• Atsuko

A perfect roommate


(Thoughts from the recent meditation retreat)

My roommate was Clare. I saw her on the first day before the silence started in our room. We exchanged our names and that’s pretty much all we talked. She is 30ish and had the most charming smile.

During the retreat, people generally tended to take the walking meditation sessions lightly and some used the time to rest or have refreshments. I always spent the first 10 minutes doing some yoga postures before walking half-heartedly for 20 minute, then went off to the loo. Not Clare. She was always walking in the front garden very very slowly at each session.

The evening sessions ended after 9.30pm each night. By the time I made a cup of chamomile tea and came up to the bed room at 10.00pm, she was already in bed, leaving my bedside light on for me. So I quickly and quietly got changed and jumped in bed also, and sat up and drank my tea in the darkness. Then I spent most of the night restless while she slept soundly.

At 6.15am when the bell rang every morning, she jumped out of bed like a spring and went off to the meditation hall.

Then I never saw her again in our bedroom until bedtime.

After the very last session on the final day, she came looking for me to say good bye before her taxi arrived. We hugged and she was gone. We exchanged only about five sentences for the whole retreat.

I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect roommate. I thought I was pretty dedicated but she really was a diligent and studious meditator. I felt ashamed to have read a book (which was forbidden) in the bed room and to have skived off from the walking sessions. It would have been too easy for 2 women to have small talks in the bedroom quietly. If it wasn’t for her, I probably have stayed up late and have fallen asleep during the meditation.

After the retreat, people asked if it was hard. No, it wasn’t hard at all. It was easy to meditate in such an environment. My silence was supported by other people’s silence and my meditation was a done deal. All I had to do was to turn up to the meditation hall when the bell rang. I was surrounded with 50 other people sitting silently.

What is really really hard is to be back. Here I have to tame my own lazy self, and persuade it to sit. I have to refuse to negotiate with my mind telling me that I only have 10 minutes this morning. I have to get up to do yoga instead of going back to bed although I stayed up too late last night.

Now I look back, I almost wonder if my perfect roommate really existed. I almost miss sneaking back and sipping my tea quietly in the dark silent room. Almost miss staying awake at night listening her sleep.

meditation retreat bed room

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