One of my New Year Resolutions (yip, that time is fast approaching us once again,) is to dedicate myself to weekly yoga and meditation - and this really shouldn't be as hard as it has been considering that there is conveniently a yoga / meditation studio INSIDE the building I work in.
All in all though, I managed to keep my count flowing smoothly.
'You shouldn't think of meditation as something you gain something from... but rather something you loose something from,' he told me.
'What!?' I asked, utterly confused.
'Buddha was asked, 'what have you gained from meditation?' and he replied, 'nothing!' However, Buddha said, 'Let me tell you what I have lost: Anger, Anxiety, Depression, Insecurity, Fear of Old Age and Death.'
That's when I understood.
At least I'm trying.... kind of.
After demolishing about two bottles of wine we decided it would be a fabulous idea to go down to the beach (in the pouring rain!) and sit on the rocks to watch the waves which were about eight foot! I'd never seen waves that big up close before. It was AMAZING.
We returned to the house drenched and refreshed, laughing and ready to open the next bottle of red.
Sam's been teaching me how to live off the land. It is absolutely fascinating to learn about what is available to us if we just look. We're actually planning on writing a book together about mushroom picking and identification in South Africa. A little project we'll begin in the new year.
Today I had been invited to attend the group meditation session with Kevin and his other students.
I met with Kevin for about a half hour before the rest of the class arrived so that we could catch up and see how things had been going. After a brief chat, I helped him set up the class by placing blankets and pillows around the room. He told me that the set-up of meditation is very important and must be done in a certain way... he kept on refolding the blankets I put down because I wasn't doing it correctly. It made him and his son laugh. It made me blush.
One by one, people dressed in loose-fitting, colorful cotton clothing piled in and introduced themselves. An old woman that must have been in her mid 70's who sounded like she was from somewhere in Europe, a man not far behind her age-wise dressed in hippie attire to perfection, a girl that looked like she must be in her early thirties with a tight bob of blonde hair, my old wiry-haired English teacher from college wearing a black t-shirt with a big purple 'Om' symbol on the front, Kevin's wife, Kevin's son and another curly haired woman who looked as though she'd come in her pajama's.
A candle was lit in the middle of the room and a small discussion took place after we all took our seat on our pillows above the blankets.
The candle had been lit as one of the other students from the group couldn't make it because her family members were in critical condition in hospital. It was a lovely touch and very thoughtful.
Kevin then banged a wooden stick he calls a Keisaku, which began our meditation. I got a heads up that we'd be doing this seated meditation for 25 minutes. Now that there were plenty people around me, I couldn't help but be distracted. I wanted to look around and see how they were all doing it. Some were staring at nothing, as I was instructed to do. Others had their eyes closed. I tried this but it made me feel so sleepy that I decided to keep my eyes focused on the flame dancing around the wick of the candle in the center of the room.
By 20 minutes in, I was twisting and squirming my feet around as quietly as possible, trying to bring some life back into them. I didn't know how everyone else couldn't be laughing at me.
I also kept on glancing up at the old woman in her 70's, wondering if she was still awake. This meditation made me sleepy as hell - but she looked so blissed out in her own world.
The Keisaku was beaten against Kevin's hand and we were told the stretch our legs before standing in a line. Lacing your fingers through each other we were told to walk and meditate, going around the room about a pace behind the person in front of you.
This I did NOT understand. I didn't get the point of it and I felt like a dufus.
We did this for ten minutes and then I nearly collided with the woman in her pj's when we suddenly stopped at our blanket and pillow.
We all sat back down and started another 25 minutes of seated meditation. By now, after that strange walking exercise I was starting to have my doubts.
I could do this at home - yes I liked the surroundings and it was nice to see other people taking it seriously but I just didn't understand the walking thing. It bugged me a lot.
The sitting meditation I could get used to. It made me relax and come to a tranquil state of mind that I enjoyed.
The next 25 minutes of seated meditation was actually a lot easier. My feet weren't cramping up and getting pins and needles as quickly and I was already so relaxed and in the vibe.
When the Keisaku was finally beaten again we stretched out our legs and were giving chanting books.
We did two chants, one being the English Heart Sutra Mantra which made me want to die of laughter. This is what it was:
We just repeated the words so slowly and strangely... it was a combination of the ultimate weirdness as well as beautiful. I could definitely get into it if I let myself. But as a beginner, you are skeptical and feel weird. I'd say, just go with it and embrace it.
We did a second chant after the English Heart Sutra which was all in Sanskirt or something I think. It was much more beautiful and flowy but I had no idea what I was singing about which bugged me.
I liked the chanting all in all once I'd gotten semi-used to it but I'd definitely want to know what I was chanting about and getting myself into before just singing random Sanskirt mantra's out loud.
We finished with a group discussion about meditation. Soldiers are starting to use meditation in the wars and we had a discussion about what we thought about it. Meditation is also being used in prisons and has proven to be beneficial to bringing the inmates to a more calm state of mind. They think before they act - making their 'violence is survival,' rule slowly deteriorate.
It was interesting and all - but I was really excited to get back home, have a dinner with Sam and my folks and enjoy a bottle of Shiraz.
As for yoga... well..
After doing just that, I'd have to say that Anusara Yoga really stands out as well as Bikram and Hot Yoga. I like the idea of doing yoga in a heated room to help me sweat and detoxify.
I'm doing a big post differentiating between the different forms of meditation and yoga as well as sharing some of the things I've learnt about travel in India so keep a look out for that - it will be on my blog later this week.
With love in Dharma