I Meet the Space, the Space Meets Me

An interesting thing happened last night at my first offering of Guided Meditation and Present Moment Awareness Practice at Wagtail Coffee & Yoga in Chichester.

No one turned up.

Well… correction I turned up. And so, as planned, I became still and quiet and I listened to the silence and the sounds. I looked at the space around the objects. I observed my breathing and watched thoughts moving across the screen of my mind: there is no one here, I don’t think anyone is going to come, people don’t want peace and quiet, they want to go shopping and to eat and drink and people are cold and sick and tired, they want comfort and to be indoors, where it’s safe and warm… etc. etc.

Again, I turned my attention toward my body, my breath, the feeling of sitting in a chair, the space in the room, the sounds rising from the silence and falling back into the silence.

I began to gently surrender to the space and the silence. I allowed it INTO me… I felt my stomach lurch with the thoughts: “You look ridiculous. What must people think? Any minute now, they’ll be kids jeering at you through the window or those people leaving the restaurant will be thinking: as if he’s going to solve any problems sitting there like that, all on his own, in an empty room. What a fool!”

I continued to breathe into the feelings of anxiety, of humiliation, of feeling exposed and on show. “You don’t know what people are thinking, those are your fears, your thoughts and insecurities. What do you actually know, here and know, if you don’t consult your thoughts and feelings?”

Breathing. Sensations in the body. Stillness. Rest. Sounds coming and going. A motorbike screeching along the road, laughter in the street, candlelight, the chinking of cups and plates in the cafe, chatter and the sput, sput of the coffee machine. Two sweet little dogs ambling out into the cold night. 

Closing my eyes, feeling gratitude for the warmth in my body, the feeling of my feet on the floor, the beautiful shades of green and grey in the room, the soft candlelight… all of it here, alongside the feelings and the thoughts. Every thought and feeling that was jagged or sharp was felt in this silent, still space.

10 minutes before the end of the session, Danielle, the events manager came and sat with me and I led a short guided practice – as I had been doing for myself, since 6:30pm.

Together, we noticed how free this moment already is. How it doesn’t mind what appears or does not appear. How deeply accepting it is. How it embraces all sounds, all thoughts, all feelings, all movement, all people… the space was meeting us and we were meeting the space.

When I got home, the presence and sensations of comfort, reassurance, protection and the sense of being held stayed with me all night. “Come back next week” I imagined the space in the Yoga studio saying to me. “I’ll be here, waiting for you. It’s so nice to get to know you better. I’ve got so much to share with you”.