Archive for August, 2010

The Online Meditation Crew has a Facebook group.  At first I was hesitant to join.

Sometimes I feel like I’m holding two different worlds in tension.  There is the one that I grew up with, where Christianity is the norm.  Then there is the one in which I can explore spirituality and religion without worrying about what society expects of me.

Facebook and Twitter mirror those worlds for me.  In Twitter, I have the shield of anonymity that I can hide behind if I need to, so it feels safe.  It is the place that I can explore and connect and get answers and try things on for size.

Facebook is more like “real life” for me.  All of my friends on Facebook (save two) are people that I know in real life – whether it’s friends from high school, former coworkers, or people from my current social circle, which centers around the Episcopal Church (in fact 18% of my friends are priests).

The Online Meditation Crew is Twitter.  It is a place where I can let my guard down, ask questions, explore.  I really like what I see, what I am doing, and what I am learning and experiencing. I don’t hold any illusions that I actually know the people I’m sitting with, but it really doesn’t matter.  We are all part of the same universe, and as such part of each other.  All the rest is details.

My fear was that my Twitter/OMC/Buddhist world would suddenly collide with my Facebook/Christian world and I would somehow end up chucked to the side from both.

And, lest you think this fear is unfounded, I must relate a story about two things that happened in church recently.

There was an opportunity for parishioners to join in “centering prayer“.  I thought it sounded great and joined the group on their first “sit”.  To me, everything about centering prayer was what I had learned about meditation.  There was one person in the group who was adamant (and I don’t think that’s a strong enough word) that this wasn’t meditation at all, and he tried to throw some theology in behind it to back up his opinion.  I still say that if you strip away all the trappings…it’s meditation.

The second story is about a person who was coming in to the parish to lead a workshop on yoga.  There wasn’t anything religious about her presentation from what I could tell – it was just about using yoga techniques to help center you in both mind and body.  The person who was organizing this workshop got up on two consecutive Sundays to try to get people to sign up.  She stressed both times that it was not some other religion that was being practiced so no one had to worry.

So, I see fear from the Christians, and I don’t know the Buddhists (or enough about Buddhism to be secure in it) yet, and I was afraid of what would happen when the two met.

During today’s OMC scheduled meditation session, it suddenly hit me.  It’s not about Christianity, or Buddhism, or Facebook, or Twitter, or “real life”, or “online life”.  It’s about ego.  My ego was getting in the way of me being who I am.  This is the way I am experiencing the universe, and the way the universe is experiencing me right now.  At this moment.

And this moment will be gone immediately to be replaced by another moment and another way of experiencing.  It’s time to let go and be.

I joined the OMC Facebook group.

My daughter had wanted to ride horses for a couple of years (and Ellen secretly – or not so secretly – wanted to ride with her). We finally relented and KJ started riding lessons. At the beginning of the summer we decided to use the money from the lessons instead to half-lease a horse, so KJ could ride whenever she wanted to.

This worked out great, and we leased Brandy. KJ was so excited, and really bonded with that horse. She would take her out several times a week, and even showed her at a local horse show. She was getting Brandy ready to show at the county fair next week.

Over the weekend we got a message from the stable – Brandy was colicky and it was probably best that KJ not come out to ride. One of the girls at the stable had taken Brandy out for a trail ride and apparently it was too much.

Yesterday was the first day of school, and KJ’s first day in middle school. She was a bundle of nerves and energy. About mid-day we got the word – Brandy didn’t survive. In the afternoon we got to see the joy, the excitement, the laughter that came from KJ’s great day at a new school, but we knew that we were about to smash her world in two. Ellen told her about Brandy, and she ran crying to her room.

I was devastated. I felt so helpless. I just wanted to wrap her up in my arms and keep the world out. But, of course, I couldn’t. And shouldn’t.

An aside: the worst part of this for me is the feeling that I let KJ down. I never got to see her ride Brandy. I always had something else to do when she was out at the stable to ride. I legitimately couldn’t make the horse show – I was doing something with our son. I was really looking forward to the county fair. I was so proud of what she was doing, and I know now how fragile this existence can be. I pledge to be better in the future, and I hope I don’t fail too bad in that endeavor.

The Christian in me is conditioned to say that Brandy is in a better place, God has a plan, and all that stuff that is meant to make it better, but really doesn’t help very much.

The Buddhist in me is learning that life is a cycle, and we will get through this like we get through everything else. More comforting for me, but hard to explain to a 10 year old.

The Dad in me knows that I love my daughter (and all my children) more than anything else in the world, and I will always be there for her, through the both the joy and the pain.

KJ and Brandy

KJ and Brandy

KJ and Brandy

Into the wind...

I love you KJ.

I’ve made a decision about this blog.  (If you want to skip the rest of this post, the decision is – I’m keeping it.)

This blog blinked into existence as a project for a class I was taking (I won a free Freshworkshops course in WordPress!).  For the class I had to install and configure WordPress.  To really work it, I had to add posts.  I hit on the domain name, but I really didn’t know where I was going with it.  I really was interested in learning WordPress as a concept.  I didn’t really want to make this an online journal of my day-to-day activities.  I already have that blog.  So, I added a couple of posts about things that were kind of on my mind – nothing earthshattering.

Recently, I’ve been wondering what to do with the blog, and I had decided to get rid of it.  I could use the hosting account for something else, and I wasn’t really going anywhere with the content, so I thought it would be better to just scrap it.

But now I’ve discovered the OMC, and I think I should use this forum to explore my meditation, and Buddhism, and see where I go with that.  If you think of spirituality as “many paths, one truth”, I think I have just stepped off the path I’ve grown up with and I’m looking around.  Not moving forward, not moving backward, but taking in the view.

I still don’t know where I’m going with this, but it should be an interesting journey.

That would explain why the posts that have been sitting here for almost a year are not here any longer.  (And I’ll be changing the theme, too, probably.)

Today I was looking forward to the OMC meditation, and tuned in to Twitter to see when it would be.  Much to my disappointment, there was no meditation scheduled officially for the OMC.  Instead, people were doing “Stop. Drop. Meditate.”  This is basically an impromptu offer to meditate.  Several people did this during the day, but never at a time when I was able to join.

I realized that if I wanted to sit, I was going to have to do it myself.  So, I put out a stop.drop.meditate call saying that I was going to sit if anyone wanted to join me.  I didn’t know what to expect, and having only been part of this crew for a couple of days, I feared that I would be ignored and left to sit on my own.  Fortunately, @metalbuddha chimed in that he would join me.

I gave the call to start and it was a good sit.  At least as good as any I’ve had in this beginning meditation practice.  It made me feel good when @metalbuddha commented that he had really needed to sit just then.

It was good to have the support there.  Made me feel like I can actually do this.

A couple of weeks ago, while on vacation, I came across a website for the Online Meditation Crew. It is a group of people who get together via Twitter to sit in meditation. The people involved don’t necessarily know each other in real life, but they all share a common bond.

I have wanted to meditate for quite some time, but despite the occasional start, have never been able to make it stick. I started seeing this group as an opportunity to prod myself (or shame myself) into developing a practice regimen. As it was vacation, I knew that I wasn’t going to be able to start anything, so I tucked away the website figuring that I would get back to it once I returned home.

20/40 prayer pose
Creative Commons License photo credit: effekt!

I did pretty good.  I had been home only a couple of days when I decided to look up the OMC again and see what I needed to do.   I found out that the sitting on Wednesday was scheduled for 4:00.  I figured that that would be easy to do as I was sitting at the computer all day, trying to get caught up on work.  In the middle of the afternoon, I was getting pretty tired and suggested to Ellen that we go to Home Depot to pick up some of the things for around the house projects that we had been looking for.

We arrived back home at 4:10.   First thing I noticed on Twitter was the people who had checked in for the meditation session.  Damn, I missed it.

Still, I tried not to look at it as a setback, but rather an opportunity to follow along on Twitter a little more.  The next day – Thursday – the call went out that the session would be at 2:00.  I was bound and determined to make that one.

It was great.  Great being a relative term.  It felt really good to be sitting, and even better to be doing it knowing that there were others “in the room” with me.  Just prior to 2:00 I “checked-in”, so I couldn’t hide behind the facade of anonymity or shyness.  The practice itself wasn’t anything to write home about.  I was just happy to have sat quietly for 15 minutes.  I figure that once I get used to doing it, and it becomes a regular part of my life, that those details will come.  I don’t need it to be perfect right out of the gate.

Otherwise, we wouldn’t call it practice, right?