Eat, Pray, Love  一辈子做女孩

Going into that meditation cave every day is supposed to be this time of divine communion, but I've been walking in there lately flinching the way my dog used to flinch when she walked into the vet's office (knowing that no matter how friendly everybody might be acting now, this whole thing was going to end with a sharp poke with a medical instrument). But after my last conversation with Richard from Texas, I'm trying a new approach this morning. I sit down to meditate and I say to my mind, "Listen--I understand you're a little frightened. But I promise, I'm not trying to annihilate you. I'm just trying to give you a place to rest. I love you."

The other day a monk told me, "The resting place of the mind is the heart. The only thing the mind hears all day is clanging bells and noise and argument, and all it wants is quietude. The only place the mind will ever find peace is inside the silence of the heart. That's where you need to go."

I'm trying a different mantra, too. It's one I've had luck with in the past. It's simple, just two syllables:

Ham-sa.

In Sanskrit it means "I am That."

The Yogis say that Ham-sa is the most natural mantra, the one we are all given by God before birth. It is the sound of our own breath. Ham on the inhale, sa on the exhale. ( Ham, by the way, is pronounced softly, openly, like hahhhm, not like the meat you put on a sandwich. And sa rhymes with "Ahhhh . . .") As long as we live, every time we breathe in or out, we are repeating this mantra. I am That. I am divine, I am with God, I am an expression of God, I am not separate, I am not alone, I am not this limited illusion of an individual. I've always found Ham-sa easy and relaxing. Easier to meditate with than Om Namah Shivaya, the--how would you say this--"official" mantra of this Yoga. But I was talking to this monk the other day and he told me to go ahead and use Ham-sa if it helped my meditation. He said, "Meditate on whatever causes a revolution in your mind."

So I'll sit with it here today.

Ham-sa.

I am That.

Thoughts come, but I don't pay much attention to them, other than to say to them in an almost motherly manner, "Oh, I know you jokers . . . go outside and play now . . . Mommy's listening to God."

Ham-sa.

I am That.

I fall asleep for a while. (Or whatever. In meditation, you can never really be sure if what you think is sleep is actually sleep; sometimes it's just another level of consciousness.) When I awake, or whatever, I can feel this soft blue electrical energy pulsing through my body, in waves. It's a little alarming, but also amazing. I don't know what to do, so I just speak internally to this energy. I say to it, "I believe in you," and it magnifies, volumizes, in response. It's frighteningly powerful now, like a kidnapping of the senses. It's humming up from the base of my spine. My neck feels like it wants to stretch and twist, so I let it, and then I'm sitting there in the strangest position--perched upright like a good Yogi, but with my left ear pressed hard against my left shoulder. I don't know why my head and neck want to do this, but I'm not going to argue with them; they are insistent. The pounding blue energy keeps pitching through my body, and I can hear a sort of thrumming sound in my ears, and it's so mighty now that I actually can't deal with it

anymore. It scares me so much that I say to it, "I'm not ready yet!" and snap open my eyes. It all goes away. I'm back in a room again, back in my surroundings. I look at my watch. I've been here--or somewhere--for almost an hour.

I am panting, literally panting.