Invisible ropes of love
ON CROSSING THE BRIDGE OF YOUNG ADULTHOOD
TREVOR WELTMAN describes the rite of passage he has experienced moving from youth to adulthood, how he navigated this crossing, and how meditation and yogic Transmission supported him along the way.
“When I was young, there were very few elders willing to talk about the darkness;
most of them pretended that success was all they had ever known.
As the darkness began to descend on me in my early twenties,
I thought I had developed a unique and terminal case of failure.
I did not realize that I had merely embarked on a journey toward joining the human race.”
Parker J. Palmer
Traversing young adulthood in modern times is like hiking with a group of close friends and coming upon an unavoidable rope bridge covered in fog: the only way forward is through, but of suspicious carrying capacity and wide enough for only one person, you’re suddenly forced to go it alone, yet can’t see more than an arm’s length in any direction, say nothing of the other side.
You intend to walk slowly and deliberately, but are beset by primal fear pushing from behind, uncertain if the failure and therefore danger of your next step will send you down simply a half meter into shallow water, or a thousand to a point of no return, or instead just reward you with another opportunity to continue inching your way forward into further unknowns.
So you pick up your foot, place it down, and …
Do you decide to give up and try your best to return back to the places and people you just came from, or do you feel the ropes underhand and choose to trust they are leading you toward the where and the who you’re supposed to become?
This idea, while pitifully telegraphic, is the best articulation I have for how I oftentimes felt during my twenties.
And whether you’re still out there standing on the bridge right now, or you’ve already passed on through, you know precisely the feeling I am referring to: the desperation, the shock at finding yourself so suddenly alone, the feeling that no one really understands or cares, the pressure that it’s all on you to make these important life decisions with little to no confidence or experience to back them up, and the overall lack of clarity over where you’re headed.
This was exhausting, and as I reflect now on my experience “crossing the bridge” over the last ten years, the single thing above all that stands out to me as the root cause of pain on my journey was the extreme pressure I constantly felt to have had my life more figured out than it actually was at any given moment.
Meditation helped, but not entirely
I’ll be the first person to tell you how beneficial it was to have a sustained and disciplined meditation practice during my twenties. In fact, I would even go as far as saying that my meditation practice is why I – unlike so many others – didn’t wind up with anxiety, depression, panic, or drug or alcohol abuse. While meditation cannot cure these things, as a preventative it gave me the inner tools and resources I needed to cope with young adulthood that many of my peers didn’t develop.
And yet, I may be the first person to tell you that meditation in and of itself wasn’t the decisive factor. As a purely mental or emotional training I did for about 90 minutes every day, I benefited from Heartfulness in all the ways you’d expect to benefit from virtually any other sustained meditation practice: greater focus, greater concentration, greater relaxation, greater empathy, greater sense of purpose, and a greater ability to center myself during particularly trying times.
But what about the chronic, unrelenting pressure? What about the loneliness? What about the devastating lack of confidence I felt almost every day about the important life decisions I had to make or was putting off ?
Thus, meditation helped, but not entirely. While it no doubt helped ground me where I was, while I was still there, there was another force at play that gave me general confidence in the direction I was headed.
Yogic Transmission was my source of solace and confidence
The fact of the matter is this: I have been meditating in Heartfulness for nearly 13 years now and a trainer for over 10. In addition to my own practice, I have conducted literally thousands of introductory meditation sessions and given hundreds of talks and lectures around the world about this practice since 2007.
And you know what? The absolute last thing I want to talk about or write about publicly or privately is pranahuti or yogic Transmission. It’s the key aspect of Heartfulness, the “secret sauce” if you will, and I have no words or desire to describe it.
If I had to credit one thing above all
else that helped me navigate the darkest of times
during my passage through young adulthood into full adulthood,
it would undoubtedly be the surge of confidence
I felt every day in meditation,
feeling the yogic Transmission.
This is mainly because I feel like I sound crazy talking about something that by definition is undefinable. In the books it says “pranahuti is the life of life,” an “energy that is not an energy,” and – most unhelpfully – a “forceless force.” Furthermore, yogic Transmission is a deeply personal experience. It is precisely its undefinable yet experiential nature that renders it so intimate and therefore unspeakable to me. But, in the hope that my experience with yogic Transmission can similarly benefit another person so hopelessly caught “on the bridge,” here I am doing my best to share one of my deepest, yet-unspoken truths, and it’s this:
If I had to credit one thing above all else that helped me navigate the darkest of times during my passage through young adulthood into full adulthood, it would undoubtedly be the surge of confidence I felt every day in meditation, feeling the yogic Transmission.
Following the feeling
Yogic Transmission helped for two key reasons: first, it feels good.
Like a warm inner hug, or a comforting vibration, yogic Transmission cannot be quantified but can absolutely be felt. This is no different than love, joy, kindness, and other abstract concepts we are more casually comfortable with describing, as yogic Transmission is also “unseen but real.”
To quote one meditator, a mathematician by training and computer programmer by profession who used to sit with me many years ago: “This is not logical or illogical. The fact that I experience it but can’t quantify it means this yogic Transmission thing is actually a-logical, as in, it exists outside of any framework for logic I have ever learned, studied, or known.”
Thus, at times when I was really feeling anxious or worried about my future, this comforting feeling would wash over me and act as a welcome counterbalance.
From constancy to confidence
Second, though, and more important to young people: yogic Transmission gave me confidence. It was always there, waiting, ever accessible. No matter what was happening around me, I could sit down virtually anywhere and feel it in the same quality and volume I could feel it anywhere else.
Such a dependable constant is disproportionally profound for a young adult, as this stage of life is defined by its transience – the literal passage between youth and adulthood. Thus nothing is constant, and nor is it supposed to be!
Everything external is in a constant state of change, from schools to jobs, new cities to new people.
We are also changing internally – from new ideas to new identities, new dreams to new regrets, new habits to new fears, and also new confidences to new insecurities.
But no matter how overwhelmed I felt, I’d sit down. I’d start to meditate. And after a few moments … I’d feel the tug on my heart. I’d exhale. I’d smile. And many, many times, I’d find my shoulders would untense and lower for the first time that day.
Keep in mind, nothing had actually changed – the pressure still existed and was mounting. The job still needed to be found or quit. The girl still loved me or didn’t. The move either needed to be made soon or was already under way.
But the feeling overcoming me was the same one I’d felt on all the good days, too. It literally connected me in a powerful way to all the amazing moments I’d experienced after A+ exams and long nights with friends and epic road trips and even my transformational journeys to the far ends of Earth, meditating in beautiful places with beautiful people from all over the world.
In essence, then, yogic Transmission, by its constancy above all else, taught me that finding balance and sanity during the rapid transitions of young adulthood was less about seeing through the fog to know definitively where I was headed, than it was about learning to reach through each moment I found myself in to derive comfort and confidence in every other place I had already been and felt, both positive and negative.
One year north of 30 now, and this “practice,” or “belief,” or “experience,” if you will, continues with me to this day. For when I find the fog has descended (because let’s be honest, it never really leaves), I find my hands are already reaching out, searching through the mist and grasping for those invisible ropes. And, as it always has, across all these years now, the yogic Transmission is still there waiting to continue guiding my way.
Article by TREVOR WELTMAN
Illustrations by JASMEE RATHOD
September 30, 2020
September 29, 2020
September 29, 2020