On my quest to expand my heart, I listen to what my soul says even if it doesn't make sense to me in the moment.
Checking out this cool Meetup website I got to sign up with groups of individuals in my area who share similar interests. I signed up for yoga in nature and zen meditation and a vegan group. Always nice to meet new people and try new things.
The first meet up for the Zen Meditation group was yesterday. It conflicted with my weekly Saturday morning yoga class and it was 30 miles away (instead of 3 miles for yoga). I seriously questioned the necessity of going. When I kinesthetically tested my body, it kept on saying no to yoga and YES to meditation. My intuition was speaking and I was having issues with what I was hearing. Until I quieted my mind and saw the opportunity to stretch and grow. And step outside my comfort zone. While I meditate daily, I wasn't sure if I could handle two 30 minute sessions of sitting meditation in a group setting.
I checked out the South Florida Zen Buddhism website and found out that their meditation practices are held at Bo Hyun Sa, a Korean Buddhist temple. Bright and early Saturday morning, I headed west. They offered a beginner's session a half hour before the meditations began. I walked into what seemed like a very large house and was asked to remove my shoes and led to the sanctuary. All along the ceiling were paper lanterns with blessings for Buddha's birthday and ontop of the altar, three big golden Buddhas. There were cushions and zabutons placed around the room and facing the center. I sat down and proceeded to get my beginner's lesson with a nice young man called William.
He told me that the sitting meditations were done with open eyes lowered to the ground repeating the mantra of "Clear Mind" while breathing in and letting the belly expand and "Don't Know" while exhaling and letting the belly contract. Our hands folded in Cosmic Mudra - right palm up holding the left hand so that the knuckles overlap and the thumbs touching so that the hands form an oval. He explained that if I needed to move or adjust or fidget, I was to bow slightly and then get up and stand behind my pillow with my arms in prayer position until I was ready to sit back down again. And that concluded Meditation 101. Thank you WSM William for your wonderful explanation and doing a great job!!
And just before 9:00 a.m. other people entered the sanctuary and found their pillows and settled themselves. Dharma Carlos from Argentina led our session with a rapping of a stick on a wooden instrument. And the 1/2 hour began.
It felt relatively easy for me. Time seemed to pass quite well. When my mind became active (wondering when this was going to end and how much time had elapsed and feeling my leg throbbing from half lotus position), I observed my mind and let the thoughts go and focused on my breathing. And to my surprise, the rapping interrupted the silence. We got up and filed one behind another and started taking small mindful steps staying close to the person in front of us and walking meditation had begun. Ten minutes flew. And then we were sitting again. The second session felt relatively easier then the first - my eyes wanting to close instead of staying open and this too I observed and let go. The rapping pierced the silence and we were done. Just like that.
We chanted a heart sutra and a Korean song translated from Sanskrit. And then we got up and stretched and it was over. I stayed to watch WSM Jim perform a most meditative tea ceremony and I stayed to chat and enjoy a cup of tea.
I drove home feeling very calm and peaceful and grateful. For the opportunity to gather with others and meditate and bring world peace through our stillness. I also felt empowered and gave myself a Go Goddess Go!!! for my homegrown meditation practice which allowed me to survive and thrive in this public setting. This experience served as a benchmark of how far I've come. Tee hee!!!
Go Goddess Go!!!