It is important to go to a bit more concentrated meditation environment once in a while. The first and last time I went on a week retreat was last summer. With the show schedule 8 shows a week, I’m not be able to do that for a while. I’m trying to come up with some creative idea to sit a little longer.
My fiancé and pup went away for a few days and I had a day off to myself. It’s been 7 weeks since Miss Saigon opened. I wasn’t going to do much and enjoy just chilling out for a day without a plan.
I happened to take 10 AM class at MNDFL , which led me to take another at 11 AM, then noon… the same teacher was teaching for those three classes and told me that she was teaching another three in Williamsburg. I don’t think she was telling me to come but I said ok I’ll see you there. I ate and did a little yoga, and headed to three more classes.
In the end, I sat around 4 hours that day. That’s pretty good to me. The midday sit is usually hardest… I just fall asleep lol There was moments of that too but over all the momentum that was building up that allowed me to just be with whatever arising was fun to see.
And there comes another day, I can’t even count the breath up to 10. Haha.
I teach and practice mindfulness meditation. I only practice Vedic meditation. It’s interesting to see some people with meditation practice go about what’s good and bad or right and wrong. And I get why to some points. But really any meditation is good meditation I think.
I got interested in Vedic meditation because of the teacher training to be a mindfulness meditation teacher. My peers are all lovely people but even then when it came to Vedic meditation I felt the room went a bit defensive or skeptical. Some of my good friends in theater community practiced Vedic meditation so I just wondered why. I am in the business now and people I would start to teach were going to be those in theater community. I just wanted to be clear for people about any techniques even though not to teach, because mindfulness and Vedic meditations are two techniques that are coming to be more popular these days.
One reason some people have strong opinions about Vedic meditation is the money part. Sometimes transcendental meditation (TM) and Vedic meditation has image of taking lots of money, a week of your salary, so basically sliding scale. It’s for this 4-day course where you get initiated to the practice and get the “secret” mantra from your teacher. The amount of money you spend on the short course and the secrecy of mantra may give some people their skepticism.
But if you practice mindfulness to some extent, you start going to retreats which cost a few hundreds dollars at least (usually sliding scale available). You keep going then you could spend enough money to cover the week worth of salary. Also once you do the 4-day course, you can go back to group sitting or refresher classes for free even with different teachers. My teacher explained to me about the secrecy of the mantra like this:
Vedic meditation doesn’t work if you don’t get initiated to the practice, so if you tell your friend your mantra and she tries it, then doesn’t work. She may never try Vedic meditation again. That’s taking her possibility of practice away.
Here is my teacher Lodro Rinzler and my teacher’s teacher Thom Knoles talk about this topic.
I lived in Indiana for a year when I was young and 17 as a high school exchange student. It opened my little Japanese world to whole another level. I did not speak much English though I read and wrote all right. My loving host family was very religious in the most wonderful ways. They were kind and understanding. We still stay in touch and see each other once in a while after 16 years!!!
Anyways, I went to their Presbyterian church every Sunday for the service and adult Sunday school. I must say I really appreciated the teaching there. Though mom (I still call her that) and I have some discussions going because I am a gay man about to get married, the church was about love one another and accepting differences. A long story short, in the end of the year I was blessed by Jesus, and I had a period I called myself a Christian. I still could. What Jesus represents in the bible is wonderful. I truly can say that the relationships I had with people in Indiana opened up my heart tremendously.
In the context of meditation, Meggan Watterson talks about how there was meditation practice in Christian tradition, also about the prayer. For anything, I still learn about the bible through the RobCast.
In the end, any wisdom traditions have wonderful things to offer. And I’d say Jesus and I are in a pretty good term now.
I had started the exploration of meditating outside of HeadSpace. After many google searches and some visits to Zen center, I found one of the Tibetan temples in the city, KDK (I still don’t know how to say it lol). This one in particular because it was close to Lincoln Center Theater where I worked and I’m putting the link because I appreciate their online/home study course.
KDK is one of many lineages of Tibetan Buddhism, Kagyu. (The other main ones are Nyngma, Sakya, and Gelug). Tibetan Buddhism is school of Vajrayana Buddhism, sometimes called indestructible vehicle. Again my tiny understanding of this vast topic is that it’s to help you being awake in this life time. That’s because they emphasizes on the fact that we are all innately good inside. It has bases on other schools of Buddhism such as Mahayana and Theravada too, so it’s not their own thing to some extent. They do have unique practices of different mudras and mandalas and…. things that I don’t know but seems cool! But those unique practices are taught through real teacher-student relationship.
Anyhow, I went and it was in the basement of a building. It’s beautiful inside, lots of colors and pictures. It’s renovated well too since it’s used as a culture event center in other time. They do 5 to 10 minuets meditation called shamatha (calm abiding) twice or three times for 30 minuets, very short breaks in between. It’s semi-guided and you can ask questions in between. There is usually a monastic person from upstate leading. After that they do Dharma talk for 90 minuets or so. The teaching is very relevant to our daily life. But I usually had to go back to the theater for the evening show after the meditation.
I started their online/home study program, the Dharma Path Program as I started the teacher training at MNDFL, but that’s for another time.