The New York Times has an article on what to wear while meditating that notes the availability of clothes designed for meditation, such as the $1,000 sweatpants from Donna Karan's Urban Zen line. (shown below)
Sitting in a rehearsal studio on Saturday morning with about twenty strangers at a trauma relief training workshop, I found myself wondering about the value of stories. As a writer, that’s an almost blasphemous thing to admit.
But as I listened to teacher and counselor William Spear talk about the relationship between trauma, somatic expressions of emotion, and recovery, I had to think about my own relationship to my emotions.
One of the more distinctive concepts in Buddhism is non-self. It does not mean that you do not exist physically. It does mean that you don't exist as a permanent, solid, independent entity. "You" are as changeable as the weather -- and that's good news. You're not always angry, not always sad, not always giddy or goofy. You sometimes are all of those (I hope), but you cycle through them.
Oh sister, am I lazy! I didn’t get up early enough this morning. I didn’t finish all the work I said I was going to do. I left the dishes in the sink, and the laundry unwashed. I haven’t cleaned in weeks. I seem to have quit my meditation practice as well! I don’t know what the point is anyway: if you could see into my mind on the meditation cushion, you’d know how awfully awful bad I am at it.
If you follow news on science and meditation on the Internet, you might believe that meditation is the new penicillin, a wonder drug that can create most of what ails you. Research studies show it has benefits for those who suffer from anxiety, high blood pressure, digestive problems, etc etc.
So the headline "Meditation Increases Sex Drive" seemed like more of the same -- evidence that meditation is just generally good. (It's also kind a duh. Ask anyone who's gone on a prolonged retreat what sitting on the cushion thinking -- or not thinking -- does for your sex drive.)
When we get too busy our awareness is compromised. When relatives come to visit, or I'm trying to catch an airplane, or I just have a million things to do, my mind doesn't feel like an ally. Suddenly keys disappear, sunglasses hide on top of my head, important things go unnoticed.
Our minds are like one of those springs in the back of a wind-up toy. Sure, winding up the spring makes you like a to-do-list-destroying, six-armed Energizer Bunny. Sometimes we need that to get things done, but the down side is that winding the spring tightly means there is no space between our thoughts.
In developing mindfulness through meditation, we're advised to drop the storyline and simply be aware of what's happening in the moment.
For instance, in this moment, I'm sitting in the largely empty newsroom of a daily newspaper. It's bit chilly and a bit darker than usual since it's snowing out. My hands are cold. The police radio chatters away, the voices matter-of-fact. That's what's happening.
I have been thinking about the six Paramitas. The Paramitas, or the six transcendent actions, are a way of getting over ourselves. They are generosity, virtue, patience, energy, concentration, and wisdom. Paramita means to cross over. It is said that practicing the Paramitas is the way to cross over the ocean of samsara, the cycle of suffering. They are an inward and outward practice. We cultivate the mind states and the physical practices. They help us let go, little by little, of all the armor we are wearing. The second, virtue, is also translated as conduct or discipline.