Posted by: Tina M | 10 August , 2010

Meditation Matters

I had the awesome opportunity to take place in a three part meditation class organized through the East Bay Meditation Center on Social Justice and mindfulness. The classes consisted of sitting meditation, walking meditation, and group discussion on our individual work with social justice and challenges with self-care.

I had done one previous meditation and for some reason I forgot that meditation was trying not to think. Everyone I talk to thinks that’s obvious, but I seemed to forget that thinking isn’t ALWAYS in our best interest. Given our coping mechanisms and mental habits, it’s easy to create lies and fantasies to justify our emotions, worries, and projections. Taking the time to quiet yourself helps add perspective.

So, if this had been all I got out of the class, it still would’ve been well worth the time. However, the content of the classes brought up some awesome questions to focus on in order to strengthen relationships and my own mental health.

The first week began with Wise Speech. We were supposed to pay attention to the ways we speak with others and ask ourselves some questions:

  1. Are you speaking with kindness?
  2. Does this communication create connections?
  3. Is it true?
  4. Is it the right time?

Criteria for healthy communication? I love it when unwritten rules of community are actually written down, it helps make it more accessible!

Week 2 was Wise Effort. This was about where we put our energy and whether that is empowering or disempowering.

The main question was “What are you taking refuge in that is no longer serving you?”

This struck me to the core because it’s so easy to forget that many survival skills become habit and no longer meet our current needs.

The running thread, between all the classes and the larger goal of meditation, was that it’s a process. The indefinite idea of life and growth is often a cause of stress for me. I have a difficult time remembering that this moment is one of many and should be appreciated as if it’s my last, but if it’s not the moment I was hoping for- be at ease that things will change eventually.

The teacher read us this poem:

Ithaca

When you set out for distant Ithaca,
fervently wish your journey may be long, —
full of adventures and with much to learn.
Of the Laestrygones and the Cyclopes,
of the angry god Poseidon, have no fear:
these you shall not encounter, if your thought
remains at all times lofty, — if select
emotion touches you in body and spirit.
Not the Laestrygones, not the Cyclopes,
nor yet the fierce Poseidon, shall you meet,
unless you carry them within your soul, —
unless your soul should raise them to confront you.

Fervently wish your journey may be long.
May they be numerous — the summer mornings
when, pleased and joyous, you will be anchoring
in harbours you have never seen before.
Stay at the populous Phoenician marts,
and make provision of good merchandise;
coral and mother of pearl; and ebony
and amber; and voluptuous perfumes
of every kind, in lavish quantity.
Sojourn in many a city of the Nile,
and from the learned learn and learn amain.

At every stage bear Ithaca in mind.
The arrival there is your appointed lot.
But hurry not the voyage in the least:
’twere better if you travelled many years
and reached your island home in your old age,
being rich in riches gathered on the way,
and not expecting more from Ithaca.

Ithaca gave you the delightful voyage:
without her you would never have set out:
and she has nothing else to give you now.

And though you should find her wanting, Ithaca
will not surprise you; for you will arrive
wise and experienced, having long since perceived
the unapparent sense in Ithacas.

C.P. Cavafy

Overall, I had an awesome time, met new people, and learned new techniques for taking care of myself.


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