Are you experienced?

Dharma Zephyr Sangha

A Buddhist altar at Dharma Zephyr Sangha.

A Buddhist altar at Dharma Zephyr Sangha.

Photo By David Robert

I spend a lot of my time not knowing exactly what’s going on around me. I put myself in situations where I have no experience, and it’s the discomfort, the fear, that enervates me. But it’s the kind of thing where my ego can’t be real important because I’ll probably end up looking ignorant … I mean, stupid.

I made it to the Wednesday night group meditation at the Buddhist sangha at 626 Humboldt St., at the recommendation of my yoga teacher, Denise Barclay over at Yoga Loka. It’s a yellow building on the east side of Humboldt. The entrance is on the side. The practice begins at 7 p.m. and lasts until 9 p.m.

I was a bit early, so the signs directing participants downstairs weren’t laid out yet. That didn’t turn out to be a big problem as Renate, who was facilitating the meditation that night, met me as I was coming in.

The meditation took place in the basement, which apparently doubles as a yoga studio. There was low-pile, olive-colored carpet, creamy peach-colored walls and scattered bookshelves, which include such titles as The Science of Yoga, Focusing and The Stand. There was a Buddhist altar with drums at one end of the room, and in a corner opposite, a picture of the Dalai Lama. The walls were lined with handmade quilts. There were six people present.

Renate invited me to get a pad or a blanket to sit on for the meditation. I’d only “officially” meditated once before. I took a cushion, but I should have also grabbed a blanket because it gets slightly chilly there in the basement.

Before the meditation began, the group discussed plans for an all-day meditation, which will be held at the meeting hall on the corner of Summerset and Rivercrest drives in Verdi on April 28. Call Ruth Flack at 544-7411 if you want to get your soul on. It’ll be led by John M. Travis, who’s been a student of vipassana meditation since 1969. Meditation is a vital part of Buddhist practice. There are two principal approaches: vipassana and samatha. Put incredibly simply, vipassana is about being totally self-aware; samatha is about concentrating the mind on things other than the self.

The meditation lasted for 45 minutes. Renate “guided” for about the first 10 minutes, softly offering mind-expansive directions. Eventually, she faded out, and I just tracked my breath across the hairs in my nose. Yeah, I know, but that’s how it works.

The bell tolled three times. We picked up a book called Anger by Thich Nhat Hanh. Renate began the reading, and we each read five or six paragraphs before passing it on. It wasn’t about ridding ourselves of anger, but accepting anger as part of us without letting the emotion rule us.

I jotted down some of the things that were said: “Be careful of things we consume;” “don’t put forth conditions;” “it is wrong to think if the other person does not improve, then nothing improves;” “understand and accept the other person … use actions full of tenderness.”

Thich Nhat Hanh says there are three sentences that will help when we are having an angry moment with someone we love: “I’m angry; I suffer. I’m doing my best. Please help me.”

After the discussion, we had a 10-15 minute meta-meditation in which we sent out our good wishes to the world. And then the bell tolled thrice more.

I left the Dharma Zephyr Sangha feeling pretty peaceful, pretty mellow. It’s the kind of experience to which someone could get pretty accustomed.

Want to take Brian to church? Call 324-4440 3525.