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Friday, January 29, 2010

Serenity Meander - some thoughts on meditation

SERENITY - the state or quality of being serene, calm, or tranquil; composure, peacefulness, peace. [Serenity week begins here. Click for this week's Bliss Initiatives.]

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I have shared previously in this blog that I once participated in a 10 day silent Vipassana Meditation retreat. The experience was fascinating. I started the week feeling like a crazy person. The voices in my head were so loud and I had to constantly bite my tongue. I'm so hard wired for talking. It was especially difficult to forego the pleasantries, please, thank you and excuse mes were not allowed. Other people were there with you but you were instructed to completely ignore each other.

By the end of the week my mind had quieted to the point where I had small experience of a totally quiet mind and when it was time to talk again normal chatter wasn't possible. For the next couple of weeks I found it difficult to resume, at the time, my usual social schedule of gathering at the local pub and commiserating on anything and everything with my friend Tamara. In the days immediately following my retreat even my own voice seemed loud and assaulting. It was a surreal and oddly calming experience overall.

The thing I haven't mentioned before is how much I loved it. Vipassana offers 30 and 45 day retreats and I aspired to participate. The taste of that silence I had glimpsed was compelling.  The retreats don't cost anything. Really, they are totally free. At the conclusion of the event each participant pays what they can/want to support the center and any contributions are completely anonymous. Even with the very attractive no fee participation costs I could never figure out when to do it again. I didn't want to use 10 or more days of limited vacation time and since I left the full time working world to be a stay at home mom, it is unfathomable to consider that much time away from my family. It remains on my "someday in the future" list.

I shared all this as a prelude to my meander around the internet to look at meditation practices. As a result of my Vipassana experience I have become some what a meditation snob. What I mean by that is I made up that if I can't devote hours a day to the practice then somehow it doesn't count. I've been inspired by Ken Wilber's multi decade habit of a lengthy morning meditation not to mention all the sages who have  practiced over the millenium. Here again however, I have not started where I am. I do not have the time, discipline or even inclination for this type of practice at this point in my life but to reject meditation all together because I don't have the time to "do it right" is keeping me from enjoying the little joys that even a few moments of solitude offer.

If you are like me, and are interested in adding a meditative practice but are not sure how to get started where you are, I've found a couple of terrific resources. 

  • A new favorite site is Grand Master Art Mason's Buddha Nature website. Art Mason is a grand master martial artist and a professional Full Time Martial Arts School owner and operator dedicated to bringing the benefits of martial arts training to his community.  Each Post on his terrific website is a daily meditation in itself. He covers all sorts of topics like serenity and happiness but what really peaked my interest was his post called The Sound of Silence in which he says:

You don’t need to sit for hours on end in meditation. All you need do is spend 15-10 minutes in the morning sitting and learning to become a witness. While sitting or lying quietly simply observe your thought as the run though the mind. Don’t pay any attention to anyone of them. Just let them enter the mind and move on.  You become a voyeur, only watching the thoughts. After some weeks of practice you can begin to apply this all day long. As your mind tries to distract you with irrelevant chatter and problems you can become the witness to these moments. Not giving any opinions or comments. Simply letting them sale by like a ship at sea.  At first these thoughts will escalate, because the mind will fight back for control, but soon it will begin to quiet and your life will start to wind down and become far less stressful.

I practiced this for 10 days those many years ago and it was amazing. I won't be able to do the same again until Jessie is much much older so starting where I am and spending 10-15 minutes, maybe only once a week,  is something I can do. Eventually I may transition to something more formal. You know, REAL meditation. :)

Next Post: Wrapping up serenity week

My 13 bliss virtues: joy, order, creativity, passion, whimsy, serenity, inquiry, community, romance, gratitude, moxie, humility, surprise

1 comment:

  1. following now...phew, i feel so much better now!

    so yes cross conversation is fine with blog is an anything goes kind of place...thanks for taking the time to answer and respond to my question.

    it's such an obscure blog for a non bunny person to have found.

    if you'd like my email for any reason it should be there somewhere too. i'm a glassblower.

    i'll be back regularly too! xop feel free to erase this obviously if this is too much dialogue for your comment section.


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Ben Franklin's 13 Virtues

  • 1. TEMPERANCE - Eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation.
  • 2. SILENCE - Speak not what may benefit others or yourself; avoid trifling conversation.
  • 3. ORDER - Let all your things have their places; let each part of your business have its time.
  • 4. RESOLUTION - Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve.
  • 5. FRUGALITY - Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself; i.e. waste nothing.
  • 6. INDUSTRY - Lose no time; be always employ'd in something useful; cut off all unnecessary actions.
  • 7. SINCERITY - Use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly, and if you speak, speak accordingly.
  • 8. JUSTICE - Wrong none by doing injuries, or omitting the benefits that are your duty.
  • 9. MODERATION - Avoid extreams; forbear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve.
  • 10. CLEANLINESS - Tolerate no uncleanliness in body, cloaths or habitation.
  • 11. TRANQUILITY - Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable.
  • 12. CHASTITY - Rarely use venery but for health or offspring, never to dullness, weakness, or to the injury of your own or another's peace or reputation.
  • 13. HUMILITY - Imitate Jesus and Socrates.


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