That Was Zen and Zen is Now

Being a fan of musical theatre and movies helps to understand not only my writing but my wiring. In this particular essay, it would help if you have ever watched or related to the movie, "The Sound of Music".

Of late, I am having my own series of Maria moments.

For my new year, I have chosen to expand my spiritual practice by studying Zen Buddhist meditation. For my linear side, I am reading books for greater learning; and for the real work, I am attending scheduled Zen meditations.

For a seasoned minister with a regular spiritual practice this might not seem like such a big deal.
"How do you solve a problem like Maria?"
Remember when Maria first joins the convent and is trying to adapt and adopt the new rules of her spiritual surroundings? That is reminiscent of me starting to attend the privileged environment of formal meditation sessions.

This type of meditation practice is different from the one I have evolved. And in my few sessions, I have already felt like ..."a flibberty-gibbet, a will o' the wisp, a clown" as I have attempted to respect the process and stillness.

I am not used to sitting on those round cushions or the little benches. My legs fall asleep, my feet get cold, my posture is uncomfortable and I so want to wiggle and adjust and...and ...and... OH NO! please don't tell me that was my cell phone that just rang inside my purse? (Yes, it was.)

Sitting still and quiet is a regular and comfortable practice for me. But at home, it usually includes sitting in my prayer-chair and with my prayer partner, Beauregard on my lap. My regular practice is to read the various Science of Mind magazines daily articles in preparation for my stillness and prayer work. I will sit in the quiet anywhere from 15 minutes to over an hour (depending on the day and my schedule). However, any or all of it, is at my discretion and creation. Not so at the Zen Center.

There is a structure to the 'privileged environment' as to how you enter the room, how you take you place and how you sit/meditation facing a bare wall, it is 30 minutes in length and there is a closing and exiting ritual. All very doable. In fact, I particularly like that there is a bell used to signify the start and the stop of the meditation--I like bells, chimes and gongs.

It was amusing to me that it took me until my fourth or fifth time when I wondered if I was supposed to have an eyes open or eyes closed meditation. I am used to the eyes closed version, so naturally, that I was did. Yet, a little voice told me that perhaps we wouldn't be facing the blank wall if we weren't supposed to be looking at it while we meditated.

Sure enough, today as I was reading another one of Cheri Huber's wonderful books, she had a series of FAQ's and indeed, we are to be looking at, facing a blank wall as a part of the practice. In so doing, you are less likely to fall asleep and it really becomes a method by which to notice more from within. DOH.

This morning's meditation, I got settled and kept my eyes open. It was easier than I thought it would be. I appreciated watching how my mind danced with questions and distractions within my stillness--all of which I know to be a part of the process.

But how silly is it to be spending thought time on the hopes that someone else in the room would do something human in sound or action so that I would not feel so self-conscious worrying about what I would do if I had to cough or sneeze or itch -- even though none of those things actually came up for me. But what if . . . ? Did anyone notice that my pants leg got caught under the little bench and I was fumbling to turn around? Or how about the fact that my tummy gurgled and I swallowed loudly?

"Many a thing you know you'd like to tell her
Many a thing she ought to understand
But how do you make her stay
And listen to all you say
How do you keep a wave upon the sand

Oh, how do you solve a problem like Maria?
How do you hold a moonbeam in your hand?"
Rodgers & Hammerstein

Sounds very zen to me... and you can hum along.


I enjoy reading your blog now and Zen.

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