“Visualize yourself sitting somewhere quiet and peaceful,”
the voice in the exercise tells me. I imagine a park bench on the side of a walking path and there I am sitting with my feet planted on the ground, Forrest Gump style.
“Imagine an area of white, glowing light in the centre of your chest, and an ever so slight smile across your face.”
I do. I see the white light emanating from my chest and it appears to be intimately tied to the slight smile that is barely noticeable across my lips.
As the meditation continues, I’m supposed to watch as the white light expands and eventually fills my body – beginning from my chest and radiating outward until even inch of my body is glimmering white light. As the light expands through my body, the smile on my face expands. I’m reminded by the voice on the recording that the light brings with it happiness and joy, and these emotions infiltrate my whole being. The smile on my face an indication that the worry, stress, and anxiety of my life is being replaced by joy, excitement, and happiness. Eventually my body on the bench is replaced by a shining light that is almost too bright to look at. Just the light and an overwhelming smile is all I can see.
“Now, bring your attention back to your breathing. Make yourself more aware of your body.”
So I do. I concentrate on the feeling and sound of my breath going in and out of my body. I predict the natural progression of the meditation.
“Now imagine that white, glowing light in the centre of your body – in the centre of your chest. Feel that ever so slight smile across your face.”
And I do. However, unlike the vision of myself sitting on the bench, I can’t visualize the spread of light through my real body. With each inhalation I permit the light to radiate a small bit further, but my mind gets caught and an unwelcome thought comes floating down the river of consciousness in my mind. As I am distracted by each thought, I prevent the light from spreading beyond my chest. I label the thought as “worry” or “anxiety” or “feeling” and let them flow back out of my consciousness with at little disturbance as they arrived. But then I am stuck with the light, still unable to shine beyond the depth of my chest. I take a deep breath and start the visualization again – but the distraction comes again, and again, and again, and again. When the end of the exercise arrives, the light hasn’t spread beyond my chest despite the recorded voice suggesting that it has overcome my entire body, like it did when I imagined myself on the bench.
There is something preventing me from experiencing this full body feeling of joy. I can visualize the white light and joy engulfing my body from afar, yet I can’t allow it to happen when it is my real self. It seems as though the possibility of experiencing such freedom of the mind is only ephemeral, but I cannot ever be the one to experience it. Such is my exercise of the mind; such are the mental roadblocks that prevent me from experiencing freedom.