Meditation and the Brain

Topics: Electroencephalography, Brain, Meditation Pages: 18 (6737 words) Published: May 6, 2013
Meditation and the Brain
Caitlin Scofield


"It is the face of our shadow that stares at us from across the iron curtain." - Jung

       I have never known nor feigned to know what it is I step into when I step forward. Last night I happened upon a question that shook me and left an unsettling feeling in my bones, like a call to look in, to traverse through darkness unarmed. I was beckoned to seek the meaning of my life. I have a way of intellectualizing things, of making them more complex and globalized then they need to be, but this call came very clearly, most distinctly; it was only my life and my existence that had come into question.        I had been walking towards the deeper woods, as the pale green tassels of the evening descended through dark trees, bringing the whole long day along and down with that ethereal light. The redwoods bristled with an aching glory; their silver strung branches hung deep green needles that rustled and whispered together like beautiful women, and I felt myself a guest to the forest, a willing companion to this quiet splendor. The mouths of night opened, as Dusk, a vanishing song, slipped beneath the obscure horizon into the white scarves of the clouds and the tendrils of mist. Time drips away. From the silent and sightlessness sprung my delicious and dark joy; as I tumbled over the slippery skins of the earth and made my way blindly through the trees. I reached forward, I reach up. My fingertips, wet with dew from the knee-high ferns, met the bodies of each redwood as I clambered in the direction of what seemed to be streetlights. I swam outward. The blackness of the woods and the lightness of my body met, dancing, sweating and stinking of dirt and bark and hot skin.        I stopped to rest, and as I did, I noticed I was afraid. Not of the dark, but of the blackness. I had heard once that life is a sliver of light between two black poles; the first was that which preceded birth and the second, that which follows death. These two black poles are identical, and yet I spend so much mental energy worrying only about the second pole. I sat on the mossy damp bed of the forest floor and meditated upon this.        Meditation is the kindest choice I have ever made, the fullest choice, and I get to make it every day. My mind fell then, softly, into that open space; empty and yet brimming with movement, with the outlines of life. There was no 'Me' here, but instead 'I Am', and it was certain. With this certainty was born a joy, a sorrow, a great beginning to some expanding dance. Then, I slipped. This slipping was different: my brain pulled my mind into blackness, then my mind centered my brain; redirecting my attention to the present breath, as the breath carried into me every present moment, filling my body with truth (which is all, right now) and passing clandestinely to the next. With every in breath, every exhale, all of the present passes itself unto all of the proceeding present. Existence as we know it changes with every conception of existence as we know it, and this is a beautiful thing. But everything shifted or fell tumbling slick and quiet, into blackness. This was not the meditation I knew prior; the timelessness, the absence of words and the language which holds them, the present (ever present) pounding each moment into the next like the near imperceptible thrum of my heart. This was not the firm but kind discipline of constant attention and refocusing of attention, nor was it the gentle flirtations of past and future that the attentive mind watches for and redirects with indefatigable alacrity. This was many cold hands, reaching up from the benthic caverns of the surrounding dark, grasping at thoughts and casting black shadows on black forest walls. They held on, and I let go.        Only once before had the blackness been so actualized, so visceral and present. I was seven then - staring up at the white ceiling in my room which had filled with blackness. I...
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