My phone beeps.. “I have three letters for you Becky…”..
“You must give me your number before you leave Becky!”. It’s moving day and I’m carrying boxes up and down the stairs passing the open door of my neighbour’s flat as I go. He’s in his usual position lying on his bed, a ciggie hanging out of his mouth, his door wide open watching people’s movements as they go about their day.
“Er ok” I shout back. It’s not that I don’t like him – it’s more.. well. He’s a big scary bloke, thirty years older and his attempted murder story kinda freaked me out…. ‘when people show you who they are believe them the first time’ Maya Angelou… I think to myself.
I manage to avoid exchanging numbers for a while.. until one day.. I am back cleaning the flat before I hand the keys in.. my phone is in my hand and I bump into him on the stairs.
“Oh you should give me your number!” he exclaims. I look down at the phone in my hand. He looks down at the phone in my hand. And we look at each other. And I give him my number. He taps it into his phone and hits save, then the ‘RING’ button. My phone rings.
I knew he was going to do that I think. He looks at me and I smile.
“Ok see ya Becky” he mutters. It’s Beckiiii I want to say. But I remember that this is a vocal conversation in realtime.
A week later my phone beeps.. “I have three letters for you Becky…”… I’d been wondering where my post had gone. I’d been popping in to the old address everyday to pick it up but there had been nothing there. Grrrr. I think.
I sit staring at my computer screen drumming my fingers on the desk. And try to think of a get out clause. I decide the best answer is to avoid the situation. But I can’t concentrate. I type in the words ‘meditate’ into google. I decide I need some sort of helping hand to peace and stress free living.. I then type in ‘London… meditation” and up pops The Buddhapadipa Temple. I put my coat on and head out the door.
I walk up to the temple and am shocked at its size and beauty. Unaware that London held such a treasure. Oh wow.. I think.. bigger than it looks in its photos. I head in to the temple for the 4pm meditation and sit on the bench unsure of what I am meant to do. One of the men meditating turns and looks at me.. “beginner???” he asks. “Yes!” I whisper back glad he has asked.
“Come with me!” he says..
“Er… ok!” I reply quietly. We head upstairs in to a small but intricately decorated room and sit down each on a cushion.
Another girl of a similar age to me joins us.
“So.. what do you know about meditation?” he asks us both. We begin to discuss meditation and the mind..
“Pyschology is still very underdeveloped” he tells us.. “a lot of it they turn to Buddhism for…what do you want to achieve with meditation…?”
“Well. I guess I want to be able to control my thoughts”. I say… in the hope that one can wake up instantaneously positive everyday “Screw you negative thought!!” BAM replace it with a positive one. You know. That kind of thing.
“Yeah that’s what I want too” the girl sitting next to me exclaims.
“Hmmm. That is impossible..” he says.. “maybe in other meditations but not in this one…”. Damn! I think.
“Take a look at the Buddha” he says. The girl and I both look at the huge gold Buddha towering over us. “How do you think it got so shiny?”
One of the monks passes through the room and the meditation teacher and he bow.
“Erm…polishing…” the girl nexts to me replies. “Exactly! We believe what you achieve with meditation is a polishing of the mind… so all the best thoughts can come to the surface…but it takes practice…”
My mind wanders… wax on wax off.. wax on wax off… Karate Kid.. ?! I think.. making the connection. And then swiftly remember why I went there in the first place. Focus.. focus Becki. Becki with an i not with a y.
For the next hour and a half we practice mindful walking and sitting meditation.
“Mindfulness… the opposite of distraction…!” he exclaims.
We walk up and down the room slowly with our eyes closed…
“The experience… it is about the experience” he whispers… wax on… wax… my mind tries to take over. And as we practice I notice the faint sound of an owl hooting in the distance.
We then join the monk in the main room, and bow. The other girl has left so it is now just me, the teacher and the monk… “would you like to come for a cup of tea in the house?” the teacher turns and asks me after two hours of meditation “Sure!” I smile. Happy to be invited and surprised that that was really two hours long.
We sit around the large table… and as the only English girl in the room I feel a bit out of place. The discussion is in thai and so I sit drinking my tea quietly. The monk says a few things in English to make me feel more comfortable. Everyone is smiling and the mood is warm. The biscuits keep getting pushed my way. I try to explain that I’m trying to practise mindful eating.
And as I leave and walk up the road with a happy feeling… I think… “Wow.. that was unexpected…” and my phone beeps… “Becky the letters r here…”
“Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.” Buddha
I put my phone back in my pocket and decide to concentrate on the present feeling. The unexpected warmth I had just encountered… and the happiness that had invoked..
Have a good week,