Monday, March 22, 2010
At a friend's urging, I attended a public meditation session held at a Shambala Center. Shambala Centers are located worldwide and they offer public meditation sessions, meditation instruction, and classes in buddhism.
After shedding my boots and leaving them in the vestibule, friend and I waited in "the waiting room" for another meditation session to end. The waiting room was pleasant and well-appointed with a comfy couch and chairs, literature and magazines related to Buddhism, a selection of herbal teas, and some fresh fruit. The session before ours ended. I was temporarily startled by the presence of my shrink, who bowed to me and left with the others.
We entered the meditation room. There was an option of chair or cushion. I chose cushion and sat, arranging my jacket next to me. There was a small altar up front which I liked. The group leader for that session began with a small explanation that teachers were available if anyone wished, and an overview of the next 90 minutes. First the sitting meditation, then a walking, then a sitting. Then a sharing period where folks could say what they wished-- as long as it wasn't in direct response to what another had shared. And a five minute sitting meditation to finish.
During my sitting meditation, I was taken back to the Grand Canyon and the flight of small birds among the cliffs and sparse vegetation. I practiced gently stopping these thoughts and letting them go. It wasn't forced and I was much relaxed. The walking meditation was a tad more difficult. I was concentrating on the idea of not falling-- as walking without shoes remains a difficult thing for me. It was with relief that I sat back down again at the leader's direction. I will not share the discussion here, nor who the other attendees were. I will say that the sharing was deep as the strictures of others' potential responding to what anyone said were observed. After the five minute ending meditation, we adjourned to the waiting room for herbal tea and fruit.
Two folks discovered that their wallet and daypack were missing from the vestibule. That made me at once glad that I had elected to bring my jacket inside the meditation room with me. When a third person discovered that her bicycle was also missing, it was realized that this wasn't a case of "the janitor moving these things to the lost-and-found box." I felt badly that a thief had entered the vestibule during the meditation session itself and taken these things.
The meditation experience itself was charming, however the theft gave me pause. I am hesitant to return to that particular center. I watch lots of crime shows on teevee. My imagination flashed pictures of us tied up in the meditation room and being ordered to hand over our money and jewelry, being held up with a loaded gun in my face, stolen cars from the parking lot. I am considering starting a womens' meditation group around here.
And one more thing: I am fairly certain that I cannot be a Buddhist. There is nothing about me that is passive in nature. I am too programmed to fight back and I understand the necessity of war in our current world. Until I lose the feeling of wanting to butcher those who planned 9/11, I will remain as I am-- a happy atheist with discordian and pastafarian leanings.
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Shambhala website: http://www.shambhala.org/