“Bring cushion, blanket and vegetarian food to share,” were the instructions for yesterday’s meditation workshop at the Pierian Centre.
I have never known a pot luck not to work: my plate was filled with favourite foods such as raw beetroot and seaweed, butter bean salad, rice and lentil salad, raw carrot and hummus…
We practiced eating meditation. We ate in silence, aiming to chew each mouthful consciously, with 50 chews.
Eating silently and slowly in company was strangely relaxing.
I had helped promote this event with Saint Stephen’s and the Pierian Centre so it made sense to go.
But I had dreaded it. What? A whole day of meditation? I felt trapped.
Instead the day was rich and intense.
The workshop was led by Claude AnShin Thomas supported by KenShin.
(“How do I address you?” I had asked KenShin. “Ken – like Ken and Barbie – and shin as in leg,” she answered.)
Claude AnShin Thomas was a Vietnam veteran with post-traumatic stress – like many in the military or caught in war.
His spiritual practice helped him cope with flashbacks and emotional pain.
Meditation does not make horrifying experiences go away.
But being conscious, or awake, paradoxically makes trauma easier to cope with.
You learn to sit with discomforting feelings rather than self-medicate or distract yourself to push them away.
Claude AnShin Thomas is funny, straightforward, down-to-earth, profound and deeply touching.
A mendicant monk, he is homeless, goes wherever he can make a difference, and lives on donations.
He works for peace with the Zaltho Foundation by being as conscious as possible. “Everyone has their Vietnam,” he says.
I have marched for peace but peace activists can work for peace by healing the war inside, too.
I am reading his book, At Hell’s Gate. Beautifully written, so worth reading.
He’s not a new-age guru making money from spirituality, but a man with a troubled past who found his spiritual practice bought him peace, and who has dedicated his life to sharing this to help others.
And this real-ness transmits, I swear.