Monday, April 21, 2008

A New Face in the Circle

He was waiting outside the yoga studio door when I arrived for meditation, sort of looking like a lost puppy. A boy hardly older than my daughter. Our first exchange:

Me: Are you here for meditation?
Boy: Yeah, are you the teacher?
Me: No, I just happen to have a key to open the door.
Boy: Will there be a teacher? Will someone show me how to do this?
Me: It’s pretty much self-taught. You will be fine.

As we were setting out blankets and candles and generally getting ready to meditate:

Me: How did you find our meditation group?
Boy: Through yoga. I’m new to all this stuff. I can’t sleep. Can you tell?

I gave him some ideas about how to get started. I told him it was OK not to be perfectly still. I invited the bell 3 times and three of us began our sit.

For the first 15 minutes he fidgeted and cracked his knuckles. Then he got up, walked over and got an eyebag, lay down, and proceeded to go to sleep. I guess meditation had solved his insomnia problem.

I rang the bell at the end of 30 minutes and he continued to sleep. Marjorie and I looked at each other as we tried to figure out how to bypass his sleeping body in our walking meditation. But then as I sounded the little shrill bell to begin, he woke up.

His initial attempt was to leap to his part of the circle and then he realized how slowly and deliberately we were walking. He had soon mastered this form of meditation.

But even as Marjorie slipped out, he settled in for the second sit, or sleep as was actually the case after another round of knuckle-cracking. This time I made sure the bell loudly announced the end of the sit.

Our final exchange:

Me: How was your sit?
Boy: I never really figured out how to do it.
Me: It comes with practice.
Boy: How was yours? What do you think about?
Me: I try not to dwell on any one thing, but rather to calm my mind.

Sensing that he could really profit from some uninterrupted sleep, I asked if he had to go on to work or school. Work at 9 AM.

As with so many people, we see them once and then they don’t come back. I don’t know if it’s the utter silence or the discipline of sitting still or the frustration of not achieving what they think they should be doing.

I’m thinking a 15-minute sit at the beginning of his day would do this boy a lot of good. It would actually do most people a lot of good.


Blogger mouse (aka kimy) said...

i quite enjoyed this little tale.

for some inexplicable reason I feel this boy will return....

and yes, a fifteen minute sit would do most of us good!

9:07 PM  
Blogger Richard said...

Learning to relax, focusand clear our minds is an important skill.

Although, when we get busy, we can forget that and often fall into looking for quick fixes. I do not have any calming ritual of my own (except to be alone - 15 minute fixes don't seem to work with me, or else I haven't found the right one, yet).

9:10 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Mouse -- I'm not holding my breath, but I have resolved to politely ask him not to crack his knuckles if he does come back.

Richard -- Have you tried meditating?

10:24 PM  
Blogger Pauline said...

oh those blissful blocks of time where one lets the mind do what it does without having to pay excessive attention to it. I am much better at walking meditation and have been doing it for years, though what I called "spacing out" as a child works well on occasion.

6:35 AM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Pauline -- I still space out regularly and it works well!

7:40 AM  
Blogger Reya Mellicker said...

There are many great meditation classes offered all over DC.

The classes I've taken have helped me establish my long-term practice. I still like to dip in to a class structure every now and then to refresh my memory about why and how it's done.

If you see him again, maybe suggest that he google for info on a structured class. The Insight Meditation Society of Washington DC is supposed to be very good.

8:54 AM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Reya -- Truthfully I think the boy is much more interested in learning how to sleep (again) than he is in learning how to meditate.

9:51 AM  
Blogger Richard said...

I tried various forms of meditation and hypnosis (somewhere during the ages of 14-16). Definitely by the time I left high school (grade 11 in Quebec), I had little interest in the new age, paranormal, occult type of things.

I found the meditation relaxing, but it didn't really offer me much beyond relaxing. I sometimes use the techniques to help guide Tania and Jason to sleep. Of course, if they are totally wired, even that doesn't help.

4:16 PM  
Blogger Kellyann Brown said...

fifteen precious minutes in the morning. I admit, I wake up early, so I can sip my morning coffee and read the paper in the morning light. Some moments of stillness are of extreme value.

A support group that I attended taught the mindfulness of breath. This was very relaxing and I continue to breathe in order to counteract anxiety.

Do you have a maze on the floor to walk?

6:28 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Richard -- Maybe you should give meditation another try in your more mature state!

Kelly -- We simply walk in a circle around the blankets which are arranged like a clockface.

Five minutes of walking meditation would never allow us to walk a labyrinth!

6:41 PM  

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