Alright – DAY 3
We are on our way to Kyoto where we will be visiting temples, learning how to meditate and then meeting our Host Family, where we will be staying for the evening.
We left our hotel in Tokyo bright and early to make our way to the Shinkansen. (Bullet Train)…. We arrived, with no tickets as we are a special group and had plenty of time to wander. As our guide and a small group of the team stayed with the luggage on the platform, a few of us went to get Starbucks. It was right outside the gate – no problem right? WRONG.
The line was medium sized, but we had time (or so we thought) so we stayed and waited for our turn. All of us now had our drinks in hand while the last member of our group had ordered something special….. The nice barista started packaging it very professionally as we tried to tell her that we had to go catch the train.
5 minutes to departure….. a text message reads, ” Hurry.”
2 minutes later…… another that read, “RUN”.
We sprinted, passing the gates as a security guard stared at us, yelling for our tickets. We ran so fast up stairs and around corners, just barely making it onto the train, slipping through the doors just a minute before it left.
PHEW… We made it… barely. The Shinkansen took us a few hours south west and into Kyoto where we then had a lovely lunch at a place that (surprisingly) Jackie and I had eaten at 4 years ago!
We then went directly to a small temple to learn the art of Zazen. We were given instructions in advance, but when we arrived and sat on the straw floor, our Zazen Master shared the history behind the temple and how to be fully immersed in the act of Zazen Meditation.
- Sit with your legs folded over one another with your bum on the small cushion and your legs on the straw floor
- Place your hands in a circle position – your thumbs touching (LIGHTLY) with your left hands fingers inside the right hand
- Focus on a spot on the floor with your eyes 1/2 closed (as to not fall asleep or let your mind wander)
- Stay in this position, breathing – counting IN: 1 ,2 , 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 and OUT: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10. – repeat this for 15 minutes x 2
What I realized from this exercise was that during the 1st session I was completely able to lose track of time. I saw the floor in front of me pulse in and out. Within, what seemed like 5 minutes, the session had ended with the sound of a chime.I felt calm, but also unaware if it had worked.
The next session, however, I was unable to focus. As is customary in Zazen Meditation, the Master walks around with a stick. When you bow to him – showing him that you have lost your focus and need his help – he gives you 4 massive, winding, smacks on our back. It is SO loud that at first I started to laugh and actually felt more distracted than I had before! I noticed as well that the time had passed way slower and my eyes were wandering…. I too had to get hit with the stick multiple times to refocus.
I guess it all takes practice. Maybe 15 minutes was enough for me on the first day, I don’t know for sure, but I know that it was an interesting experience, one that I will try to simulate again here in Canada. I definitely connect my Zen mindset post Japan to the meditation experience….. I have since, unfortunately, lost my Zen…….. but am currently trying to reconnect with the peace I felt in Japan.
Day 3 continues with my next stop being the “Homestay Experience” so I will cut off this post and continue it another day! Thanks for reading, I absolutely loved my time in Japan and just writing it out of my journal to share with you makes me re-live those moments!
Until next time!