To prepare for my trip to Thailand, I read a few books on Buddhism. I didn’t retain much of that knowledge I gained from the books except a few key concepts: Peace, Happiness, Kindness, and Meditation. I love the ideas of always being peaceful and kind while projecting it out to the world. One of my main goals for my adventure in Thailand is to find complete happiness. Oh don’t get me wrong I was perfectly happy before. I have a great family, an amazing boyfriend, and the best friends in the world. I came here to find who I am. I came here to discover that place within myself that is a constant bright light of happiness and I believe that this can be found through meditation. Since I was probably five years old, my dad has told me to meditate. See yourself getting the winning hit or achieving A’s and his advice always centered around visualizing myself being successful. Well, now I want to change the focus of my meditation. I want to focus on myself and just being within my own self. I want to focus on the amazing people I have in my life who have helped me along the way. I want to focus on happiness and peace so that I can bring happiness and peace to others.
Looking through my Thailand guidebook, I found a temple, Wat Mahathat, in Bangkok that offered instruction in English to those that want to learn to meditate properly. My friend Sean and I thought this would be a great experience so we went on the search for this temple. After wandering around the temple grounds for who knows how long we finally found the place (a couple also joined us along the way) and met an extremely nice man who spoke perfect english. He then explained to us (for two hours or so, little long if you ask me, but we were waiting for a meditation class to finish) about meditation and we asked as many questions as we could think of. My main question was: What do you focus on when you’re meditating and what do you do when other thoughts pop in your head? He answered that the focus of meditation is the body. When other thoughts pop into your head, you need to ackowledge them, maybe play around with them for a minute or so, and then push them to the side (later when we were actually meditating I tried to push other thoughts out right away and I guess thats the wrong thing to do). If your body is hurting, change your focus to that area for however long you need it there and then push it away, and in turn that pain will be whisked away with those thoughts.
We began our meditation practice with walking meditation, which is extremely hard. You have to slowly pick your foot up, slowly move it in front of the other one, put it down, and repeat. You must only think of your feet during this process. We did this for about 30 minutes and of course numerous topics were pouring into my head and I have no idea how they got there. Somehow I moved from Chinese Buffets, to the World Series, to wondering what I was going to write in my blog about my meditating experience. Trying to get those thoughts out of your head is extremely tough. If I had gone awhile just focusing on my feet, I would realize it, congratulate myself, and all of a sudden i was completely off of my feet again. I wish I had a taping of my thought processes during this meditation. By the end, I had had a few good spurts of complete focus and I feel that after awhile I will be able to do that for the full time.
Next was the sitting meditation. Leeeeeetle bit harder than the walking one, although you have your eyes closed so at least that sense is dulled. You have to sit in the most uncomfortable position with your back completely straight. Not easy when I still have a herniated disk in my lower back! We only sat for 6 minutes but it felt like a lifetime. My hips, back, shoulders, you name it, it was aching. I was determined not to give up or fall out of my posture. Of course during the meditation countless topics once again leaped into my mind. I told myself that when I made it through I would be so proud of myself. And of course I’m telling myself that when I’m supposed to be concentrating on my breathing and trying not to concentrate on my hips that feel like they’re going to dislocate. Well I made it through those gruesome six minutes and yes I was proud of myself, but it made me determined to practice so that I could meditate for longer. It was such a peaceful experience just focusing on only myself for once.
My goal is to meditate for 5-10 minutes everyday for starters then I can increase the time. Maybe living by the beach will help that :).