Monday, February 18, 2008

Meditative Mondays

This is another feature I'll try to keep up in this journal - meditation and what I'm trying to do in my meditation practice. Unfortunately, with work stress and lack of time, I've cut out a lot of things such as taking the time to exercise, meditation, enjoy Lao ceremonies and culture. Although I attend ceremonies at my local temple, give food to the monks, and listen to the chanting of the monks, it's not the same as meditation practice.

In the past, I've taken time for longer term meditation retreats. I've gone to Wat Suan Mohk, a Buddhist temple in southern Thailand, several times during the 80's and 90's, both for ten-day meditation retreats and short stopovers of a few days. The meditation center was founded at the existing temple years ago by Bhikkhu Bodhadassa who, although a monk following the Theravadan teachings, taught Mahayanan principles about compassion for all sentient beings.

It cracks me up that the center now has a web site. When I used to go there, there was no international meditation center, just a few wooden buildings for foreign visitors and a sala (an open building with just a roof and floor) for the meditation sessions.

I've also gone to Wat Pa Nanachat, the International Forest Temple, in Ubon. The Abbot was a Canadian (might still be the same person) and had studied with the Temple's founder, Achaan Cha, for years.

Anyway, this is getting away from my main points. Meditation doesn't depend on 'taking a class' or relying on going away someplace here. Practice is based on the here and now and all the tools that one needs is the body and the breath. It's strange that taking this time, even for 15 minutes, ends up being so difficult to put aside. Sometimes it is a struggle to keep the consciousness in the here and now, and it can be very tiring. Sometimes there are itches that provide distractions and sudden thoughts enter the mind like runaway fugitives.

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