I'm sure that everyone has stories and experiences of "first times". Most of these types of experiences are universal and recalled by people with nostalgia and fondness and sometimes, maybe even regret. This is my story from one of my "firsts".
About 10 years ago, I was just beginning to practice yoga. I'd always been intrigued but had never explored this wonderful method of movement and meditation. I have to admit that at the time, I just thought of it as an alternative form of exercise, and really had no idea of the vastly diverse forms of yoga. Nor was I aware that yoga was a form of meditation.(I'm still mostly ignorant of all the different forms of practice.) All I knew was that it kept me flexible, was low impact, and I didn't have to run! That part was great for me! So, I found a small yoga class locally to participate in once a week, and I invested in a set of yoga tapes. My son was only one and a half at the time, and it would be so funny to see him come into the living room while I was practicing a sun salutation and throw his arms up in the air and say "I'm doin oga, mama".
After some time of practicing at least every other day or so, I decided to bust out the meditation tape that came in the set of yoga videos that I had puchased. The thought of meditating was never even a glimmer of a thought that had crossed my mind prior to this. As a matter of fact, even prayer was not something that I was comfortable with. I was born and raised as a Catholic and the extent of prayer in my life centered around bedtime prayers when I was a small child, and the rote prayers taught in catechism (sunday school) classes until I was about 14. While I had been doing some post yoga relaxation (corpse pose), I didn't even realize that it was considered "meditation".
So, on that warm, sunny day, in the middle of my living room, on my yoga mat I sat, and attempted my first "meditation".
Well, Ieshia, how do you meditate? I suppose I sit here cross legged with my hands on my knees, classic finger and thumb touch pose, close my eyes, and breathe. Well, ok then, here goes.......wait a minute...what is this? Close a nostril, breathe in the other, pinch it closed, open the other, breathe out? well, ok, we'll do that for a while. What's that guy saying on the video? Imagine what? oh...ok....relax the muscles...feel for tension.....relax some more...hmmmm...this is pretty nice....
I don't remember a concept of time during this meditation...it could have been five minutes, or twenty, what I do remember is that at some point, the instructor said to imagine that warm oil is being poured over your body and flowing over you, relaxing your muscles even further........and that's when the most wonderful, profound feeling happened to me. What I felt was the presence of another, another in the room with me, pouring a jar of oil over my head and down my body, telling me how greatly and profoundly that he loves me....me, just the way that I am. That he knows my struggles and my pains and that it doesn't matter, for I am Divinely loved and cherished.
That was the day that my search began. That was also the day that my healing began. Sitting there in my living room with sobs racking my body and tears running down my face, I KNEW, knew beyond a shadow of a doubt, that I am a child of the Divine...and that there is so much more to the Soul and Spirit of a person than I was ever taught by any one religion.
That was also the day that God Got Bigger. No longer was God only the one I was taught about, He was also now a part of every person I ever met, or will meet, or will never ever come in contact with. God was also inside of me, where I could go to talk to Her whenever I needed to. While I tend to fall back on what I've been taught, and I do most consistently identify myself with those teachings, I no longer allow another to define my viewpoint of those teachings. I make up my own mind. Most of all, I go back to my own experiences and judge what I learn by what I KNOW from those experiences, and by what I FEEL in my heart. That was also the day that I learned how to listen. In the quiet of meditation, I wasn't just talking to God any longer, by saying prayer, but learning to listen and to feel His presence in my life. He was always there....He was never elsewhere.