Experiencing Enlightenment: How a $5 donation opened a whole new world
Up to this point I had been “trying” to meditate. Most days it was just not happening, other days were a bit better. I’m a newbie, and with most new things I try, I teach myself.
After a bit, I decided I needed some guidance and ended up going to my neighborhood meditation center. I wasn’t sure what to expect, these places can be a bit woo woo.
I went in on a Sunday, in my usual weekend wear of jeans and sneakers. I walked in, thankfully, no one was wearing any unusual outfits and there were no strange odors.
Because this was my first visit I got a 10–15 minute private lesson with the chief meditator. He explained that they practice mindfulness meditation, as opposed to transcendental meditation, or mantra meditation.
He asked my why I wanted to meditate. Good question. I meditate mainly so I can keep my sh*t together. Not be emotionally reactive and roll with the punches better.
He explained the sitting position, either cushion or chair, (I’m a chair person). He then explained that in mindfulness mediation the main thing is to be present and in the moment. If during your meditation you find yourself going through your to do list, or speculating on current events, recognize what you are doing and focus on your breath.
We went through proper posture and to be aware of it. As you are meditating as your head may lean forward or back which may cause discomfort in your neck. Oh, it’s eyes open so you don’t fall asleep. We also discussed walking meditation which I had never done. (i’ll get to that).
After the tutorial, I went into the main meditation room where there were 10 others meditating. Some were sitting, others on cushions. I took my chair in the back. After some time, the leader hit the gong and it was time for walking meditation (if you wanted to).
In walking meditation your hands in front of you (back of one hand in the palm of the other) and you walk around in a circle. Instead of focusing on your breath you focus on feeling the floor. Did I mention that you have to take off your shoes before you go in. We did that for a bit of time, the leader hit the gong and it was back to seated meditation.
I think I was there for about 45 minutes (which is a record for me) As I was leaving there was a plate with a suggested donation of $5.00. I made the donation, got my shoes and left.
What I learned: Meditating with others worked for me. I was able to push myself to stay in the mediation longer. When i’m at home i’m more restless and will end sooner than I should. Walking meditation, which looks ridiculous, was enjoyable. I found it easier to focus on my steps, than my breath.
I’m actually thinking about doing a one day meditation retreat. Who’d have thought.