I think I managed to get to about my right elbow, so about ten minutes, before the pain in my hip became so excruciating, so loud, that I just couldn’t focus anymore.  I tried. I tried so unbelievably hard to follow my instructions and focus on that small patch of skin, irrespective of any other sensation in my body.  My blind gaze, tunneling towards my elbow…elbow, elbow, focus on the elbow, but my hip…I don’t know how to describe the sensations I was going through.  It had taken on a life of its own.  Twisting and grinding, and tearing itself apart.  It was burning and raw, and so loud.  I couldn’t tell if it was angry, or just in desperate pain.

I knew that in this hour it would be impossible for me to maintain my focus.   “Anicca, anicca, equanimity” Goenka’s words flew out of my head, as I gripped tightly onto my knees, caved my body inwards, felt my cheeks dampen with tears and drove every ounce of my energy and attention towards my hip.

I got through the marathon…I can do this!

But, the intensity of it all, was like nothing I’d ever experienced before.  Experience every moment…moment to moment…let it appear and disappear, arise and dissolve.  Every hair on my body was standing on end, every muscle constricted, sweat was pouring down my neck, back and stomach….every moment a layer of pain, upon layer of pain, rushing and surging and crashing against each other.

I could have walked.  I could have unfurled my legs and stretched myself out.  Given up on the whole thing, and thought – next time…I’ll deal with this next time, but I’d come this far, I didn’t want to stop.  It felt like I’d been warming up to this all this time, and now I could finally, finally do the work I needed to release that hip.

I saw fire.  It was swirling red and black in my hip, the rest of my body fading away.  I saw a glimpse of a thick black thread, encased in something.  I dived deeper and deeper, body beginning to shake.  A painful scream locked tightly in my throat.  Feel the pain, layer upon layer.  Experience the rise and fall, rise and fall.  The image became clearer.  The thread was encased with a row of tiny fists, with white knuckles.  They were my fists.  Hundreds and hundreds of tiny fists, all grasping so tightly…they were my fists!

I was starting to understand, that this pain I was in…this holding onto all of those things…it was me.  It wasn’t anybody, or anything else…it was me.  A difficult thing to face up to…your own responsibility in what hurts and debilitates you.

I began to breathe.  With every exhale, I fought the pain by relaxing.  Imagined I was in all of those difficult yoga poses at once, and how breathing releases…helps you to surrender.  And so that’s all I did.  Breathe and breathe and breathe…amid the shock waves of pain came rare moments of release and suddenly the fists let go, exposing the black thread sewn so neatly across my hip.  Pulling at the skin, but worn, I continued to breathe and release, my head flung back, and body was crumpled with exhaustion, voices screaming in my head, faces appearing, memories surfacing, images I hated seeing.  But I faced them, one by one, breathing, breathing, until I heard a snap and the black thread unravelled…dissolved, my hip dropped an inch and this white euphoric light began to rush through me.  From my toes, blasting through my hips, my upper body, surging into my chest, lifting me higher and higher, until it climbed into my head.

In my head there was black and white.  The black was the voices and the images…asking, inquiring, probing…what is this?  What is this light, this white, what is it?

The white was the silence  and peace.

I wanted to be swept up in the light, I wanted the voices to stop, but from somewhere inside me I heard the echo…”anicca, anicca”.

And so I let go, what will be will be, and that was when the black was swallowed up, when my entire body lifted up, euphoric vibrations rushing across my skin, through my organs, all around me, white light bursting out of me, trumpets blasting victoriously, echoing off the walls.  Could the other meditators see me elevating above the floor?

The final words that emerged from the black before I was released into that glorious white light was….”is this being?  am I jesus?”

Then there was nothing, but joy and silence.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Am I jesus?  Oh how I chuckled about that later, sitting up in bed enjoying the new-found flexibility in my right hip in Baddha Konasana.  It had literally dropped an inch.  Instead of my knee jutting up towards my ear, it sloped gently upwards and outwards, almost level with my left.  I thought back to Matthew in Koh P, and May.  How much they’d helped me.  I felt great love for them, and fell back into a quiet sleep.  Anicca, anicca…in that moment I had found my peace.