I attended a meditation known as a Sangha to the Buddhist community. This group was called the Blue Water Community of Mindful Living. My husband is a Buddhist and enjoys attending these meditations. I have been to a couple of them and was eager to participate in another.
Today, I met up with old friends and saw familiar faces. When we arrived, we set up the Zafu and chairs in an open rectangle facing a small altar of incense, a candle, and a statue of Buddha. Once we quieted our cell phones, took off our shoes, placed our donations to the local food pantry or building fee in their designated baskets, and chose our spots. I sat cross-legged on a Zafu. Chatter reached its height when the remaining twelve took their places. The room became quiet when Sam rang the singing bowl to settle us into our sitting meditation.
My mind was racing with the success of our yard sale, thoughts my friends expressed, and ideas for my book. It was a struggle, but I finally managed to focus. After thirty minutes, the bowl rang again; to bring us out of our sitting meditation and prepare us for a walking meditation.
I enjoyed the walking meditation, especially after sitting on my legs for so long. This type of meditation also requires focus and concentration. I had to maintain an exact distance from the person in front of me while keeping a slow and steady pace. We walked circles around the second floor of Studio 1219, while those who wanted a slower walk walked circles around the inside of the rectangle.
When finished, the leader led us back to our spots for another sitting meditation that would also end with the ring of the singing bowl. We read, in turn, the 14 mindfulness trainings. Afterward, Sam opened the floor to the Sangha for a Dharma discussion. Which, I understood, is discussing what’s on your mind with your community. We allow each person to speak in turn with a bow.
Sam has aspired to become ordained for this group and shared with us a letter he wrote to Thich Nhat Hanh about his journey. It was an awe-inspiring letter and one in which I hope this leader will be able to achieve his ordination.
One woman shared with us her struggle with the third mindfulness training: keeping an open mind and not giving in to fanaticism. I related to her story and shared my own struggles. I also shared how I learned to be honest and that a “friend” would respect that honesty. Sam suggested living by example so others will learn to be open-minded by observing our compassion.
Compassion. Yes, that is the goal I am trying to accomplish!
This morning’s meditation gave me a sense of community, love, and calm. It brought me closer to finding inner peace and made me more aware of compassion. Afterward, my husband and I went home, and I napped for two hours. An amazingly peaceful nap with my cat curled up in my lap.