#288 My experience with Oakville Zen by Cathy 28/Sept 19

MY EXPERIENCE WITH OAKVILLE ZEN MEDITATION – THE LAST FIVE YEARS

In the autumn of 2012, I took a MBSR course with a local psychiatrist, where I was taught meditation.

I started practicing diligently, as though my life depended on it…which in many ways, it did.

I followed the advice I was given very precisely, and nurtured this new practice with care and did not waste energy advertising meditation and its benefits , not even to my adult children.

After that course, I searched for almost 2 years for some support as meditating alone gets pretty lonesome at times.

As luck would have it, a friend mentioned   Arnaud’s classes.  Relieved, I immediately joined  Oakville Zen Meditation  in November 2014.

In those early days, Arnaud and Catherine very generously opened their home and their hearts to struggling souls, like myself, 5-6 times a week….even providing hot tea at the end of the sessions as per Zen tradition,.

There was always a short walking meditation between the 2 sittings, in the huge basement where the classes were held.

There were also silent mini retreats with breaks walking outdoors in the lush, peaceful garden that Catherine and Arnaud tended so lovingly.,through all these times, the energy in the group was palpable.

In the past 5 years, many newbies, have come and gone…..artists, musicians, people covered in tattoos, and other body decorations….want to be meditators come from all walks of life, after all.

As members of Oakville Zen we certainly have had our share of “Full Catastrophe Living”, as Jon Kabat Zinn , the founder of the Stress Reduction Clinic at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center calls it:

Illnesses of every description including cancer, heart attacks, bypass surgery, depression , anxiety

Change of employment

Loss of home

A wedding

3 years ago, the first Zen baby – Enzo

Death of elderly parents

Death of a brother, too young

And marriage break-ups..

Loss of much loved pets

Last December, Lorna,

 one of the oldest members of our group died from ALS, Lou Gehrig’s disease,  after much intense suffering.     Full Catastrophe Living indeed!

Why do I keep coming back?

Belongingness

Maybe because, I, like everyone on earth, have a basic emotional need to belong to a group, a class, a club, ……a desire to be an important part of something greater than myself.

Maybe because Arnaud helped me in my darkest struggles during my family’s health crisis.

Maybe because group meditation is SO SO very powerful!

Maybe because I need to learn

-more optimism

-more gratitude

-more perspective taking

-more kindness for myself and others

Why do I meditate?

The real reasons I meditate is that life is hard, and I need tools to help me navigate what life throws my way…

everything is impermanent, so I need to remind myself that when things are bad, it will not last, when things are good, that, too, will not last.

I meditate to remind myself that the ordinary is really EXTRA ORDINARY, and that it can be taken from me in an instant.

I meditate so I can sometimes catch myself, when I mindlessly criticize a family member and see hurt feelings cross his or her face.

I meditate to improve my relationships—with myself and my loved ones.

In conclusion, meditation is an ongoing practice that I choose to stay committed to and use to gain some serenity ,some clarity and some , peace of mind in this everchanging world.