One of the ultimate promises of the practice of yoga is a state of being called Samadhi. The dictionary definition of Samadhi is this: “In samadhi the mind becomes still, one-pointed or concentrated while the person remains conscious.”
I don’t know if my years of yoga practice served me or not when I encountered this state. At the time I was 12 hours in to a migraine headache. I found Samadhi out of sheer surrender to intolerable suffering and an instinct to survive. It’s nearly impossible for me to put into words what I felt. My experience of migraine is not just piercing, acute, knife-like pain, but is also accompanied by massive pressure and a chemical toxicity. The whole cocktail is a mix made in a special, horrendous place in hell. My brain loses it’s ability to match speech with thought. I am unable to tolerate the slightest light or sound. Any stimulus at all sends torrents of electric pain through my nervous system. I am reduced to manhandling my skull in any way that might shift the pain and pressure and give me even a second’s reprieve from the onslaught. I move, wrapped in an eye mask, in pitch dark from bedroom to bathroom and back again, often in and out of a hot bath tub to plunge my feet into a bucket of ice water.
The energy in my head space was like the Aurora Borealis. Normally in meditation what I “see” behind closed eyes is a simple, comforting vacuum of blackness or grey. The migraine brought violent, swirling, bursting, electric vibrations that I can only describe as a fireworks explosion of energy before my consciousness. I was seeing it without eyes.
So here I was, writhing in pain, beyond the point of space or time awareness – that had long past. I may not have even been able to recall my own name. Head smashed into the comfort of a lumpy down pillow, I felt my consciousness start to leave my body – just at the hands and arms – and then fall back into the container of my skin and skull.
In this suddenly heightened state of witnessing it all – detaching and reattaching – I experienced that when a thought drifted into my space that was one of my random fleeting daily worries about the yoga studio class schedule or some drama with a staff member, or the unloaded dishwasher, empty cat food bowl – searing, heavy energy would come into my space. It had a molecular weight to it. And when I could guide my consciousness back to empty – no thing and everything – just being, I would experience peace and relief. Even though the physical pain was still there, the energetic, heavy compression would evaporate. So I played with intending – not really using words – but bringing into my space thoughts of sheer love, compassion, support and kindness to myself, and nearly all of the suffering would disappear.
I instantly knew, from the direct experience of it, that thoughts have weight, thoughts have a distinct energetic footprint and that they impact the body.
Once the migraine was gone, I was also left with the knowing of how to go back to the space of no thing and everything. A place that is empty and full at the same time. A space in which there is absolutely no right/wrong, good/bad, no judgment whatsoever. The space that just is. It doesn’t even feel like an I AM, to me it’s a WE ARE. PERIOD. And in that space all is well and always has been and always will be and there is no time. All moments are there and no moments are there. It’s not moments. It’s just energy.
And I am much more aware of my thoughts and the words that I choose to speak, in my head and with my voice. For energy is never created nor destroyed, it simple changes form. And I am conscious like never before of how my thoughts and words are shaping the energy of this world.
I am committed to clearing my migraines from my life experience. And my intent is to come to Samadhi when I can through the deep compassion and quietude of my yoga asana, meditation and inquiry practice.
But I have to say thank you to my migraine for teaching me – through sheer survival and necessity – that the void of nothing is not a scary place. In fact it is all that is and in it there is freedom.