They filtered into the room, old and young, smart and dumb, all smiling exchanging gentle nods and a few murmured salutations. It was not necessarily a rule of the class that they didn’t converse, more a tradition. This was a quiet space for contemplation and attentiveness. Afterwards there would be tea, coffee and biscuits. It was this practice of having a snack afterwards that bridled against Devon’s idea of what meditation as a life habit was supposed to represent. In previous classes their teacher, Claudine, had spoken of the flow of a healthy body, and the use of meditation to achieve this. Devon rather thought that the toxins held in coffee were antipode off a health body, mind and spirit. He kept going to the class in spite of this.
As the room filled and they all took their places on cushions spread in a loose circle on the floor, Claudine entered. She was dressed in her usual loose fitting gaily coloured clothes. She carried an air of calm with her as she moved, her cheeks lightly flushed, not by rouge, but some underneath warmth. As she moved to a cushion in the circle all eyes were on her, and she passed her gaze amongst them, smiling and mouthing hello’s to some.
She breathed out smoothly as she sat.
“Hello, everyone, I am glad to see you all. Namaste.” She bowed her head slightly and the others in the group returned her greeting.
“I hope you have all had a relaxing week, and you have been practicing what we have learned so far.” Some nods from the class, some slightly shamed expressions.
“This week, I wish to try out a new form of Yoga, one which we haven’t spoken of prior to now, but some of you may be familiar with it. This branch of the study of Yoga is called Jappa Yoga, okay, and the way we meditate using this form of Yoga is that we sit, like this, our hands held in the relax position which you will all be familiar with, and we chant, okay.”
Some of the class looked at each other, widening their eyes, others simply moved their bodies into a more comfortable position.
“So I am going to hand around these scarves, please take one and we will be wearing these scarves on our heads, as frankly, it will get a bit loud, so this helps to block out the noise, while also helping to focus our attention on our own voices.”
“While using our voices we will try to focus our thoughts on what is known as Mindfulness. Mindfulness means being conscious or aware of the world around you. So now we begin. First I will chant, then you repeat what I say. Don’t worry if you don’t understand the worlds, don’t even try to understand them. Just follow the sound of my voice.”
Now, with the class wearing scarves around their heads the way an old woman might wear it, they closed their eyes and Claudine began chanting.
At first Devon found it hard to follow her voice, but as the rest of the class joined her, he found it easier. The words she said were in some other language. For over an hour they chanted, repeating one phrase for a period until time lost all meaning. Thought became impossible as the chant took over their breath, their being, and in a wonderful moment Devon was able to feel the hum of the other students in his throat and in this way he could touch their energy and he felt a swell in his heart for them.
After an hour the humming ended and the energy wash out him, but the memory remained, and something of the afterglow stayed, the room felt very good to its inhabitants.
Claudine talked about mindfulness some more, about considering ones place in the world, considering the world in general. The class decamped to the kitchen area. They passed through a corridor to get there, and on the way passed some packets of incense, some scarves and statues of far eastern deities. All of these items were labeled with a pricing sticker. Devon, seeing this, considered his place in the world, and the world itself, and was displeased. He had thought that here he had found a place where spiritual learning was encouraged simply for the goodness it provided, but it seemed that was not the way.