I decided to participate in a Zen Buddhism meditation. Unfortunately for me, the group meditation is offered only once a week, on Saturday at 7:30am. When I arrived, I was surprised by the plain looking exterior. I’m not sure what I expected really, but with all the ornate statues associated with Buddhism, I guess I wasn’t expecting the house like structure that I saw.
I arrived a little early, and I’m glad that I did. I needed to find the appropriate room and a cushion for the meditation session. Thank goodness there were some people who are staying at the center present to help me along. The walls of our room were rather plain and serene in appearance, however the accent colors of the cushions and pillows were richly hued. My cushion was a deep burgandy with gold, while some others I noticed, had plush navy blue ones.
Our shoes were removed before entering the room, and I followed suit in bowing before a golden sitting Buddha at the front of the room. After paying my respects, I found my way to my cushion and waited for the teacher to arrive. At exactly 7:30am, myself and the ten others in the room, assumed the lotus position (think back to “indian style” from kindergarten… lotus is pretty similar) and began silent meditation. We sat in meditation for roughly 25-30 minutes, then stood, and began walking meditation. This cycle of sitting (called “zazen”) and walking (called “kinhin”) happened three times, ending with the group sitting, then repeating a sutra.
When the sutra was completed, everyone thanked the teacher by saying “namaste” (pronounced like nah-muss-day), which roughly translates into “I bow to you”. It is a sign of respect and reverence. The cushions were all returned and many Buddhists bowed to, or touched the feet of the Buddha statue once more before leaving the room.
There was some socializing after the session, and coffee and hot tea was provided. I didn’t stay very long, seeing as I had to go to work (and the session had lasted until 9:30am), but I was able to chat with a few people who were staying at the center, in a commune like lifestyle. They all had the same similar story; they were seeking a change