Lifestyle & Culture

Fledgling Buddhist Seeks Downward-Facing Dog

August 4, 2019

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MEDITATION IS so in right now. That and yoga. And eating yogurt with probiotics for a healthy digestive tract. And suddenly it is very important to be mindful. Mindfulness is definitely in. Wanting to be in, and wanting to be mindful, yesterday I bought a magazine called Shambhala Sun and read it cover to cover, in the hopes that I might speed up my transformation to a more mindful, more digestively healthy self.

I felt at a slight disadvantage as I have no idea what shambhala means. Nevertheless I read an article called “A Meditation Instruction” by someone named Chogyam Trungpa, with those two little dots over the “o” in his name, and he made it all sound so simple. In a nutshell, you just breathe in and then breathe out, and pay attention to your breathing, and you’re doing it. That’s meditation. Oh, and you should be sitting down while you’re doing it, and do it every day at a specific time, for like 20 minutes. Fine, I can do that, I thought. How exciting—a whole new me is within my grasp just from breathing in and breathing out; who knew?

But the deeper I delved into this magazine, the more it seemed like any other magazine in that’s filled with advertising, in this case targeted for aspiring Buddhists. You can buy shrine materials. You can buy prayer beads and meditation cushions. (I believe those cushions are just like any cushions, but when you sit on them while meditating they become meditation cushions.) There were several ads for incense and bells and gongs, although those must come later because the article I read did not say one thing about a bell or a gong, or even a cushion for that matter. Chogyam made a point of saying sit anywhere, but sit up straight. Actually he said to “sit with the posture you would use if you were asking your lover to marry you,” which is odd since usually that’s on bended knee, but I digress.

There were ads for mindful psychotherapists, and who the heck would want any other kind? You can find Buddhist real estate brokers. There was an ad for Divine Buddhist jewelry that looked like normal jewelry but it had Indian writing on it and also little Buddha charms. There were many ads and coupons for meditation retreats and seminars and meetings and conventions, where I could pay handsomely to sit in a large group of people and engage in quiet self-reflection, which is somewhat confusing because the article I read said that all meditation is done alone. (I will have to re-read that article.)

The bottom line is that all of this will help me achieve Oneness With the Universe, something I desperately would like to experience for even five minutes before I die, since I always feel such Opposite of Oneness With the Universe.  Meditation can help me learn how to find joy in every breath! To seize the moment! To live life fully! In fact, Living Fully is a book that I can buy right now that will help me do that. I can find my soul mate and share my dharma, whatever that is, at dharmamatch, “where spiritual singles meet.” There is an ad for a Buddhist astrologer and another for a “focusing session” on the phone with a Zen priest who had eight years of training in Japan. There are so many new and exciting ways to spend money: Buddhist prayer flags, Dharma sculptures, guided meditation CDs.

Or I could just go sit in a dark corner in my living room and light a candle and breathe in and out for free. I’ve got half a mind to do that.

—Andrea Rouda

Andrea Rouda blogs at The Daily Droid

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