Marches and Meditation

Each of us has our own reality, our own way to be.

Just tonight, my friend and I drove to the East Bay Meditation Center in Oakland, CA, for the 4th and final meditation class.

downloadPurposefully, we didn’t read nor listen to the news this evening, agreeing to learn the verdict and follow the story on our drive back home. For a few hours before class, we delighted in shopping in local stores and walking the streets in one of those neighborhoods chalk full of independent stores. In one shop we considered purchasing a meditation pillow, touched most every soft item of clothing in another shop, found the perfect reflective bands to wear on our morning jogs, and gave in to our senses over the most other-worldly bowls of ramen ever imagined. Everything seemed so normal on the street, in the shops, along the sidewalks.

Driving to the meditation center, it became evident that entirety of the city was actually preparing itself for a long night. Oakland knows how to prepare for these nights. Everyone knows their role in this public theater. Police vehicles, police on bikes, roads blocked off, helicopters. Areas for people to gather were being tightly controlled. We parked and walked directly to class. Half of out classmates remained in their own homes to assure their physical safety. Sounds of sirens, helicopters, and nervousness made for challenging meditations. No complaints. Just need to recognize that the needs of many are met in many different ways. As our two hours concluded, minds calmed, we were reminded of steps to take to make the change for a meditation practice in our own lives, suggested next steps on our road of discovery. It was in this quiet spirit as we put away our chairs and cushions that staff at the center informed us that a peaceful protest had moved to the freeway and helped us plan our route home via surface streets. Care for our well being was being tended while we learned, practiced. Turns out that during our meditation, the neighborhood had been surrounded by protest over the Ferguson grand jury decision and had moved from the streets to the highway. Peaceful protest on the highway. Peaceful and making voices heard. On the highway.

Marches and meditation, each of us doing everything in our power to make this world a better place.


Note: this post was updated the morning after publishing to include deeper insights gleamed upon reflection.



It Takes Practice

download“You must practice meditation if it is to become a practice in your life,” our teacher explains. Tonight was the 3rd week of a series of four meditation classes at the East Bay Meditation Center. What do we do during these two hour classes? We practice meditating, of course.

Each class has an opening five minute meditation, followed by three 15-20 minute sits / meditation periods. Between, there is discussion and many “Am I doing this correctly?” types of questions.  In general, my skills at clearing my mind are improving, and the relaxed state is easier to achieve.  Even when a sudden thought takes over my thinking.  Tonight, when the room got to be a bit chilly, the obvious thought to commander my mind was how blissful a steamy mug of hot chocolate would be at that moment.  Ahhhhh, the silly things our minds come up with! Looks like more practice is in order.

The Wisdom of Thich Nhat Hahn

Deep wisdom that touches our very soul always seems to come from a sage who lived long ago and far away. For years I thought that the words I heard from Thich Nhat Hahn fit that category. Wrong. This deeply spiritual man, teacher, peace activist, Buddhist monk lives with us now. Two days ago he suffered a brain hemorrhage. It seems only true and right to meditate on his words as he heals, as these words have helped and pushed my own healing.

“People have a hard time letting go of their suffering. Out of a fear of the unknown, they prefer suffering that is familiar.”

“Letting go gives us freedom, and freedom is the only condition for happiness. If, in our heart, we still cling to anything – anger, anxiety, or possessions – we cannot be free.”

“My actions are my only true belongings.”