Wednesday, May 22, 2019

An Inspiring Memoir



Recently Marius, one of our regulars, sent me this lovely memoir of how he discovered meditation. I hope that you all find it as inspiring as I do!

    Chris.

A few month ago my wife and I discovered, by our good fortune, he Camas Meditation Group.  We now attend regularly every Sunday evening, and we love being there.

I would like to explain when, how and why I started meditation, quite unexpectedly, more than 30 years ago. I was at that time teaching Math at a Canadian College, meanwhile roaming local bookstores hoping to find what it was that I did not know I was looking for!

By sheer serendipity I came across a book, entitled “The Empty Mirror”. Somehow it intrigued me, but when I read up about the author, it became an immediate must read! It turned out to be written by a Dutch author, born about the same year and the same city I was born in, Rotterdam, the Netherlands! And like me, he too, lived through the war with all the horrors and suffering for 5 long years.

 In his book he writes about roaming around the world wondering and struggling with the questions I shared and most of us humans share as well. Who are we? Why are we here? And why all this suffering?  For myself I summed that up with the old movie song ‘What’s it all about, Alfie?’ Some of you may be too young to remember that movie, but for me it summed up just how I felt.
For this Dutch author, to find answers, he enrolled for a year in a Japanese Zen Buddhist temple as a lay monk! He relates the hard monastery life of meditation, but also relates in various ways many of the subtle teachings of the Buddhist Masters and the growing of his insight. I became fascinated with his story and the teachings. And I wished I could do what he did and learn what he learned.
Of course, I could not go to Kyoto myself, but here is the magic.

After finishing reading the book, I went out for a walk and the first thing I see is a notice attached to a tree in front of my home. It read:  The Lions Gate Buddhist Priory will be leading free meditation instruction this weekend. Time and location was most convenient for me, so, I went and I received instructions on how to meditate. It was easy, and I loved it immediately. That was my initiation to a new habit that I have come to value more and more as my life went along.
By reading the book I learned about the various Zen styles. There is Rinzai Zen, a very stern and forceful way, but also the Soto Zen, which works much better for Westerners. Other forms of meditation have evolved over time and may differ in different cultures. The outcome is the same; the benefits are!

I started meditating first in a small group in Edmonton, then I moved back to Vancouver B.C. where the Lion’s Gate Priory had a home and I attended regular Zazen each week. I sat with them for several years and was very happy to do so! But then, life’s circumstances made me move so that I could no longer attend the Lions’ Gate Zazen. I meditated on my own but soon got out of the habit. It is very powerful to meditate with a group at regular times. Why that is so, I do not know, but it is! I am very pleased to have discovered the Camas Meditation Group, where we can sit and have the benefit of sitting with others!

 It has brought a new and welcome opening to our lives!

       Marius.

The Book that changed my life:  The Empty Mirror.  Author:  Janwillem van de Wetering.
A sequel to this first book by the same author:  A Glimpse of Nothingness
Yes, the author is Dutch, but both books are in excellent English and easy to read!

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Meditation Cancelled February 10th 2019

Hi all, we are cancelling our meditation gathering the evening of Sunday February the 10th due to the icy weather. Please stay home and safe!

We will hopefully meet again next week on the 17th - however if the weather is still bad then please check back here.

   May you be well, happy and warm!

         Chris

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Meditation Holiday Schedule 2018

Hi all, note that we will not be meeting on the following Sundays:
  • December 23rd 2018
  • December 30th 2018
Also, if you do any other classes at Breathe please check as some classes are cancelled for those weekends.

We will be back to meditate in the New Year at 7pm Sunday January 6th, 2019!

Wishing you and your loved ones a happy, restful and joyous holiday season.

      Metta, Chris

Be kind to yourself this Holiday season

Kindness Starts With Yourself

We are once again in the holiday season, and that can mean different things to each of us. For some this is a wonderful time, full of friendship, fun and excitement. For others it can be a time of loneliness. For some the memories of past holidays can bring joy, for others pain.  For many of us, myself included, it is a mix of enjoyment and being overwhelmed. It can be a stressful time whether you love it or hate it.

I always find that I need to take a step back over the holidays and make sure that I am taking care of myself. It is so easy to get caught up in the excitement, stress, over-scheduling, loneliness and excesses. This is supposedly a time of 'goodwill to all men,' yet it is easy to end up feeling personally burned out or low.

When we practice metta - lovingkindness or goodwill - we always start with ourselves. Sometimes this is difficult, in that we understand that we need to love all beings - but loving ourself can be the hardest task of all. After all, we know all of our faults and flaws. And anyway, isn't it bad to be 'selfish?'

True metta for yourself is not selfish. You are a living being like all other beings. You know suffering and you wish to be free from that suffering. So just as I wish you to be free from that suffering you should wish it for yourself too.

So as we go through the holiday season practice being kind to yourself. That's not being selfish - selfishness leads us to over indulge and ignore others. That's not kindness. Kindness is caring for yourself.

In the meditation linked below we practice that kindness for ourselves. By being kind to ourselves we can generate a caring heart that radiates out to all beings.

Whatever the holidays mean to you I wish you to be well, happy, and free from suffering.


      



If the embedded audio player above doesn't work for you, please click here.




Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Happy Easter 2018

I've had a few people ask -- Yes, We are meeting this evening.

    Happy Easter and passover to you and your families,

        Chris