I recently attended The Innovation Network's (TIN) Virtual Zen Meditation fundraising via Zoom. I had limited knowledge of meditation, but Zen Master Kosho, a meditation expert, gave me a newfound appreciation for meditation's importance.
TIN Officers Maeve Maguire and Jeanette Falotico began the meeting by discussing the butterfly garden and the Virtual Wellness Series, designed to improve mental health during the pandemic. According to a Brookdale psychology professor and counselor, a disproportionate number of students were in crisis mode and needed counseling immediately. This inspired TIN to incorporate a mental health aspect into the butterfly garden.
Then, Zen Master Kosho discussed Buddhism's history. Around 550 years before Christ, a man who was like a prince because he came from a noble family decided to leave his family and country to go alone in the forest and discover enlightenment. He turned to meditation to save himself from suffering. While sitting in meditation, he discovered what he called an awakening. He came back home, and people noticed he was happier and less depressed. After people asked him what he practiced, he told them he practiced Dhyana. The word Dhyana in Buddhism means absorption, and the word Zen means sitting.
When we practice meditation, that means we are sitting in absorption.
Even when people pronounce these words differently, they refer to the same initial experience of the prince.
Buddhism meditation is linked to transmission. Zen Master Kosho is the eighty-fourth successor of the Buddhism meditation practice. He allowed us to get absorbed and practice many meditation exercises.
One exercise was called the gassho, which means "two hands coming together". It is formed by placing the hands or palms together in the "prayer" or "praying hands" pose. Zen Master Kosho said this was something we could do in the morning, before work, or watching television. We could use it to excuse ourselves or say thank you. We could bow before sitting down to do this exercise.
The next exercise for Zazen meditation involved a pillow or chair. We had to erect our spines vertically and make our knees touch the ground.
Another exercise involved the three R's: Recognize, Rest, and Reconnect. These words helped us regain focus after our minds wandered. For instance, if we were distraught because someone at work had mistreated us, we needed to recognize that we were mistreated, rest and let it go, and reconnect with meditation. This feeling of unease was not about the other person but us.
Overall, I enjoyed this event. As a busy college student, I often feel stressed and anxious about fulfilling my obligations. I was also hesitant to try meditation practices because I am not flexible and have difficulty staying focused when I am stressed. However, Zen Master Kosho encouraged us to stay focused and persist at meditation and breathing exercises, even if we were beginners.
The important part of meditation was focus and calm, not perfection. I learned how to incorporate meditation into my hectic schedule by making a little time for it every day.
Zen Master Kosho also taught us to embrace life's contradictions. Instead of resisting change, people should be open to it because it can lead to new opportunities. This philosophy will help people develop resilience in the face of adversity.
As Ariana Grande sings in her 2018 song "Breathin," you need to "just keep breathin' and breathin' and breathin' and breathin," which meditation will help you do. You need to keep breathing and persevere when life throws obstacles in your way.