satnam in Sanskrit literally translates “true name,” but in yoga we use it as “the truth within.”  And usually when I’m in class and the instructor tells me to call to myself, Satnam, I’m thinking, “Yeah yeah, Satnam, the truth within myself, what am I going to eat for lunch?”  I blame it on my inner skeptic; there’s always a part of me that thinks it’s a little crazy that I’ll find “the truth within myself” lying on my back on a yoga mat with my eyes closed.

But like I said, yesterday something clicked.  I focused on the breath filling and deflating my body, thinking for just a moment about nothing except those words:  the truth within me.  What is the truth within me?  Is there really some mystical, universal truth within that I’ll only find if I can achieve that highest, purest level of consciousness where there is no thought, only existence?  Is that really even attainable?  Is the truth within me merely that I am human, like anyone else, a flawed creation?  Or is there something more to discover?

I couldn’t put these into words for a long time after class.  And it’s not like I spent the entire meditation period in this state; I did eventually lose that focus.  But when I left the studio, I was in a weird place the rest of the day (which I can only in part blame on a visit from the PMS fairy), my lizard brain now abandoning its usual course in favor of analyzing that one word:  Satnam.  The truth within myself.

I still have absolutely no idea what that means.  But I’ll be interested to see what happens in my other yoga class tomorrow.  Maybe I’ve crossed some kind of meditation barrier.  Maybe it’ll only get easier from here.  Maybe there really is a truth within me that remains to be seen.

Or maybe I’ll just end up staring at the ceiling again.

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