An overweight man with greasy hair introduces himself as Anthony, proceeds to explain some of the aims of Sahaja Yoga, points out our various chakras on a whiteboard marker drawn diagram. Anthony has a kind of Jim Jones thing going on and he fidgets, which is totally uncool. I'm seriously thinking of about bolting, but 2 things stop me - 1) There are various 'legitimate' Indian people here to help us with our meditating and 2) I'm much too far away from the exit, I can't bear the thought of all these people with ugly feet seeing me give up 10 minutes in.
He starts the meditation. It involves moving our right hand to various places on our left side and repeating different affirmations in our head with each spot. It lasts about 10 minutes and by the end of it I'm feeling reassured, relaxed, calm. Then he asks us to move our hand to hover over the top of our head to feel the cool air emanating....I'm not feeling it. My Kundalini has not been awakened. He asks for a show of hands and 3 bullshit artists raise them, the rest of us concentrate on our ugly feet.
Doesn't matter, it will happen, he says.
Then he puts on a dvd of the lady with the long name who was the founder of this form of meditation. She has a wonderful Indian accent and she is on a screen that's roughly 7 inches across. It's both difficult to see and to understand. Then a miniature cockroach runs across the top of the screen, then again, then back once more. It's odd.
Eventually they fade the lady's voice out and he asks for any questions. There are the usual suspects 'I couldn't understand her accent - it was a language barrier for me' says one particularly aussie lady. 'I don't know what I'm supposed to be achieving' says a man with a sceptical eye. Another man stands up, bows at the lady waiting by the door and leaves.
I'm tempted, very tempted to run with him but there are biscuits on a table for after and that's enough to keep me here.
Finally Anthony introduces a young, fit Indian guy to talk. He pretty much tells us all the same stuff the fat white Anthony did but in a more legitimate manner. He takes us through one more meditation, again about 10 minutes, similar to the first and again I feel calm, capable. I only do one set of pelvic floor exercises before I remember I'm supposed to not be thinking.
All this lasts for about an hour. They have barely said thank you and goodnight before people are leaving - many turning their mobile phones back on as soon as they stand up. What the fuck is that? Who goes to a meditation course and takes their phone with them?
Some of us hang around, sniffing for the free biscuits and orange juice. Various discussions about the lighting being a bit bright and why on earth did people bring their phones with them? Mingling with the 'staff' who are actually just volunteers who practise this meditation every week together in this very room. They don't worry about the lighting - they don't notice it anymore. Words like 'bliss' and 'thoughtless awareness' are thrown around. Exactly what I'm looking for, I think.
So I reckon there will only be half the amount of ugly feet next week, but I'm going back. It's a 5 week course, one night a week, but I'm going to be away for the last 2 weeks so that works perfectly - I can commit to this but not with too much gusto. I'm fairly sure it can't get much worse than this week and if it is, then that will be a great surprise. Look out Kundalini here I come...