I’m back! Thanks to my dear friend Sasha and a brand new web host. Thank you for all of your welcome back messages!
The other night I went to a Spirit Rock affiliated Buddhist meditation sitting. An incredible woman named Martine Batchelor was the guest speaker. I could have curled up and listened to her stories all nght long.
She won our hearts immediately, when a few minutes into the sitting she said, “We’re not trying to do anything special here, or be anything special. We’re just watching.” Matt and I, who have never meditated before, breathed a sigh of relief. We were already trying to be “good” meditators, ones that have insights and don’t fall asleep.
Nevertheless, I dozed off repeatedly, only catching myself as my body teetered forward almost hitting the person in front of me. I thought way to much about sex (maybe because it was inappropriate?), made mental lists of things I needed to do once it was over, obsessed about whether I had turned my cell phone off, and was just generally thinking way too much. I tried to “come back to my breath”, and found myself starting to hyperventilate. Every once in a while, I would open my eyes and look around the room (bad meditator!) to see if anyone else had their eyes open (we could share a friendly thumbs up) but I was the only one. I imagined I was in the Matrix and everyone in the room was frozen in time but me.
The dharma talk was about teachers, and she described different types: the guru, the master/disciple relationship, and guides.
She told a story about a teacher she had when she was a nun in Korea for 10 years. He was the master teacher in the temple and the nuns rarely saw him. His teachings were not that direct. When she did, she would ask a question like, “How can I improve my meditation practice?” He would pause, not say a word, look at her. Maybe he didn’t hear me, she thought, and repeated the question. Again, he paused, silent, and finally said, “You know what to do.”
And of course, she discovered that she did.
She said that when he died, an enormous light went out in the temple. Even though they rarely saw him, they all found themselves lost. Martine realized that what he had done was hold a space for them. His teaching came from having enough faith in them to say, “You know what to do,” and not from having all the answers.
Maybe some of our greatest teachers are the ones that simply give us the gift of faith, and believe in us.
I’m so glad you’re back.
It’s great to have you back. We’ve missed you.
You are truly inspirational.
As a seventeen year old who paints, photographs, beads, and plays guitar and piano. it’s hard to think of where an outlet for my creativity can go, and sometimes i get discouraged and think that i can never make anything out of that creativity in the “real world” and that i will be stuck at a job someday that i don’t want to have. but with such inherent creativity that is really hard to think about. And then, I was reading a SARK book that she mentioned you in, and I decided to take a gander at your website. and You have inspired me so much, and have made me think that if I really want to do it, and I really work hard at it, that I will be able to.
Thank you so much ! and keep shining !
good post. it was just the kind of post i needed to read. thank you!
good post. it was just the kind of post i needed to read. thank you!
Lovely post. I’m happy to have met you this past weekend, and I’m so glad your site is back!!
This is why we love you, this is why it felt so empty without you. Your stories always hit me right where and when I need them.
As for your actual meditation experience; when I started “learning to meditate”, they told us that all of those things (falling asleep, hyperventilating, thinking “forbidden” thoughts, etc.)are very normal, particularly as your mind doesn’t want to give in to the process. How wonderful that you and your boy experienced this lovely teacher together!
Hey I have had the same things happening to me during meditation. I think you will find that the sex thoughts, the opening eyes, the hyperventilating and the planning- your- day thoughts are all pretty typical to someone doing meditation.
Buddha saw them as dragons, fireballs and hurricanes, and clearing the mind of these is the one task to get done with during meditation.
It is pretty neat how you found that out the first time.
A great misinterpretation with meditation is that it is somehow relaxing for the body. That couldn’t be further from the truth because concentrating on “nothing”, is the hardest thing we will ever do. If it was so easy to relax then these obstacles would not keep bothering us when we are quiet. Once they are cleared away, the body gets closer to relaxation, but not the way relaxation happens on a couch. It is closer to rejuvenation I guess. At least this is the way with Zazen.
If i can suggest a great book to read, if you are interested in these things, (he calls them mind-weeds) it is called “Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind” by Suzuki Roshi. It is one of those books that you will keep going back to. It can help in daily exercises too, where meditation is not done at a Temple, with a Sangha or sitting on the floor.
Enjoy your travels into meditation andy.
Email me sometime too.
hello – just wanted to say thanks for your lovely site, and for the link to KCRW on your links page. It’s been a wonderful re-discovery of an old favorite and the music has kept me going most of the day while tethered to my computer here at work. so, thanks!
I so needed to hear this today. Thank you for your insightful, inspiring stories.
thank you for your messages! I feel so welcomed back. 🙂
and I love your thoughts on meditation. I love hearing that it’s just hard, and it’s not necessarily supposed to be relaxing. I think that will change my whole practice!
welcome back andrea, we’ve all missed you as you can see.
i used to meditate – or practise a form of meditative prayer called centering. it was a practice that the capuchin monks taught and used. we pick a word from the bible and focus on it… the more you focus on it, and try to cut out those other thoughts, the more those thoughts came in to intrude. i kept trying and when i found my center, (only a few times) – it was a feeling of falling but in a good way. i usually come out feeling refreshed. a truly treasured experience.
Thank you. How true this is. And how often I need to and want to be this type of teacher for others.
Oh, I haven’t said this before, but I have one of your SUPERHERO necklaces. EVERY time I wear it I get great compliments about it. So, since you are the creator, I thought I’d pas that on to you. Thanks!!
Thank you again!!
Hello. It has been so long since we have spoken. I am pleased to see that your enticing spirit and adventurous soul have once again produced captivating works of art. I looked at all of the jewlery and decided that I am a “glamour puss”, however I can’t seem to access the link to place an order. I am sending in some pictures to be considered for your photo book–Love from New Orleans