When I first wanted to establish a meditation practice, I thought a Cornell PE class would be a great way to learn. Last semester, Introduction to Meditation did not fit my schedule, so I took the “Meditation and Relaxation”.The class met once a week, on Tuesday evenings, for about two hours. In retrospect, I’m surprised I didn’t see why it was a bad idea. Every prelim for my CS and Math classes was on a Tuesday. And getting to Teagle Hall took a long, twenty minute walk through wintry Cornell. After three weeks, I stopped going to the class.
Although I received a grade of “Unsatisfactory” on “Meditation and Relaxation”, I still did want to establish a meditation practice. So when Intro to Meditation fit in my schedule this semester, I added it. The class meets for 50 minutes, twice a week. It has only been one week so far, but I know that this is the right class for what I want to learn.
On the first day of class, we talked about what meditation meant to each of us, individually. My response in class was somewhat incoherent. I often find myself being anxious about little things I have no control over. Mostly, these thoughts are repetitive. Maybe I have to print something for my Spanish class but my printer is malfunctioning; I decide to go to the library early next morning and print it before class. But it doesn’t end there, I’m not even fully aware of how many times the thought of printing my homework crosses my mind after that. Supposedly, on an average, a person has 60,000 thoughts per day and over 90% of them are exactly the same. (I haven’t found the study which proves this, but it sounds believable to me.) I want to have power over the way I think and feel and that is my motivation to meditate.
Then we read a list of twenty quotes on meditation. Each person chose what resonated most with themselves and meditated on it for ten minutes. There were some fantastic quotes on that sheet, but I chose something simple which gave me an action to do – focus on my breath – while meditating.
Breathing in, I calm my body.
Breathing out, I smile. - Thích Nhất Hạnh
I had my second class today. After a few yoga poses, we tried two introductory meditation techniques which focused on breathing. I like what was called “counting meditation”. You focus on and count each complete breath you take, but as soon as your thoughts stray, you must start from zero again. If I am honest with myself, even ten is a difficult target right now. It’s also funny that my stray thoughts are about how I’ll brag when I’ll be better at meditation.
At the end of the class, everyone received a personal journal to write in. My journal entry prompted me to write this blog post. The reflections in my journal seem to be the most enjoyable part of this class for me. It’ll be interesting to read it at the end of the semester.
Introduction to Meditation is offered by Cornell PE.
And there is also a free, mindfulness meditation series on campus on weekdays.
I loved Robin Sharma’s – ”The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari”.