Meditation is Hard — But Getting Softer

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I have dabbled in meditation here and there over the years but it wasn’t until this past February that I found myself sitting in the local buddhist temple, which is a strikingly peaceful oasis to sit and soak in the silence.  And to begin my foray back into mediation.  These Buddhist Monks hail from Sri Lanka and I can’t pronounce any of their names except I have recently learned that the equivalent of “Father Sujatha” is “Bhante Sujatha” so I find it’s safest to call each of them “Bhante.”

Bhantes

A few months ago it was all I needed to sit in the beautiful temple to attempt to quiet my mind, which ping-ponged all over the place like a mad chicken on crack.  I was all over the place so the silence did my mind and body good, and I probably tweaked and twitched as I sat there in the silence.  It doesn’t matter, any and all are welcome at this temple and I totally appreciate the warm welcome they gave me.

As the weeks unraveled and I began to recover from everything that had happened over the past year, I was having more and more questions for the Monks and requiring more direction.  Three nights per week they host silent mediations, followed up by a talk from Bhante Sujatha, if he is in town or one of the others.  When Bhante speaks, he refers to the benefits of his mediation and how he is able to allow things to bounce off him and not bother him and is accepting of most situations in life; he is always harmonious with life.  These are my words and not his; he would never say something so arrogant as this.  I’m sure of it.

My questions during class hover around, “so in order to get to this place of acceptance, can you suggest maybe five or six ways to achieve this through mediation?”  No, just continue to practice and you will see.  “But my thoughts stampede out to the wildest situations, usually sexual in nature or something along those lines, but it is never still, always racing.”  Just keep coming here and you will see.

This worked for a few weeks but I knew that I was in need of some direction, because I really want to reign in my thoughts and quiet the mind. I’ve had glimpses of this in the recent past and know it’s possible, so my desire led me to search for more.  It led me to google things!

Another benefit of the exploration years in San Francisco is that I used to take T’ai Chi lessons in the park in the early mornings and I remembered how calming it was for me.  I googled t’ai chi and soon stumbled upon Qi Gong, another Asian healing art I studied briefly a long time ago and was drawn to it because it’s referred to as the Mother of T’ai Chi.

LeeHolden

It didn’t take long for me to have an A HA moment and realize this is where I wanted to spend my time.  I googled deeper into Qi Gong and discovered Lee Holden.  He has a few free youtubes and I was hooked with 7 Minutes of Magic that was filmed in Sand Harbor Beach in Lake Tahoe, as well as taking a class at the Temple.  I knew I was starting to wake up because for the first time in a very long time, I was ready to go some where.  I went to South Lake Tahoe.  I climbed a mountain. I did Qi Gong. T’ai Chi. Yoga. Mountain Biking. Hot springs. Ate organic salads. Had a blast!

 

Of course I made a Vine too (I am @meagburnt on Vine)
meagburnt Vine Lake Tahoe

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2OvA9Hg9u8w&feature=em-upload_owner

Since returning home I signed up for Lee’s online classes because his world head quarters are in Santa Cruz, California. Or perhaps it’s his studio!  I am going to give myself 30-days to stick with it — and if I do, I will pursue taking more IRL classes.  So far, the lessons have been wonderful and my QI is starting to wake up!

No seriously, this is serious.  I am enjoying every minute of this.  After this morning’s meditation I felt the qi rising in my cheeks and shins like I had never felt them before in my life.  Who’s body is this?  It’s mine! xo

Here’s Henry the day I came home from Lake Tahoe, he was soooooooo excited to see me, he went airborne!  His qi is incredible too …

LT_larkabouts_13

Woodstock, I never knew you, but I like you

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I have been back in Woodstock, Illinois only a short time now, but I will say this; the town has made some welcomed advances that really seem to perk up the town and yank it out of the past.  It can only cling to the fact that the movie Groundhog Day was filmed here for so long, and I’m glad to see that new businesses have sprung up, with more good ones to come (and not one big-name-chain store, that I’m aware of, thankfully).

Starting first with the Woodstock Square; I now go here often, whereas in the past, I would only go for Starbucks — and that was a rarity because I have never been a fully-committed Mermaid drinker.  But now there’s the Woodstock Yoga Lounge and it’s lovely warm-tone-walled studio overlooking the square-shaped park and I adore the teachers; they do a nice job of keeping the classes fresh, because we all know that yoga can get boring quickly.

Yoga Lounge Woodstock

I am enjoying taking a combination of the beginning and Level III classes to mix it up; it’s a great way to start the day.  Looks like there will be some classes taking place outside at Emricson Park later this summer, which I look forward to as well.  Worth mentioning as well; a few of the women have been more than welcoming to me, because sometimes when I breathe and bend and stretch, I cry for no reason.  This does not make me a freak, or so I am told.

yoga meag

And for those moments when I feel hunger pangs, I have a few delicious options right on the Square as well; Expressly Leslie; a Middle Eastern vegan restaurant that first started in Caputo’s in Lake in the Hills and then reached out the Woodstock Farmer’s Market a few years ago. It was clear the demand was high for her delicious falafels and other Middle Eastern delights.  I asked my mom several times if she would like to try a falafel with the hot sauce…. “No.”  My mom bored me to tears with her habits.  I digress.

These days Leslie is is not only a very popular lunch and dinner destination in Woodstock, she also has live music on Friday nights AND it’s a BYO.  A WHAT? Woodstock has a WHAT?  Yes, it’s a BYO establishment in Woodstock, Illinois, and if and when the weather ever lightens up so that we may enjoy evenings on the sidewalk cafe,we can now bring a bottle of something special to enjoy that music on the sidewalk cafe.

Last week it was the Kishwaukee Ramblers (good music made by nice people) and I found myself tapping my toes to their folksie tunes. It seems fitting for the ambiance.  Yes that’s a harpsichord!

ramblers

My other go-to eating haunt on the Square is Taqueria La Placita.  Many of the scenes in Groundhog Day take place in the Tip Top Cafe, which is now this taco joynt, but over the years it seems whatever restaurant moved into that spot, it never survived more than a year or two.  It’s one of those locations that always has high turn over; we have all seen this; some locations just have bad chutzpah.

tiptop

However, La Placita is CRUSHING IT.  They are quickly becoming my all time local favorite, even though they are so many Mexican joynts in the area now — loco!  But it’s probably because the food is really awesome, I mean really riquisimos, they even have nopales, gorditas, huaraches, carnitas every day, breakfast all day and honestly the best aqua de jamiaca I have tasted, outside of my own (it’s not overloaded with sugar, you can literally taste the jamiaca!).  I ate a whole bowl of their salsa just this afternoon — it’s that good.  Oh yes there were a few chips involved as well.

tacos

So life in Woodstock is good, eh? When I lived here before, I honestly hated the place so when I knew I was headed back here, I made a vow to myself that I would find the good in Woodstock and make peace where I could.  This task has been made that much easier for me because of the new additions to the town — and I am committed to exploring new places out here as well.  Each weekend I have checked out a new park — I had no idea there was a glacier park in the county, as well as countless wetlands and waterlands to explore (today I was in Bates Fen Nature Preserve, as well as Highlands Park — both very beautiful — and waterlogged.).  It really is not the worst place in the world; my soul is being fed well here.  My commute to work is a killer, but my smartphone project ended this past Friday, so we’ll see what happens from here.

wetlands

I have also been meditating with the Buddhist Monks over at the Blue Lotus Buddhist Temple and it is slowly revealing layers of the onion to me.  The first time I went here was right after I signed my mom into hospice, which is just up the street and I needed some silence.  The temple obliged.  I have no idea how long I will stay with them, but so far they have been so lovely and helpful because they honestly don’t give a damn about dying. Which is not to say that’s all we discuss; it’s more about not getting too over whelmed by anything and living a good, proper and honest life.  And not forgetting to breathe ….

Blue Lotus Buddhist Temple

Bhante Sujatha even suggested I unfollow people on Facebook and Twitter and outlined his reasons why. All solid reason; I agreed and hit that almighty unfollow button. Remember, we don’t have as much time as we think.

I am making peace with Woodstock and it is taking good care of me.  For this, I am gleefully grateful 😀