I’ve been thinking a lot about roller coasters lately. I used to love them when I was younger. Everything about them.
The anticipation of waiting on line, zigging and zagging through the metal bars with friends and strangers. Sometimes waiting an hour in the hot sun, then finally making it into the shade of the building. The buzz of the conversation and the overhead fans. The growing excitement as I made it to the stairs and finally, through the turnstile.
Anticipation building. Energy rising. Adrenaline pumping. Can you feel it?
Come with me for a ride.
Sit in the car. Put the harness on. Shift around until you feel comfortable. Maybe think for a moment, What the hell am I doing here? Or perhaps, This is gonna be awesome?
Everyone is in. Let’s start rolling. A smooth, flat few seconds, and then it’s the first hill. Hear the click click click click. Feel that feeling in the center of your chest, in the pit of your stomach. Click click click. Tilted back in your seat, looking straight up at the sky.
You know what comes next. How steep will it be? Click click click. Is it getting louder? Click click click. It’s so loud. And then…
a second of silence. No sounds at all. And every cell in your body is still, and silent, and aware of this very moment.
Everything you know disappears, the law of gravity is broken. Suspended in air, you hold your breath, your stomach flips and then, swooosh! You’re speeding downwards.
You realize that you’re not breathing. You make a mental note. On the next drop, I’ll remember to scream.
Looking ahead you see the enormity of the coaster. We’re gonna be here for a while. This is much bigger than I thought it was.
You adjust in your seat. Make yourself comfortable. As comfortable as you can be in this moment. And try to breathe.
As the coaster rises and falls, rises and falls. You see a curve up ahead. You will be turned on your side. You brace yourself. Another steep climb, the clickclickclick. You breathe in deeply as you approach the summit and let out a scream that lasts all the way down.
It’s so much better when you scream. So much better than holding your breath. So much better than holding in your fear/excitement/emotions. You vow to scream on every loop and descent!
Moving faster and faster now, through the ups and the downs, the twists and the turns. They pass just as quickly as they come. You feel as if it will go on forever, an endless wave, an infinite loop, when suddenly, it is over.
You are back where you began. You lift your harness, breathe a sigh of relief and step back out onto firm, solid ground. It takes you a moment to get your footing.
You are shaken. Shook. You are awakened. Woke. Your body is filled with sensation. You are alive. Aware. And back here standing on solid ground.
A sigh of relief. A moment of contentment. You can’t wait to get back in line and do it again.
Now imagine I’m not talking about roller coasters at all. Imagine that I am talking about meditation. Because, of course, I am.
Sit down, strap in, and enjoy the ride. Feel the anticipation, hesitation, fear, hope.
Listen to the buzz of conversation in your head. Hear the incessant, maddening clickclickclick of your thoughts. Is it getting louder? It’s so loud! Hear the thought that this is not gonna be good. Wonder again, Why am I doing this? Feel the trepidation. Feel the energy gone wild. Let it build. Let it happen. Ride it all the way up. And then, the crest.
Are you holding your breath? Exhale. Exhale big. Exhale as big as a scream. Exhale yourself right into that moment when it’s nothing but pure sensation. You are completely alive. Completely aware. In touch with every cell in your body.
You vow to feel all of the feelings. The ups and the downs, the twists and the turns. They will pass just as quickly as they come.
It’s all spread out before you, bigger than you had imagined, There is the thought that you want this be over right now. And there is a wish that it could last forever.
And then the bell rings, and the ride is over. You open your eyes, and slowly rise, and step back onto solid ground. It takes you a moment to get your bearings.
You are shaken. Shook. And you are awakened. Woke. Your body is filled with sensation. You are alive. Aware. And standing on solid ground. Back where you began. A sigh of relief. A moment of contentment. You can’t wait to get back in line and do it again.
Come, take a ride with me. Sit down.