DP Week 8: Meditation and mental training

Buddhist monk meditating in Thailand. Image by Tevaprapas Makklay (Wikimedia Commons)

Buddhist monk meditating in Thailand. Image by Tevaprapas Makklay (Wikimedia Commons)

So this is the week I’ve been most dreading. While I have read some fascinating articles, including scholarly journals, about the way meditation can help alleviate depression and anxiety, I’ve never put that knowledge into practice. Despite having long been interested in Zen, I’m just not that good at sitting still and ‘doing nothing’, I always need to be doing some job or other around the house.

Yet this week’s assignment (which actually lasts for 23 weeks) will challenge me to do just that. I need to take up a regular (weekly if not daily) practice of meditation and mental discipline.

The course books make it clear that this is the basic practice on which later work builds, so it’s pretty important to give it a good shot.

According to Michael J. Dangler, there are several ways to do this requirement, from traditional meditation to daily devotional ritual and active meditation such as when doing physical exercise.

For the time being, I plan on doing five minutes of simple breathing meditation each morning before I go to work, in front of my Home Shrine which I established last week. If that doesn’t work out, I’ll experiment with some different forms as I go (and hopefully up the time as I go on too).

This week’s nature awareness was amply provided by a visit to the local County Fair, where I got to see traditional breeds of farm animals from the region as well as learn about local agriculture, and cuddle a baby goat who proceeded to try to eat my nose! It was an experience I won’t forget.

Baby goats (not the ones I hugged, but they look pretty similar). Image from Wikimedia Commons

Baby goats (not the ones I hugged, but they look pretty similar). Image from Wikimedia Commons