Thursday, December 29, 2005

Zen Meditating, or yet another exercise on Living in the Moment

Tonight I went to Zen Meditation. It was me and four men, none of them of the *eligible variety* I might add. I was just discussing with Joan (my person who helps me try to be sane) tonight, the lack of eligible men in my life. Primarily working with women does not bode well for meeting men and possibly having a date. You would think that with all the stuff I’ve been doing, one would wander my way in the real world, as opposed to the Internet world, but nooo. That would be way too easy.

Despite the lack of eligible men at Zen tonight, it was still pretty cool. I don’t think that my daughter would have enjoyed it, nor my mother. It was just a little too *eastern* for their tastes. Things of this nature appeal to me these days as I seem to be just slightly off center. Which is fine with me…life is so much more interesting when you view it from a different angle. Now that I’ve made it through Christmas and almost to the New Year, I can get back to my normal-abnormal self. ….the self that I still don’t recognize, but who is becoming more and more familiar to me as time passes.

You have to be able to sit still in order to Zen Meditate. After 20 minutes, fidgeting is something that I longed to do. It’s mind over matter though. There’s bowing in the beginning and then the difficult choice of sitting on pillows on the floor, or in a chair with your feet flat on the floor, back straight, hands folded in the *Zen manner*, as if holding the world on your lap. Then there is the recitation of a prayer of sorts, done in chant style, which is just something that I am not good at. I just do not get the whole chanting thing. Possibly if I do this enough times though, the chanting will begin to make sense. After the chanting is over, you must concentrate on looking at the spot you’ve picked out in front of you, feel yourself breath in….and then out…counting 1….then 2…..then 1….then 2…with the idea of not having a thought in your head. Do you have any idea how difficult this is to do?? Each time your mind wanders, and mine wandered a lot, you are supposed to bring yourself back by concentrating on your breathing, and counting, until you are not thinking about anything again. I am NEVER not thinking about anything. Which is probably one of my problems and possibly why Zen Meditation might actually benefit me. It’s all about being in the moment. A theme that shows up throughout this blog from time to time…. if you’ve been paying attention.

I made it through the first 25 minutes of sitting and breathing and trying not to think, and trying not to fidget, and trying not to scratch the itch on my finger, and trying to relax the muscles in my back, and then in my jaw (of all places). I managed it fairly well…managed to continually stop myself from thinking and figured out how to relax my muscles. After 25 minutes, two wooden blocks were slapped together to indicated that we should get up and proceed to follow the Zen leader (I’m sure there’s some special name for him). We walked very slowly out of the room, through the door and out into the main area of the house that doubles as a church. Very slowly, almost like bridesmaids walking down a church isle, we made two circuits of the front foyer and two other attached rooms…this is where my concentration waned….I can never resist reading the titles on books sitting on bookshelves. As we very slowly walked by a floor to ceiling book shelf, I peeked at the titles, glanced at the pictures of sunsets hanging on the walls, saw the baskets with little signs asking for coffee donation money, admired the evergreen and candle centerpiece on the sideboard, the wreath on the door to the restroom and the handmade ornaments on the Christmas tree in the front foyer. I also could not resist looking at the information stuck on bulletin boards, pictures of Martin Luther King Jr., articles about The Women In Black and how their silence speaks louder than words (my article I think), and right smack in the middle of one of those boards, the very large article on the Victorian Tea that I wrote as well. It was a little cool to see my writing on display, but not as cool as having one of the Zen men tell me that he loved the way I wrote.

After the two very slow circuits of the outer rooms, it was back into the main room, for more sitting. By this time I was already writing this piece in my head and had difficulty staying in the moment. I glanced around to see what the other guys were doing, already feeling as if we were buddies. They were much better at the sitting than I was, all of them in the Lotus position, and so very still, except for their breathing. All I could think about was that by then, I would have had pins and needles in my feet, were I sitting in that position. I did however, manage to get myself back into the breathing and clear my mind, even if only for the last minute or two.

All in all, it was an interesting evening and I think I’ll go back. Anything that helps me to focus on being in the moment, even if it is only sporadically, is a good thing to do….and I just love the Unitarian Universalists….but that will be the subject of another blog post. This one is already way to long……..

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