Get Your Zen Here


I finally did it. After a year of being in Indiana, I finally went to the Zen Buddhist group.

Are you surprised to find out there’s a Zen Buddhist group near Gary? Me too. Yet they’ve been meeting regularly for more than 30 years!

I’ve had it on my calendar as a recurring event for literally (and I mean that literally) the last year. “Meditation 7pm” it says every Tuesday. And every week I look at that little block of time and think “nah.” So I would click on the little garbage can and erase all memory of even thinking I would go.

But yesterday was the first day of spring, and I thought – what would it be like to actually go, instead of just having the intent to go? What would happen if I just sat my ass down, closed my eyes and did nothing with a group of strangers? Would it be weird? Would I like it? If I do like it, how will I feel about adding this recurring meeting to my already rather busy schedule?

Alternatively – what if I don’t like it? What then?

Well, the only way to find out is to go, so I went. And you know what – I liked it.

OK, that’s a lie.

It was actually really, really hard. I think that’s why maybe I’ve been putting off going. Because meditating can actually be kind of unpleasant. I’ve got monkey mind. And I’ve discovered that sitting on the floor for any length of time is kind of uncomfortable.

When I meditate at home, I consider myself a champ if I do it for 20 minutes. You know how long this group meditates? 45 minutes! I kind of had a small, private panic attack when the leader said that before we began. Good lord, I have to be silent and still with my own thoughts for 45 minutes?

There were about two-dozen folks there, and we started with some chanting followed by a 20 minute seated meditation. I decided to sit cross-legged on the floor on the meditation cushion. About 10 minutes in, my left foot fell asleep. It was agonizing! Not only was mind all over the place and the spot between my shoulder blades aching, but the pins-and-needles sensation in my foot was magnified by the mere act of focusing on it.

After 20 minutes, we stood for a five-minute walking meditation. I was concerned I might immediately fall down, but luckily my left foot decided not to embarrass me in front of all these new people.

After taking a quick stroll around the sanctuary, we had another 20 minute seated meditation. This time I thought I’d sit the other way, where you turn the round meditation cushion on its side, straddle it and kneel. It started out OK, but after 10 minutes my right foot fell asleep.

When did I get so old?

At the end we did some more chanting and then went around the circle and introduced ourselves. Surprisingly, I was not the only brand new person in attendance. Unsurprisingly, nearly every person had a delightful sense of humor. The Dairy Queen across the street was giving away free ice cream, and it was speculated there were so many new people because we got confused and went to the wrong place. Then we adjorned for tea and cookies. Everyone seemed really excited about the cookies.

Did I love it? No.

Am I going back? Yes.