Meditation: Looking to Breathe

I’ve had an interest in meditation, going now and then to classes and lectures in the hopes of developing a good new habit. I wanted to counterbalance over thinking. And I hoped to learn to better handle the stresses of work and home life. As long as I can remember I’ve suffered from intense bouts of insomnia, either not falling asleep, or now not sleeping past 4 or 5 am. I’m still hoping meditation can help.

Since I’ve been in New York I’ve been to the Shambhala Center of New York and to the Tibet House–both in Chelsea–several times. By far my favorite speaker was Sharon Salzberg who co-founded the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, MA with Jack Kornfeld and Joseph Goldstein 33 years ago.. She was so capable of bridging the gap between the East/West experience. She knows how to translate practices that come from aboard to the western mind and culture.

Also, around the corner from my job is an outpost of a major Zen center, the Zen Fire Lotus Temple on State Street. This is where I went on the first anniversary of September 11 when I need a serious, quiet place to be. It is so serious that I’m a little intimidated to try it out for a regular, weekly experience.

Now I’m looking for a good place for a weekly or bi-weekly/monthly mediation support system. Also I might want to try a good weekend retreat that’s not too severe. I’m not ready yet for seven days of silence or 5am to 10pm sittting or a male/female separation–especially if Craig were to go with me.

I’m interested in finding out more about the New York Insight Mediation Center, which I think is an arm of the Barre, MA group. And in Thich Nhat Hanh’s U.S. based center Blue Cliff Monastery, in Pine Bush, New York.

One thing that is bothering me, is, at least on the web sites, it appears that all the western/U.S. born teachers are white. I’m sure that’s not 100% the case, but I’m very aware of my needs to not be embedded in white, upper-middle class culture, solely. I know this is as much of a class issue as it is a race and culture issue. It’s something I want to look more into before finding a class or retreat where I’d feel comfortable.


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