Sat 8 Apr 2006
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For my second religious site visit, I chose to attend the Buddhist meditation session that Lars English conducts every Tuesday night. I went once last month and again this past week, and I am planning on going each week from now on. I found the sessions to be very interesting and thought provoking. Furthermore, the ideas/philosophies discussed during the sessions are extremely applicable to my life.
The first night I attended, I was very nervous. I anticipated a small group of students and or community members attending for a single long mediation sitting. When I first arrived, I was even more terrified to find two older community members and Lars. We exchanged greetings but then sat in a somewhat award silence to wait for anyone else to show up. I sat dreading the idea that I would be singled out or expected to talk. Eventually two other girls, who also had never attended arrived. This eased my nerves, although I still did not know what to expect.
Lars quickly put my mind to rest as he explained that we would begin by mediating on breathing for about twenty minutes, then have a short teaching and discussion, and conclude with another meditation. I was no longer nervous but I was beginning to think the 1.5 hour session would be long and boring.
Once again, I was wrong. I found the two meditation sessions to be very relaxing. Although I struggled to keep my focus, Lars assured us that the attempt was good enough. The meditation allowed me to clear my mind of all the stress that had been building on me that day and week. The teaching and the subsequent mediation that focused on the lesson of the day gave me a new perspective on life. The message was that all people are equal, should be treated equal, and we should not judge anyone in a negative or even positive way; instead, we should perceive everyone as neutral. Buddhists believe this idea of equanimity eliminates attachments and brings us closer to happiness and nirvana. Lars focused on relating the idea to contemporary times with real life examples that we could all relate to and thus I found the message useful.
The last several years of my life, I have lived without practicing religion. Participating in this class has made me want to take up religion again. Rather than fall back on my catholic upbringing, which as a child I saw as very strict and began forming my own contradicting beliefs, I find Buddhism appealing. The Buddhism approach my just be appealing now because I know so little about the beliefs. But for now I will continue to attend the mediation sessions, as I find the teachings to be quite useful and the mediation therapeutic.