Tag Archive: meditation

During that “in-between” time right after college (and before starting “real life”) I decided that I was going to learn to juggle.  I suppose it was the beginning of my “bucket list” – I wasn’t going to die before I could juggle.

I picked up a Klutz book and opened it up.  The first direction:  “Drop the balls on the ground.  Get used to that sound, as you’ll be hearing it a lot.”  Yep, they were right.  But after some, okay a lot, of practice, I got it.   Three balls.  In the air. Not on the floor.  Yay, me!

I enjoy it so much that I started juggling objects other than the hacky sack/beanbags that came with my set.  I was especially fond of koosh balls, because I could jam three of them in a pocket and take them with me anywhere.  And, if you take me to the toy section of the department store, I’m likely to be found juggling rubber balls in the aisle.  Even better is the sporting goods store!  I can really challenge myself there.  (Although I’ve noticed that the staff tends to frown on stray soccer/bocce/footballs bouncing around the store.)

This summer,  I decided that I wanted to learn to juggle other things – like clubs.  So, I picked up a set of clubs, and have been practicing with them.  I’m doing okay – I keep them in the air more than I drop them, but I still get backaches from bending over to retrieve scattered clubs (true story).  Although, it did prompt me to learn to do a real cool “kick-up” so I don’t have to bend over so much.

While juggling this summer, I was talking with Ellen about the tattoos we wanted to get for our 15th anniversary.  I knew I wanted a Buddhism-related one, and I had settled on an Om in a lotus, sort of stylized.  The key word was “settled”. It would have been cool, but it wasn’t speaking to me.  Since this would be my first tattoo, I wanted it to be just right.  I don’t know who suggested it, so I’ll give us each half credit, but someone said “How about a juggling buddha?”

Hello! Perfect!

I’m no juggling expert, and I’m no Buddhism expert, but I see a lot of connections.

Juggling reminds me a lot about what attracts me to the whole Meditation/Buddhism universe.

In juggling…

  • there are many distractions in your surroundings.  To keep the cascade going, you have to acknowledge the distractions and let them go.
  • you have to concentrate on what is in front of you, or it will fall apart.
  • if you try to grab for the balls/clubs, the cascade will fall.  You have to let them come to you.
  • when you catch, you must do so gently.
  • there are only so many things you can keep in the air.  As you practice, you get better at it.
  • when you are able to keep the cascade going, it’s a joyful experience.
  • what you think is real is an illusion.  Someone juggling 4 balls is really juggling 2 in each hand. (Shh…don’t tell.)
  • you have to let things go with the right velocity and rotation for them to arrive safely in your other hand.
  • it takes a lot of practice to see results.

Sound familiar?

In thinking about the design, I came up with the image of a “laughing buddha” to represent that joyful feeling of being able to keep everything in balance.  I chose five balls for him to be juggling, using the traditional colors of a prayer flag.  I decided that one should be on the ground, as it’s impossible to keep everything “up in the air” and we need to decide what things to put down.

When researching what the colors of the prayer flags meant, this is what I found out:

  • Blue: sky/space
  • White: air/wind
  • Red: fire
  • Green: water
  • Yellow: ground

Coincidentally, the one I had chosen to leave on the ground was the yellow one. Appropriate!

I had this image in my mind of what it would look like, but hadn’t done anything about it yet.  I then started sitting with the Online Meditation Crew, and saw that The Kamikazen was designing twitter avatars for some of the crew members.  I asked him if he would like to take a stab at this tattoo design.  Much to my surprise, and excitement, he said yes.

We spent a few days of back and forth with descriptions/drawings.  What I was looking for was different than his usual style, so he had to work a little outside his comfort zone, and I wasn’t very good at explaining what I could see in my head.  Once it was all said and done, this is what he came up with:

This was almost exactly what I was seeing in my head, with a little Kamikazen twist to it.

All the avatars that The Kamikazen had designed he turned into t-shirts that you can purchase.  This one is no exception.  You, too, can have this way cool design on a t-shirt (or a hoody, or long sleeve tee, or onesie, or a sticker), just by following this link*.  Proceeds from the sale of this t-shirt (and the other ones in the store*) go to charitable causes, so buy a couple of them!

Just when you thought it couldn’t get any better, it does!  Notice on the t-shirt there is some text below the design.  It says, “Balance…It’s all up in the air.”  This perfect tagline was added by the OMC’s founder ZenOutlaw!!

What a great collaboration – thank you KamikaZEN and Zen Outlaw!

Now, to get up the courage to get the ink put on…

*Update (9:00pm) – moments after I published this post, The Kamikazen announced the launch of the official Online Meditation Crew store.  The link in the article works (as of this writing), but for the latest up-to-date stuff go here:  I Want My OMC Gear! or, you can go right to the page with the Juggling Buddha.

Update (again) (9/13) – Just released!!! The Juggling Buddha in color!!  Get yours now!

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?