Random Observation/Comment #77: Being a monk sounds horrifically painful. Let’s take all of someone’s possession away and force them with the most boring routine known to man. What would I do without my jeans? Excuse me while I console my wardrobe – my rogue thoughts have frightened them. (Those who know me, know I’m joking – partially)
“Excuse me, Mr. Monk – What did you do today?”
-The same thing I do every day, Pinky. Try to find inner peace.
“What does that involve?”
-Well, waking up at 4AM for two hours of meditation, tending to the garden of the temple, another two hours of meditation, tending to more housework and cleaning, another few hours of meditation, some dinner, and then sleeping early for the next day after a few more hours of meditation.
“Wow, I’m not gonna lie – that sucks.”
We woke up at 7AM to meet with a Buddhist monk. It was a humid 90 degrees out and he greeted us in a heavy, black, and layered monk outfit. I could see him sweat bullets just sitting there calmly and talking to us about his life and meditation. I respected him. He earned it with his stories, his stature, and his devotion. There was a part of me that wanted to go crazy and give up everything to become a monk. I thought about the dietary restrictions and changed my mind in a heartbeat. Sorry – it’s the same reason I’m not Jewish (although I am the honorary Jew for knowing all of the customs and attending all the Hillel meetings. I should just wear a kippa and grow those curly sideburns.) Taking away meat and seafood is like taking away happiness and laughter. What more would I have to live for? I guess I am not one of the chosen ones.
I’ve meditated before, but my style was quite different from that taught by this temple. I cleared my mind, but opened it to nature’s intervention. I thought beyond my own breathing and my own life to get this sense of unbelievable peacefulness. It would take a few minutes to start, but I usually don’t have the time to spend more than 10 minutes a day to reach this sensation of enlightenment. Plus, I absolutely detest that feeling of the blood rushing back into my legs and arms afterwards. The pins and needles are sometimes too much to bear. It’s just strange not having feelings of your limbs. If you’ve ever meditated, you know exactly what I mean.
The temple made the sound of an old man. The floors creaked and the heavy breathing of the monks let out a synchronized sigh. The old man sat in the park immersed in the beautiful nature around him. The chirping birds and *insert action for the sounds cicada makes*-ing cicadas sang kum-bai-ya. I’m sure I wasn’t drugged because I drank the concentrated tea after the meditation sessions and the tour. Maybe blocking out all those sounds made me even crazier.
The two claps and ring of the bell started the session. I sat in half-lotus position and held my hands under my belly button. Within 2 minutes, my feet lost its feeling. After 5 minutes, my whole leg was dead. I sat there with my back straight and my eyes closed. The only thing in my mind was the process of: inhaling through the nose for 5 seconds, holding it for 5 seconds, exhaling through the mouth for 5 seconds, and holding not having air for 3 seconds. I had to be aware of the process, but I wasn’t supposed to count.
My brain was cluttered with different unorganized emotions. I kept thinking about all the random things that my other senses picked up. I tried to recreate an image of the room by remembering how everything was placed before closing my eyes. I even turned my head and saw my perspective of the picture change. It felt like I was dreaming.
After the phase of testing my memory skills, I became curious at what other people were doing. I opened one eye and peeked around, trying to be as inconspicuous as possible. It reminded me of when I closed my eyes in the subway and looked around suspiciously to see if anyone else was sleeping or staring in my direction. This look is probably very cliché and completely overused by comedy directors.
After most of my entertainment was exhausted (which only took 2 minutes, max), I tried concentrating on the meditation again. In 3 minutes, I was transported onto a weird rollercoaster. My lungs filled with air and overdosed my brain with oxygen. There was a light-headed feeling going back and forth. This ride brought me through tunnels, over bridges, up and down valleys, across mountains, and beyond oceans. It felt fantastic, but I wish it didn’t make me so lethargic. I didn’t want to be rude and actually fall asleep while meditating. I pictured myself toppling over like a bowling pin and then getting up all embarrassed. I bet that would have happened if I kept using that crazy imagination of mine.
After the 15 minute session concluded, I got up and felt indescribable awkwardness. I guess it’s similar to the feeling of getting kicking in the balls really hard. It’s painful, but on a confusing level. Pins and needles can’t possibly be good for you. I felt individual cells dying all over my fingertips and toes – it wasn’t pleasant.
I was only sitting for 15 minutes in half lotus style, but my legs were completely numb – I wonder how long it takes for each body part to be completely cut off circulation and depleted of blood and oxygen. Either way, I don’t think your cells are too happy about it. I also wondered about the plot of “pins and needles intensity” vs “the amount of time spent meditating” vs “the amount of time it takes to recover.” Maybe to make it more generic, I should graph, time of cut-off circulation vs. time of recovery for every body part. And isn’t it weird that this type of test would vary between people with however- large a variable space, but yet be objective due to each person’s individual feelings towards the criteria being plotted? I feel I may have lost some people…
~See Lemons Meditate