On Saturday evening, with time to spare before the ceilidh, I sat under a sign saying Meaningful Conversation. I had little, though we established that Meaningful Conversation must have meaning for all the conversationalists. The woman invited me to worship in a small tent in the Dharma Parlour. Here we chanted a simple mantra for half an hour. Chanting links us to the Power and its gifts. Oh, OK.
Sitting comfortably is difficult for me. I need to stretch my thighs, to kneel in postures which seem so natural in others. That is on my mind. And- the sound of the singing bowl, and its shape, are beautiful.
Worship should be beautiful. Worship should feed souls. Contact with others, shared experience practice and aims, are all lovely, and the sound of the bowl adds to that.
There are seven of us, with a worship leader aware that some of us are campers, and do not do this “in real life” as we dismissively say. Or I am projecting. We chant, we hear the bowl, we open ourselves to Higher Things, and we kneel or sit in silence for a time, after.
Sunday morning, I did the “awareness of breathing for beginners” session. I did not do the “Metta for beginners” session. First, we count breaths: in, out, 1. In, out, 2. So on, to ten, then back to one. We do this for seven minutes.
Continuing, we count breaths: 1, in, out. 2, in, out. So on to ten, then back to one. We do this for seven minutes. Third, we are aware of the sensation of the breath. We do this for seven minutes. Fourth, we are aware of the breath in the nostrils and the tip of the nose. We do this for seven minutes.
The seven minutes could be ten, or shorter, or longer. Two minutes would be too short. The counting is to give the conscious mind something to do: if we lose track, or think of something else, we go back to one. Sometimes people forget to go back to one after ten: “The record is 32”. If you do this, go back to one. If in the third or fourth sessions you find your attention drifting, it may help to count breaths for a minute. Breathing may become shallow or deep: notice it, do not force it. Breathing happens, all the time, mostly without being noticed (though I notice it now, as I write of it)
It makes us still, and away from the conscious mind. This has advantages, I understand, in clarity of thinking, reducing worrying and ruminating (going round in circles). It is a practice I could adopt, easily, at home.
I had to go to the loo at 3am. I walked through the dark silent campsite in pyjamas, loving the brightness of the stars and the Milky Way: with light pollution, and clouds, I have rarely been aware of it before.
Questions for sharing in workshops:
-What is Peace?
-What are you sensing, right now?
-Can you get closer to the sensation?
At 11, as I am going to bed, I find a group playing. I join them, and play their keyboard.