Friends as well as relatives have asked me many times what meditation is. Some of the questions sounded more or less like this:
- How are you doing it?
- What for?
- Doesn’t it make you sleepier since it’s the first thing you do after waking up early in the morning?
I’ve been practising zen meditation for four years now, almost every day. Yes, this surprises me sometimes too! I trust that since it’s taken so much devotion and so much of my time, it must be something that’s really worth it.
It’s worth mentioning that I found meditation by chance. I had never looked for it and before I started I hadn’t known much about it either. But after I left London in 2009 and moved to Berlin without any concrete plan apart from learning a new language and having an adventure, I also knew that internally I was in search of peace. That time I only perceived it as seeking peace in the outside world. For example, being tired of sharing flats with random people and being bored of parties, I was longing for a quiet flatshare with one person, or if could have afforded it, a studio just for myself. Now I know that I was clearly in search of new kinds of experiences in order to learn about myself and what I truly want. And they came indeed. I happened to be sharing a flat with a zen Buddhist and this is how it started.
He introduced seating zen meditation to me and showed zen temple where he was practicing. Being honest, I found it totally crazy at first, but interesting and real at the same time. And probably thanks to this feeling that it was real and not fake, deepen my interest. I gave it a go a few times and stuck to it ever since. It’s probably the only thing in my life that I’ve been devoted to for such a long period of time. In regard of other activities I normally have an idea, then read about it, then make a research online, test it and then choose the one that seems best for me. It was not the case with zen meditation, so there is something special to it.
The reason I found it crazy is the strict Eastern culture and the discipline that practising zen truly involves. But since there are many traditions and even more schools out there, I won’t be getting into this topic at all right now.
I believe and I’ve also heard about it from other people, that any sort of activity can be meditation. I totally support this idea. Many of my close friends find interesting what I do, but they either didn’t dare to give it a go or weren’t interested enough. Many claim that they would find just seating uncomfortable and really boring, that’s why their meditation is dancing, doing sports like climbing, or seating on a sofa and listening to music. And it’s nothing wrong with that! Being a very active person myself, I can only say that although extremely challenging, seating meditation has also an enormous power to calm you down and make aware of your-self. I know that we all differ and that there are also be people who find seating zen meditation superb easy. To tell the truth – I don’t. I find it not easy and not even always comfortable and probably this hard work does the magic :)
These are some of the aspects that meditation has thought me:
- To take responsibility for my life
- To sort problems in my head first, and afterwards in the outside world
- To eliminate things that are not good for me and to nourish those that serve me well
- To be more aware and more self-confident
- To be focused and disciplined
- To be more patient
- To eat slower and breath deeper
And to get back to the question, of my lovely sister by the way, whether meditating at 5:30 or 6 am doesn’t make me sleepier. No, it does exactly the opposite! Depending on your attitude and determination, it will generate new energy and keep you refreshed for the hours ahead.
Zen meditation is always different, it’s always a challenge and it probably never ends… Are you ready to try? ;)