Wednesday, 13 August 2008
The last Simply Silence meeting (on the 28th July) was led by the amazing Kate James (http://www.totalbalance.com.au/ : executive and personal coach; and meditation teacher) and I would highly recommend you take a look at Kate’s website and read some of her insightful newsletters. Kate has a very gentle and wise energy and she led the group in three meditations; an inner awareness meditation, silent 15 minute meditation and finally a mindfulness meditation. Kate has joined our group before, about six months ago, and it was again a pleasure to spend time with her and hear her wise words.
At the end of the session, feeling very mellow and ‘present’ I thanked Kate and the whole group for the wonder of sharing in this regular group meditation experience. Later, as I was speaking with some of the newcomers, someone asked me about my own meditation path and commented that I finished the evening with a small bow to the group. To be completely honest I don’t even recall doing this; its a practice that I have not consciously done for some years… a practice that at one time I lovingly embraced, a time when I enthusiastically dove into the Buddhist traditions.
It brought back so many memories.. the practice of bowing.
Here in the West we don’t bow to anything or anyone … I think in general we don’t have much in our lives that we respect enough to bow to … plus, to be fair, it probably wouldn’t occur to us to bow its not really a part of our culture. I suspect we also have this need to continue to state how ‘equal’ we all are...
In the East however everyone is always bowing to everyone else. In many cases it's a sign of respect, a greeting, sometimes a religious practice – and such a gracious, gentle and peaceful practice. A perfect opportunity to just PAUSE. Bowing is an Eastern practice of reverence and mindfulness, a way of honouring with a bodily gesture our commitment to the interconnectedness of all people; the path of simplicity, and compassionate awareness.
“When I join my palms to greet.. I don’t do it simply to be polite. I do it because this is my practice... Joining my palms, I make a flower... It’s beautiful in appearance and it's beautiful on the inside. In joining my two palms, I realize the oneness of body and mind. My left hand is like my body, my right hand is like my mind. They come together, and in an instant I arrive at the state of oneness of body and mind. When mind and body come together, they produce our true presence. We become fully alive. Oneness of body and mind is the fruit of practice that you can get right away – you don’t have to wait” ~ Thich Nhat Hanh
Bowing when done deeply and authentically can become a lovely and sacred ritual. I truly loved my learning to bow and prostrate. In mindfulness practice any act that we do, done with truth and concentration, becomes a ritual. When we drink with all our being, investing one hundred percent of ourself into the act of drinking.. mindfulness becomes our reality. We truly live deeply for this one precious moment of our lives.
When I joined my hands together in prayer pose, and bowed my head to the room – I like to think I was subconsciously honouring the shared experience and time we had spent together. It was heartfelt... it was acknowledging the wonder of having been truly present.
When I bow at the end of my own meditation practice it is my personal 'thank you' ... I am thanking myself for being open and accepting of myself and others ~ and in a grander sense its also an honoring of all that one's life path will present (with a kind, respectful and open heart).