Tonight I went to my very first meditation "class" at my local Buddhist Vihara. I use the term loosely. I thought that a "class" would instruct people on how to meditate, but it was more like a meeting for people who already know how. An interesting and new experience, but I will have to find another group or read up on my own in order to know what to do in the future.
I arrived seven minutes late and everyone was already sitting against each wall with their legs crossed and their eyes closed. I found an unoccupied place and sat down on the pillow stationed there. I crossed my legs and closed my eyes. I waited for the instruction to begin, but it never did. In the next 50 minutes, there were only four sentences spoken, by the monk: "Mindfully breathe in... mmm. Mindfully breathe out... mmm." "Mindfully breathe in... mmm. Mindfully breathe out... mmm." When I say four sentences, I mean that literally. He said it every half hour or something. I got all excited that he was actually speaking, but that was all he said.
I wasn't sure if I was supposed to be thinking about something in particular, or not think about anything at all. I wound up thinking about who was going to get kicked off of American Idol and how much I was craving a cheeseburger. It's not like I didn't try, but it was hard. I heard a stomach growling to my left and I'm pretty sure I heard a snore to my right, but whatever. I also lost the blood flow and feeling in my legs. I really wanted to keep my eyes open and look at the beautiful statues in the front of the room. There was a gigantic Buddha, and some little ones, and fresh flowers all in front. I sneaked a peek, which was perfectly fine since everyone else had their eyes closed, but then one woman opened her eyes for a second and noticed me. I snapped my eyes shut. (It was reminiscent of childhood prayers at dinner: "Mom, Sister has her eyes open!" "How would you know unless yours were open too??")
After an hour, the monk began reciting blessings for pretty much everyone on the planet. He said things like, "May I be free from harm. May I attain peace and happiness through nirvana." He had a whole list, and he went through it for "I," "my parents," "friends," "family members," "relatives," "unfriendly beings," and "we." Then the next hour was spent reading and discussing dharma. It actually got pretty interesting as they discussed reincarnation and death. I was riveted. But after two hours I realized that people would be looking for me and that I needed to get out of there. Some people stopped me at the door where we were all putting our shoes back on, and told me that there is another class at another place that is more instructional for beginners.
It was quite funny, actually; I didn't tell Mother I was going because, as I told Sister, "She'd probably worry that I'll bring home demons or something," to which she replied, "Hopefully they'll stay in the basement with you." (LMAO I love that kid.) Then when I got home and told Fellow Seeker I went to a meditation meeting, he asked me right away, "Did you see any demons?" (We have similar denominational backgrounds and we know the drill on unfamiliar things equaling pure evil.)