“I’ve heard so much about it but have never tried it.” And that was the feeling we had when we encountered a class in mediation while on vacation.
So we signed up and prepared to experience a new technique in living.
We entered a simple, unadorned room with chairs set up in a circle for the 20 participants to occupy.
The instructor started by explaining the importance of clearing the mind. And that is one of the most difficult things to do. “But,” she explained, “ You can’t see your reflection in running water: only in still water!”
“Hmm; interesting analogy,” I thought.
We must try to clear out our “judging minds,” and be open to new ideas and thoughts. Most of us keep our minds in the past or wondering about the future. She said it was difficult to stay in the present. I was reminded of a saying I had heard years ago: “The past is gone, the future is unknown. We only have right now, which is a gift. That is why we call it the present.”
She described different kinds of people” the Mr. Fix-it, who always looks for solutions to problems, the Snow-baller, who makes all problems larger than they are the longer they go forward; just like a snowball rolling down a hill.
“Our minds are like tofu;” they are blank and open. The mind takes on any flavor that is added to it, just as tofu has no flavor of its own, but takes on whatever it is served with”
And with that, we were prepared to clear our minds and be open to meditation.
In clearing our minds we would experience life in a different way. Starting with the sense of taste. This was her cue to pass around a platter of dates. “Take one but don’t eat it yet,” she told us. And she passed around the platter of dates.
“Now we are ready to enhance our sense of taste. Put the date in your mouth, but don’t chew it. First be aware of the sense of the date being in your mouth. Notice its weight, its shape and its texture. Explore it with your tongue”
After noticing the characteristics of a date, we finally were permitted to bite into it and be aware of its taste.
It’s sweetness filled my mouth in a way that I had never felt before. Although this was not the first time I had eaten a date, this awareness created a new sensation. I was really aware of the taste of a date.
I was being mindful of taste.
We went from the taste experience to focusing our attention on our breath.
“If you concentrate on your breath, breathing in and out, you will find your whole body slowing down. If thoughts break into your consciousness, just acknowledge them, push them away, and return to concentrating on your breathing.”
At the end of this first meditation class, about an hour, most of us felt more relaxed. We thought that with practice we could achieve the goal of slowing down, being more aware of our surroundings and less likely to allow ourselves to be swept into the chaos that every day life has become. IF we practice!
This was an enlightening and interesting class, and I would like very much to carry this slower version of myself through my days. But just to fact check with reality, ask me at holiday time. Let’s see whether I am dealing with that stressful time of year more successfully than I usually do.