I solely meditated at home by myself for the good first year or so with HeadSpace. The duration was extending, I started doing walking meditation here and there, and at the theater before the show starts for a few minuets. Then something shifted. I had a hunch that there was more to this meditation thing. So I googled “meditation NYC”, got overwhelmed by the numbers of places, and just randomly picked one of the Zen centers because…..? I’m Japanese OF COURSE.
Zen (or Chán in Chinese) is school of Mahayana Buddhism. My tiny understanding is that it emphasizes in being in service to others with open and gentle heart. And they have lots of rules and forms to follow concerning the practice itself. Usually Zen centers in NYC are open to public and have the first timer instruction lessons on certain days. Basically they tell you how to enter the room and bow with everyone together somewhat like how martial arts classes you bow and all that. Some places lend you a robe to wear. And it’s usually not guided meditation (zazen). They may have a short chanting which I don’t mind just following along. (They usually have booklet for you to look) The places I went to did 30 minuets sitting – 5 to 10 minuets walking inside- 20 to 30 minuets sitting. Or 45 minuets just sitting. You get the idea.
So I went and it was a stretch for me to sit that long. I was somehow sweating like crazy! For good or bad, I felt accountable or supported sitting next to someone (strangers) otherwise I would have given up. I felt pretty goof afterwords too with pins and needles on my feet. Haha. There is something about gathering with others to sit silently together. It makes me giggle a little but I like it still. Usually the place is very simple, minimum decoration, and beautiful in that sense. I went back for a few weeks then explored more to the different places. But there is something that felt very comfortable reminding me of home. I actually went to a week long retreat in a Zen place in Catskill but that’s for another post.