Today, we went to a meditation retreat. Meditation isn’t just closing your eyes and sitting cross-legged; it’s a lot more than that. In Asia, meditating was widely spread through Buddhism. However, Buddhism taught one kind of meditation, when many other types exist. Meditation is a hard word to define, and I still don’t exactly have a definition for it. It can be anything from making prayers and chanting to being mindful about what you do. The meditation retreat was less about doing meditation and more about how to meditate and what Buddhism is.

Buddhism isn’t a religion because it doesn’t have a god, though it does have a few beliefs. Buddhism is more like a philosophy or a way of life, because you can be Buddhist and any other religion. It would be almost impossible to be 2 religions, but, because Buddhism isn’t a religion, you can combine it with almost any other religion. The Buddha isn’t a god; he was a normal person like all of us.

There are two types of meditation: formal and informal. Formal is more like sitting cross-legged on the ground, while informal is like meditating on an airplane or while driving. You don’t need a quiet space to do meditation, though for beginners it is a lot easier.

One Buddhist way of meditation is focusing on our breathing and not anything else. The goal of this meditation is not to not feel or focus on anything–you just don’t want to dwell on it. You want to acknowledge that it’s there, but not dwell on it. The goal of meditation is to stop suffering. You get to control your own level of suffering. If you’re in Russia, and you love someone in Spain but the person in Spain doesn’t love you, you’re the one suffering because you miss her while the person in Spain is living a normal life (don’t ask me how a person in Spain and a person in Russia met, it’s just an example).

At the meditation retreat, we practiced 3 types of meditation: sitting, walking, and dynamic. Sitting is sitting in cross-legged position, half lotus position, or full lotus position. Walking is walking slowly and mindfully, because in your ordinary life you don’t think about how or what you’re doing to walk, you’re just caring about the outcome: you move forward. Dynamic is focusing on the moving of your arms and hands. You are supposed to feel pain after a while of sitting upright, but you have to bring yourself back to breathing again. I felt calm and relaxed, but at the same time I was full of tension. As you become more advanced you get more familiar with the pain.

The dynamic meditation was very difficult. Well, the first one was easy. The first dynamic meditation was moving your arms to your chest, tummy, knees, and upwards. But the second one was difficult. You first used your right hand to point at a zero (your fist), and then you switched. You used your left hand to point at your right hand which was the number 1. Then you used your right hand to point at your left hand which showed the number 2. You did that until you got to 5. I had a great time even though I had to go through a bit of pain, but I knew that was going to happen.

Below: Meditation related pictures (original artwork by Jasper)



Below: Dynamic Meditation (original artwork by Jasper)