Sunday, March 15, 2020

Anxiety and fear during the Coronavirus or a Hockey player trying to be a Buddhist!

As someone who has delved into meditation, and someone who has equally "fallen off the pillow". I find myself in this time returning to meditation. Often, I joke that I am a hockey player trying to be a Buddhist, am by no means any kind of expert.

I have a "beginner's mind"after several years of meditating and my mind jumps from thought to thought as I focus on the breath. The present news is at times overwhelming and changing on an hourly basis. These are truly uncharted waters for our planet. My mind wants to go to that to the anxiety and fear and I feel it attempting to drive my emotions. The amazing aspect about meditation or contemplative prayer is at times you can step back and witness the thoughts and separate from the thoughts and their attempts to drive emotion. The next aspect as this observation is going on is an amazing quietness inside that may last for two-three breath cycles. At times it expands and then contracts and then the thoughts resume.

A question might be is sitting for 30 minutes worth a sense of quietness for a few seconds? I can resoundingly Yes! Sometimes if I am really lucky it is 8-10 breaths for a few times during the sit. The sense of quietness feels like a reboot and the volume on the anxiety drops. At a meditation retreat last weekend the presenter asked us to share, how mediation helps us. As the title implies, the hockey player aspect of my mind, wants to grind and get in the corner an muck it up. Meditation at least that Saturday, provided a witness to the reaction of my mind, and I humbly can say I felt that I was sitting in my own sitcom! The witness aspect allowed a sense of humor regarding reactions that occur! felt like I was in my own Seinfeld episode.

A friend introduced me to a Zen meditator Paul Reps who wrote the book Zen Flesh Zen Bones. Paul Reps was simply known as Reps and he spent summers at the meditation center where I lived. Reps has two favorite sayings that I like "Slow Motion Cures Commotion" and "You Are Your Own Fortune Cookie" Lately I have been thinking of Reps in this challenging time and am trying to slow down and witness the thoughts of my mind, to create a bit of separation. Hopefully by returning to sitting, this is creating the foundation for sense of quiet, even if it is transitory in nature. If nothing else try sitting in a chair for 10 minutes and simply observe your breath. watch the inhale and the exhale, if the mind jumps around return to the breath. In the beginning its not all rose petals falling from the sky, but with a little practice, you will derive great benefit! If you are interested in Zen this is the link to Zen Flesh Zen Bones.

Another great book, I found to be insightful and funny as well as scientific is "Why Buddhism is True" by Robert Wright

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