Sunday, September 21, 2008

Week in Review

This was one of those good news, bad news weeks for continuing education.

In my Monday evening flower-arranging class, we learned a technique called hand weaving, a useful way to create an arrangement that holds together in a vase. (I practiced again later in the week, and it really does work.)

On the other hand, my Thursday evening chocolate confections class through Lawrence Township Community Education was canceled because of low enrollment. Really? It's a class about chocolate!

Oh, well. I no longer care, because on Saturday I attended a stress-relief meditation workshop at the Dromtonpa Buddhist Center in Fountain Square. The center isn't much to look at: You enter via the side door of an old house and climb some narrow stairs to the meeting rooms. To the right is the center's gift shop and reception area, and to the left is the meditation room (fully furnished with chairs, in case you were wondering).

This was my first meditation experience and my first up-close encounter with Buddhism, so I made the mistake of wearing my shoes into the meditation room. But, no worries! As soon as I noticed the many bare feet around me, I slipped out, took off my shoes and came back in -- no harm done (I hope).

The center's resident teacher, Alexis Salaman, started by leading us through a relaxation meditation, which I actually found to be bizarrely uncomfortable. (I'm still working on a theory to explain that.) Afterward, Salaman discussed the cause of stress (our reactions to external events) and the way to avoid stress (changing our reactions). Finally, she led us through a meditation in which we committed to changing our reactions (no physical discomfort this time).

Despite my initial, unexplained reaction to the meditation, I left the center feeling as relaxed as I usually feel after a full-body massage. For several hours, I was committed to being free of stress and generous of spirit. But, you know, that was yesterday.

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