For the past few years I’ve been doing Buddhist meditation. On Sunday mornings I meditate with a Theravada Buddhist community on the Upper West Side. There are lots of opportunities to meditate with groups in New York, or, of course, you can just find a comfortable position and meditate alone. So many people I speak to now are anxious and finding it difficult to concentrate. A meditation practice can help.
With the usual venues closed, there are now virtual meditation groups that you can Zoom into. The Marlene Meyerson Jewish Community Center on the Upper West Side in Manhattan has a great weekday meditation practice twice a day. Before this time of social isolation, I always intended to go, but often forgot. Now that it’s on Zoom, what’s my excuse? The Community Meditation Center, referenced above is also doing virtual meditation sessions.
I started joining the 7:30am Jewish Community Center sessions sessions last week. On Tuesday the session was led by Sheldon Lewis. It was wonderful. Before we dropped into silent meditation, Sheldon talked about darkness and light, referencing the 9th plague, the plague of darkness, and Passover. I won’t go into detail about Sheldon’s talk–you really had to be there. Meditating is a way to quiet the chatter in your mind, turning off the endless loops of regret, planning, anxiety, etc.–all those thoughts that can occupy our brains to the exclusion of everything else. We don’t want those thoughts to drive us nuts, but we don’t know how to turn them off. Maybe we don’t know that we can turn them off if we work at it. Meditation helps. Along those lines, I wanted to recommend three excellent books about Buddhism if you’re curious. It’s a good time to learn how to decompress.
Seeking the Heart of Wisdom: The Path of Insight Meditation by Joseph Goldstein and Jack Kornfeld. Shambhala Press.
Untangling Self: A Buddhist Investigation of Who We Really Are by Andrew Olendzki. Wisdom Publications.
The Magnanimous Heart: Compassion and Love, Loss and Grief, Joy and Liberation by Narayan Helen Liebenson