“. . . Killing me softly with his song!”
I never thought I’d start off a meditation tale by using the word “killing,” but in this case, I believe it is somewhat appropriate. Killing the “dis – ease” is more like it.
Killing it softly, one breath at a time, that is!
Yes, that’s how it felt when I lay on the meditation floor Saturday as I pulled two mats together while most others practitioners sat crossed-legged like you imagine most meditators do. There were only two chairs, but I gave up one of ’em up to a woman who needed it as much as me, and I figured I might as well meditate one of the ways I’m comfortable doing it in my home.
(I had also gotten approval from the minister of WON Buddhism of Philadelphia, so I knew my posture would not disturb anyone. Lying prone on my back is how I meditated with the Vietnamese monk, Thich Nhat Hahn, in upstate New York a few years ago. It was for what some of his devotees called a “deep meditation.”
Be careful if you try this at a Tibetan Buddhist Center. A Buddhist nun once kicked when she saw me lying on the back with my legs extended toward the altar. [She was as mean as any Catholic nun I ever met in grade school.] Turns out, she wanted me to show respect by never pointing my feet in the direction of the most venerated point of the room. It’s a show of “disrespect” otherwise!)
Closing my eyes, I quickly reduced all anxiety and felt tension easing out of my body. As part of my practice, I do this on a regular basis by focusing on the tight spots. Like the shoulders and the neck. Also the area of the jaw which tends to clench up when I least expect it to.
This time however, I felt parts of my face around the mouth turn into plasticity. That’s the only word I can use to describe the feeling. My skin let go of stress and loosened up enough to kind of fall downward. It kind of “melted.” I know it sounds crazy, but my face became like putty and stretched away from the facial bones, providing me a looseness I can’t remember feeling in such a long time.
I stayed with this sensation and focused next on the area around both eyes and then the nose. Each time, I became more and more aware of a slight unease. It was nothing profound or irritating, unless you were in the state of mind like I had reached in an effort to rid myself all stress. To kill any “dis-ease,” that is.
Too soon, the 15-minute group meditation came to an end. I had to say goodbye to the temple on the “Lotus Flower Island” my Korean friends took me to as part of the centennial celebration of WON Buddhism this week. This tour with some 50 other lovely practitioners has turned into a pilgrimage my soul has called out to follow.
I have also learned you must face death in order to find a rebirth. You must kill some old habits sometimes, before beginning more life-enhancing ones.
Now that is something I can “face up” to!
I’ll call it the “Contoveros Way!”