If variety is truly the spice of life then my friends would be the garden blend with a dash and a half of chili powder thrown in for good measure.
My friend Monica is very much into the whole New Age movement. She is vegetarian, wears her hair shorn to a quarter of an inch long, and has been known to disappear into the Arizona woods with her dog and a tent for weeks at a time. Over the weekend she and I met at an Alternative Health Center for the Fire, Water, & Gong Meditation. I thought, what the heck. It's different any ways. The picture to the right is the fire and water portion. Each person had to take a candle from the center and meditate on it. Then the water bottles were to be concentrated on while thinking of compassion. We had 15 minutes to do this until a guy named James struck the gong signifying the end.
People sat around this circle on yoga mats. They sat in the 'lotus' position with their palms up. I sat Indian style and had a hard time keeping my leg from falling asleep. Apparently I was the only one where I was most likely surrounded by seasoned professionals.
I would like to add that I don't so much as even read my horoscope. I've heard of these things but this was the first time I had ever been to one. Monica is very spiritual in an unconventional way. Last year on my birthday she gave me a book called The Teachings of Abraham. I was thinking it had something to do with the Old Testament of the Bible. Silly me. It was about invoking your spirit guide. Um, well, let's just say it's still underneath the end table.
After 15 minutes James hits the gong and everyone blows out their candles. Mine tips over and spills wax all over the tile. Everyone lays back on their mats with their palms up, thus beginning the 'gong' portion of the meditation. I honestly did not know what I was getting myself into. Basically I layed in a darkened room while a giant Chinese gong was hit over and over again. It reverberated throughout the small room until I could feel it in my finger tips. It had a haunting sound that at first made me feel uneasy. Then I must have drifted into some strange dream state. I felt like I was under a purple ocean looking up as waves of sound crashed over me. I could see lines of color going by. Then amazingly enough I started to dream I was at home and that I was yelling at Ruben to turn the TV down. That was pretty funny.
Personally though I could think of much better ways to spend meditating than to a giant gong for 45 minutes. I once saw a cartoon where a cat (Tom from Tom & Jerry fame?) ran into a bell while chasing a mouse (Jerry?). The wise little mouse rings the bell and the cat is left vibrating down the street. That is exactly how I felt. I literally had my bell rung! (pun intended) It was like trying to get a good night's sleep in a bell tower with a sadistic monk constantly ringing the darn bell every 10 seconds. After 45 minutes of this we were through. Monica and I emerged into the bright Phoenix sunlight. She asked me how I felt. My head was killing me! A day later and it still is. Monica said that it was because it cleansed me of my toxic energy. Toxic energy? I guess it was suppose to balance my Chaka Khan or my chakras, or whatever it is kids are calling it these days. But it seems pretty obvious to me, energy or no energy, if you sit in a room with someone banging on a Chinese gong for 45 minutes, you will undoubtedly get a headache. My Mother could have told me that. Maybe I should have called her before leaving the house. She would have talked some sense into me. My headache was so bad last night that I actually ended up leaving a BBQ Ruben and I were at, and coming home to get sick.
I think my days of guided meditation are over –at least the portions that involve large noisy instruments. I don't mess with Monica's Buddha and she doesn't mess with my Jesus, but I'm glad though that I know her and that she is constantly exposing me to new trains of thought. We have a mutual respect of each other's views. My house must look like a shrine of sorts with my religious statues and collections of Mexican Catholic folk art. Although I'm hardly the type to stand outside the state house wielding my rosary beads. My house is a shrine and my car is a private place of prayer.
Albeit a quiet place of prayer! 😉