That was a busy weekend.
Saturday morning we ran a few errands, including picking up a collection of broken concrete from out front of a vacant building near work. I'd spotted them during the week and noticed they'd make perfect stepping stones for the side garden, being a couple of inches thick, flat on top and of a darker, rock-like shade of concrete. I had thought we'd only get maybe half a dozen of a decent size and shape, but by the time i'd loaded up the 'near enough' and 'maybe' chunks, there were enough to almost do the whole path. Some have raised bits of gravel on the edge, which i'll have to chip off with a hammer, while some are definitely on the small end of useful, but they can be replaced later if i find better ones. I've already laid them out and put five in the ground in the morning before leaving for work, and it's going to look great.
Saturday afternoon was taekwondo, which i had to do dagging around in a t-shirt as i'd missed packing my dobok jacket before leaving home. Ah well, at least i packed the pants. Saturday class is always a good session. It's a pity i've missed so many lately. In the mixed class i got to teach a pair of white belts for a change, though one was an ITF black belt who's visiting us for a while, so i spent much of the time trying to blend explanations of how we do things aimed at his level with those that would be useful for a new beginner. His school must be quite formal, as he kept calling me 'sir', which felt a bit odd (especially without my
status symbols props security blanket
belt and uniform) but i didn't say anything, as it's not really anything 'wrong' to correct. After fitness circuit (mmm, sweat), black belt class consisted mostly of poomsae and self defence work, the latter of which i paired up with Clive, who was helpfully non co-operative and made me work hard. It's always satisfying to walk out with sore muscles, red wrists and sweaty hair.
I also found out that Jessica is leaving for Canada for the rest of the year, only because they had a card for us all to sign. I really should pay more attention.
Sunday morning was the last of the meditation classes in at Box Hill. After running late last week, i decided to leave home early in case the trains were diverted again, which of course meant that they were running normally and i got there way too early. That wasn't a bad thing, as i got to spend some time sitting in the shrine room soaking up the atmosphere. Remembering what Lillian had said after the first class, i sat looking at the main Buddha statue for a while, not really meditating but just watching my breathing a little and listening to the music they had playing (one of those flowery Namo Guan Shi Yin Pu Sa recordings). It was interesting to notice the way my eyes got lazy after a while and the focus softened, making the statue seem very 3D. Of course it is
3D, being a statue and all, but it really seemed to stand out in an interesting way against the similar gold/beige hued background, with the soft light and incense smoke adding to the effect.
As the families started coming in for the children's session, i got up and went down the street to the meditation room. Lillian had already set everything up, though it was still quite early, so the teacher suggested i sit for a while and do some meditation for myself. Once the rest of the class arrived, we went through some t'ai chi to warm up before doing some more sitting. This teacher did a similar set of exercises to what we had done wth Rev. Man Ching, though i noticed a few things she did differently, eg in 'painting a rainbow', the leading foot is turned in the direction you are leaning, while the opposite hand bends in as if patting yourself on the head, which seemed much easier on the back. She also added in an extra buit to the face massage - taking two fingers and 'brushing your teeth' by rubbing them over the teeth from outside, above and below the lips, and also rubbing the ears with two fingers, which she said is a good way to wake yourself up when tired.
We sat for about 30 minutes with an instrumental version of the Om Mani Padme Hum music playing, then a few minutes more in silence. This week it was much easier to concentrate, without the agitation of rushing and also managing not to try to control my breath to match the music (left to its own devices, it blended in of its own accord again). The teacher had suggested we watch our emotions this time, to see how various thoughts, sounds or sensations make us feel. The only real feelings i noticed were those of peace and tranquility with the music and stillness after it finished. Other sounds and sensations, even stray thoughts, didn't seem to have emotional effect on me. I suspect that was due to fact i was watching for it, in a similar way to how i've noticed my mind doesn't run away on a train of thought when i'm actively watching to see where it runs. (I guess this is what people mean when they say that a finger can't point at itself).
Then we revisited the tea ceremony, this time trying two different kinds of tea for comparison. Again she asked us to pay attention to how we feel. The first was the dragon ball tea again, the smell of which gave me a feeling of freshness and nature, while a second, stronger smelling leaf i could only describe as smelling 'darker'. It did remind me a bit of the oolong tea i'd had at the tea rooms when i was in the city, which one of the Chinese guys in the class identified it as. When the tea was made, we again watched how we felt as we tasted them. The dragon ball tea left me with feelings of lightness and freshness, while the oolong gave a warm feeling, from a vaguely spicy aftertaste (which we later learned was ginseng, which explained why it made me think of Korea). Over a few more cups, the teacher talked to us for a while about putting aside feelings of like and dislike, building equanimity and extending meditation to everything we do in daily life. Now that it's five days later (Friday now) as i'm still writing this, i can't remember a lot of what she said, other than noticing that there was a lot more Buddhism in the lessons from the lay teacher than from the Reverend. We finished by reciting the Four Mottoes from last week again (a very Mahayana dedication of merit and well-wishing for all beings) and there was talk of another course, perhaps a little more advanced, sometime in the future. So that will be good if it goes ahead.
After class, Elaine picked me up on the way through to the city, to spend the afternoon at blind_sublime
's place, to hang out and also do some filming for an assignment for Elaine's uni course. Ange was the cameraperson (and did a fine job of it too), while i got to play a client who Elaine was teaching to cross the road with the walk lights. It was good to catch up, and the filming was fun for the most part (with some funny looks from the folks outside the old age centre across the road) but frustrating when Elaine's camera decided to delete the wrong clips when we needed to clear space, resulting in much angst and a mad rush to re-film the lost sections before the light was gone. It was quite late when we left, even later to home and bed, but we got the job done and had a pleasant afternoon together in the process.
Next weekend (well, in reality last weekend, but i'm supposedly writing this a week ago - stupid no posting in work time rule) will be a busy one again, judging the junior poomsae competition all day Saturday - times are set for 9am to 10pm! (though actually it was finished by around 5pm, but i didn't know this when i would have written it last week), then a solo working bee Sunday to clear back the bushes from the side fence in preparation for its replacement, releasing our Rudd bucks into the local economy as intended.
Now if only i can find time to get a good night's sleep in there somewhere.