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.”
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.
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)
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 …
May has finally warmed things up in the Midwest after a never-ending winter, and now the buds, blossoms and green fields are singing everywhere — I have even spotted a real live elbow or two (a sure sign of spring) while out and about. I am on Month Two Point Five of my “time out” from the city and I continue to make good on the promise to myself that I would not get bored. Outside of work and school, I intend to find new people, places and things and interesting things to do. People live here for a reason, right?
I’ll be honest; Northern Illinois bores me to absolute tears. I know I am not long for this area because I am here for a reason and I am dedicated to discovering things that I had not known while growing up, nor back for ocassional visits. I’ve officially made peace with Woodstock, but c’mon you all drive me crazy Illinois.
When I go to grocery stores and ask if they have organic vegetables, they look at me as if I am the Creature from the Black Lagoon. A produce guy said to me, “I’ve been eating these pesticides my whole life and nothing has happened to me!” I laughed, said “me too!” and sashayed away. We’ve all been eating them but now it’s time to stop, Bubs! I don’t expect it to be Organic Town USA here, but I do enjoy the conversations it can encourage. Northern Illinois has a huge resistance to it.
I have never understood McHenry County and probably never will. I went to the local community college because I heard they had a map of all the county trails but when I pulled into the main parking lot, I almost fell out of my car. Literally. They had created a mock-cemetery in the front yard of all the babies aborted. There were vicious signs everywhere. I was aghast. At the community college. eeee-gads. I’ve often commented that it feels more like Texas here than Texas.
There is something about this county that just does not want to be budged.
So be it, I am only a visitor.
My temporary explorations must carry on! The curious mind has pushed me across the border to Wisconsin, once again. My ex-sister-in-law Wendy and her family live in Linn Township and we have long considered each other as family, even though technically we are no longer. Wendy’s oldest son, Jackson, now five, has autism and recently they added Inka, the German autism service dog, to their rowsy family. Inka was trained in Germany and continues her training locally yet has a fairly substantial bill to support her services. Wendy and her neighbors are really good about creating events to support each other and a few weeks ago they hosted a partial-walk around Lake Geneva to raise funds to defer some of Inka’s training costs. The walk ended at Foley’s Bar & Grill where they offered a special Reuben sandwich for the day and sponsored a meat raffle. yes a meat raffle, say what?! Tables & tables of meat were raffled off, I’ve never seen anything like it. I won a huge a Wisconsin salami.
So this was not only a great event to be involved in, it totally sparked my memory that there is a 20-something-mile path that goes all the way around the lake and it’s open to the public. Over the past two weeks, I have hit this trail and it is SPECTACULAR.
As you make your way around the lake, homes that are not visible from anywhere but the lakefront are visible, as are their gorgeous landscapes and lake-faring accouterments. No two homes are the same and the path is varied and semi-rugged, by going through golf courses, flat beaches, endless green lawns and beautiful lakefront patios and so on. I recommend remaining very respectful because you are very close to people’s homes, but there certainly are areas you can sit back and take in the views. I sat at William Wrigley’s boat slip to take in the sunset — very serene indeed.
I look forward to learning more about Lake Geneva this summer, especially because this is FREE! Things just taste better when they are free, yahvoh!
I am completely grateful my health has returned (WHEW!) and my legs are strong once again and ready to hike, hike hike. Ever since I read Cheryl Strayed’s “WILD” when I was in Lake Tahoe a few weeks ago, I am feeling compelled to plan a super-big hike, but not entirely the same as Cheryl Strayed’s hike of the Pacific Crest Trail.
I back-packed through Northern Arizona several years ago and hiking with a monster-backpack is very hard work — I felt very tall and my legs were never stronger. It’s hot and dirty, dusty and smelly but I absolutely loved the experience — even though a mountain lion growled at me and I thought I was going to die right there. I didn’t.
That was an experience a woman should experience in her twenties, and that’s about when I had mine. Except I think I was 32. I am looking to do something different now and will continue to research and plan.
My legs are ready to climb things again, this much I know. A treadmill will not cut it.
Next up, mom’s ashes are going for a swim. Thank you for reading my words, I do appreciate it. xo
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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 ….
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 😀