I did it! Sticking to my list of new things to try in 2013, I hopped in my car and ventured across town to my very 1st Zen meditation session. The scent of incense greeted my senses as soon as I opened the door. I looked around the room and suddenly I was surrounded by a whole new population I had never experienced before. There they were, lots of them, probably in their mid twenties. There were conversations about where to eat and there was hugging, lots of hugging! People looked at me. I mean really looked at me. They were making eye contact as they welcomed me with a smile and shook my hand. I looked around and to my surprise there were no cell phones, no laptops, just people hanging around smiling and talking. I didn’t understand at first. It was almost like I had entered a foreign country where I couldn’t utter an intelligible word. Suddenly, I was self conscious. I tried to look cool and forced a smile on my face. That crew disappeared into the night and in walked the meditation regulars. They were doing that same thing as that earlier group. They were looking at me, asking my name, and shaking my hand. Next thing I knew I was bowing 3 times and finding my correct posture on the edge of my pillow. A man with a stick hit his hand 3 times to signify the start of class. That’s when it happened. I bet you’re waiting for me to tell you I saw hallucinations and found enlightenment. Nope, that wasn’t it at all. For 25 minutes I sat in total silence and didn’t move. My mind was racing, and judging. Judging those poor people who were nice enough to say hello, judging the leader and his silly socks, thinking about my next blog topic. I even peeked out of one eye to see what the heck everyone was doing. Guess what? They were doing nothing but sitting there quietly and breathing. My mind just would not let up. It is amazing that I can spend hours on Facebook and Pinterest, yet 25 minutes of quiet sitting seemed like an eternity. My back started to get stiff and my toes were numb. Was is ever going to end? Then, after what seemed like an eternity, the sound of the stick took on new meaning. Everyone was standing up and walking slowly around the room for what’s known as walking meditation. 3 trips around the room and then back on our pillows. Here we go, round 2! This time, my thoughts started to fade away. I felt a weird swaying feeling as the sound of silence took over my overactive mind. It was peaceful and accepting. We were all one. The next time that stick made noise it was followed up with a series of chants.
The experience was interesting for sure. Will I meditate every day? Who knows. What I do know though is that mind chatter really does get in the way of life. It’s the noise that keeps you from really hearing what someone is trying to say to you. Mind chatter judges and questions and keeps us from hearing that quiet calm and our inner voice. Mind chatter robs us of the present while reminding us of the past and putting the fear of God in us about the future. It’s all about being in the moment, instead of being a prisoner in our own heads. Meditation is calm, and peaceful, and accepting. Meditation probably isn’t for everyone, but the quiet was like a new found therapy for me. The world is noisy, people are noisy. My mind is noisy. So, meditation will be my quiet vacation from the noise of life. It will be a time to rest my mind and just be. I am grateful for the experience and hope I can drag a friend or two to try it with me next time. Tomorrow night I will try a guided meditation and I will let you all know that compares.