Yoga Zombies

I was at a meditation retreat last week. Do you know what they’re like? Grainy, leafy food in portions your pet fish couldn’t survive on, no talking, no reading, no car keys, no wallet, no calling home. It isn’t Club Med.

Just meditating, dawn ’till after dusk. It can be lonely. But some fantastic things happen.

Here is one very cool thing. Picture this: 5am, maybe. (No watches.) Still dark out, anyway. I come out of my room each morning, slowly and silently, and head toward the meditation hall, dressed in pajamas.

As I walk down the hall, every third or fourth door opens, and another person in pajamas comes out, quietly closing a door behind her. We look like something from a zombie movie, except that some of the zombies have mats under their arms.

We walk in bare feet to the hall where we each pick a spot on the floor. We begin our practice. All you can hear is breathing and the soft thuds of feet jumping forward and back. It’s impromptu Mysore. No one organized or announced it.

It goes on for perhaps forty minutes, people drifting in and out of the hall. All of this happens before we begin meditating for the day.

And, holy mackerel, even though we don’t speak, don’t even look at each other for the most part, even though we’re about to begin another grueling day of seated meditation, I am deliriously happy.

I don’t want to leave the impression that meditating is awful from start to finish. Other very cool things that happen on these retreats are an empty, quiet head and a sense of peace that will knock you over if you let it. I love it. Days later I can still feel it.

I feel a need to express some thanks to these zombie yogis. They were my family away from home. We showed up for each other first thing in the morning on days when it mattered.

So to these men and women I don’t know, and to the ones I do know but didn’t say a word to: thank you, thank you, thank you.You made meditating a little easier, and you made me fall in love with yoga all over again.

Thanks to yoga zombies for making me fall in love with yoga, and thanks to you for the conversation.

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