The instructor of the Zen meditation class had told Carla not to expect much from the first session of "sitting," as they referred to meditating at the Buddhist Center where the introductory classes were offered.
"It can take months or even years of daily sitting to achieve what we call enlightenment," said Britney, the spritely millenial with dreadlocked hair and a thickish aroma of patchouli oil leading the class.
Years? thought Carla, bemused. They should try harder.
"What exactly is this enlightenment we are trying to achieve?" Carla asked Britney. "How do we know when we've achieved it?"
Britney tilted her head slightly to one side and scrunched up her face, apparently contemplating how to answer. "That's tough to answer," Britney replied. "It's probably the question we get asked the most and the answer is that there is no clear answer. It's different for everyone.
Britney pointed at a placard on the wall behind Carla, who turned to look.
On the placard were these words: IN THE BEGINNER'S MIND THERE ARE MANY POSSIBILITIES. BUT IN THE EXPERT'S THERE ARE FEW.
The words were attributed to a Shunryu Suzuki, a name vaguely familiar to Carla from her reading up on Buddhism before signing up for the intro class, though she could not immediately place it.
In any case, Carla wasn't sure how the quotation was particularly relevant to her question, unless it was Britney's passive way of telling her she was a newb and had best leave the tough questions to the experts.
"Do you need to rent out a sitting mat today?" Britney asked.
"I brought my own," said Carla, holding up the tattered lime green throw pillow she had grabbed before leaving her apartment.
"OK, well it's about time we got started," Britney advised.
Britney led Carla and a handful of other curious novices into a dimly it sitting room that looked a lot like a yoga studio. The participants sat on their sitting cushions and crossed their legs as illustrated by the remarkably limber Britney.
"Don't worry if you can't do the full Lotus position," Britney consoled them as they struggled to hook their feet into the crooks of their knees. "Just cross your legs as best you can and try to keep your spine as straight as possible."
They placed their hands on the tops of their thighs, palms up, with the option to gently touch together the tips of thumb and middle fingers.
Britney told them to focus on their breathing and to visualize their third eye and if their minds wandered, they were to refocus on the breath and the eye.
Carla found her mind wandering to wondering when Britney would shut the @#$% up so they could actually focus on their bloody breathing.
"Breath in through your nose...out through your mouth," Britney cooed lacadaisically. "Deep breaths."
At that moment, Carla achieved complete enlightenment, as much a surprise to her as it was to Britney, whom she informed of this when the class was over.
"Are you going to be signing up for weekly sessions today?" Britney asked when they were back in the center's reception area.
"No need," Carla replied. "Totes just achieved full enlightenment. You do great work."
Britney looked perplexed and started to say something but fully enlightened Carla had already levitated and floated out the door.