Monday, May 30th
Almost the end of the year and everyone arrived on time. No problems, no sudden prior engagements, all of them came and appeared on their cushions.
I reviewed what we’d discussed the week before: about deepening our experience, widening our memory, by recalling an incident by what we saw, what we heard, and finally what we’d sensed.
To be present in the moment we need to note input from each of these channels of reception. The more we pay attention to the details we receive, the stronger the experience.
Memory is built of strong experiences, don’t you think? The moments we recall best are those when most of our antennae are attuned. Me? I recall the time I was appearing in a Narnia play and I surprised myself by my total immersion into the part with an in-breath and then a huge exhale as I arose, voicing my line. I recall the physical sensation, the sound of my voice and, a sudden awareness of the rapt attention of the audience! This moment, infused with colours, is something I’ll always remember.
Using our vision: to see something of that event, the colours, the people, the sky.
Using our aural memory: to hear the sounds, machinery, music, voices.
Our sense of kinesthetics: to recall the temperature, the smells, the touch of fabric on our skin, the wind in our hair.
“Yes, good,” said one of the girls, “but what are those scarves you have there hidden in the bag?”
Ah, yes, I said. The scarf exercise.
I’d brought some Indian scarves of different colours.
I instructed them to get into groups of 3 or 2. Each group was to select a scarf. Then they were to work together to create a saying or an exercise using the scarf as a tool.
They got it and started on their exercise/saying.
When they were ready, they shared with the group.
Group one was comprised of two groups. They decided to enact a wedding ceremony using the white scarf. The groom magically transformed into a week-old son, who underwent a circumcision with the use of a tool in the room. (Who said pliers are useless for meditation class?)
Another group illustrated a conversation between the Jr High Principal and the Security officer of the school, during which he revealed that he was at the beach enjoying the Mediterranean waves, the chartreuse scarf his beach umbrella. He was promptly returned to duty.
The third group illustrated endless uses of a scarf and concluded that an object is what you make of it, it can be anything you choose if you let yourself explore your creativity.
Suddenly we had new members join us, just in time for the discussion.
I asked: What do you remember about the skits?
We remember that it was fun.
(Note to self: I will ask them the same question next week to see if they are able to activate their visual, aural and kinesthetic faculties to click into their memory)
And now, how should we end our Semester of the Language of Attentiveness?
It was time to gather our forces to decide how to celebrate the end of the year. Suddenly, those who had trouble meditating, rallied to the frontlines. Minds were fully turned on.
Organization: We will eat! Who will bring what? Pizza from the best place in the neighbourhood? Cakes? Burekas? Juice?
A showed that she was still very much a person of action: She made a list and occasionally looked to me for approval.
When things were more or less settled, we pulled out the mats and allowed ourselves to relax with a body scan.
With the sound of the Tibetan Bowl, we allowed ourselves to notice our physical selves, on the mat, on the pouf, on the floor. We scanned bit by bit from heels and toes up to our the hair on our heads, and then with some full body breaths, we checked to see if we noticed a difference in our sensations, if we wanted to give ourselves a little more attention. If so, we placed our hands on the spot and breathed into that area.
After a few minutes, we rolled onto our sides and then slowly sat up.
Reminder: When required, we only need to recall this state of relaxation. If we need to disconnect from over-stimulation, our body can return to this feeling, it’s ours for the taking.
Slowly, they arose, put on their shoes and left the room.
For me: how to reel in their well-practiced habits of setting up a party into the context of mindfulness. Clearly, nothing heavy, but a taste to whet their appetite for further practice. I have an iconic idea using their ‘hands’ from the first meeting and a connection with the present moment.
Short and sweet.