jump to navigation

How I Came to the Practice: Part 3 – Asian Exoticism and Zen for Dummies June 21, 2012

Posted by Living Abundance in Uncategorized.
Tags: , , ,
trackback

(This is part 3 in a series on the full story of how I came to Buddhist meditation practice. Read part 1 and part 2 here.)

My exposure to Buddhist meditation first came through Asian culture in the media. As a teenager, I had somewhat of an exoticism for Asian culture. I was fascinated with a culture from a different part of the world that was so different and so far away from where I was living and the culture I grew up in.

I can remember enjoying Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon which played on TV often. After seeing that movie I sought out similar movies with many of the same cast, including House of Flying Daggers.

I got the book Memoirs of a Geisha for an Xmas gift one year. I also played many video games during high school, believe it or not, and some of them had Asian settings or characters.

I also read my mom’s women’s style magazines and saw that Asian styles of interior decorating were in fashion at that time, particularly the “zen” simplicity look. I think the “zen” style appealed to me growing up in a very small and cluttered home.

I was also an avid reader of historical fiction throughout high school, and loved books set in different historical periods and locations. One day I came across the ridiculously long book Shogun about a Portugese trader who shipwrecked and is taken prisoner in 15th century Japan. I really enjoyed the book and learning about the setting and the culture portrayed. The book also included brief sections where the main character was introduced to Zen meditation and Buddhist religious beliefs, as well as other Zen practices like the tea ceremony.

Later I watched The Last Samurai and noticed similarities between the movie and the book Shogun. The movie also portrayed the main chracter being taught Zen meditation.

My interested was piqued. I wanted to learn more about this meditation technique. At the time, I was living on a farm near a small town in rural Saskatchewan and didn’t know a single soul who had ever tried meditation. I didn’t know a single Buddhist. There were no meditation teachers, groups or Buddhist temples. I turned to my familiar source of information: books.

I ordered a book called Zen for Dummies to be shipped to the tiny local library from a nearby city. I really enjoyed the book and learning about meditation, and still remember the metaphor of the finger pointing at the moon. I actually kept a list from the book of the top 10 things to remember about the Zen of romantic relationships.

One thing the book couldn’t do was connect me to any local resources, because none existed. I was left on my own. I tried practicing meditation at home according to the book’s instructions but wasn’t able to get the hang of it. I didn’t know what I was doing. I didn’t feel like it worked, it didn’t do anything. I wasn’t able to concentrate on my breath, and my mind was constantly wandering. (Little did I know at the time this is exactly what was supposed to happen during my first attempts at meditation practice.)

But I hadn’t completely given up on meditation. Somehow the underlying idea behind it seemed to intuitively make sense to me. I felt like there was wisdom there to offer me. I just had to find a way to access it, to learn it.

I moved away from home and sporadically would try practicing meditation on my own for short periods, sitting on a half-folded pillow on the floor of my room. I had yet to meet another single person who practiced meditation or was a Buddhist.

My connection would be through a university elective course.

Advertisements

Comments»

1. How I Came to the Practice: Part 2 – Why Meditation Came Naturally to Me « Living Abundance - June 21, 2012

[…] on to part 3 in the series on Asian exoticism and Zen for Dummies. Like this:LikeBe the first to like […]

2. How I Came to the Practice: Part 4 – Religious Studies and Meditation Instruction « Living Abundance - August 4, 2012

[…] is part 4 of a series on the full story of how I came to mindfulness practice, part 1, part 2, and part 3 are also […]

3. How I Came To The Practice: Part 5 – Running Away From The Darkness « Living Abundance - September 24, 2012

[…] links for part 1 – My Christian Roots, part 2 – Why Meditation Came Naturally To Me, part 3 – Asian Exoticism and Zen for Dummies, and part 4 – Religious Studies and Meditation […]

4. How I Came To The Practice: Part 6 – Seeking Spirit « Living Abundance - October 22, 2012

[…] links for part 1 – My Christian Roots, part 2 – Why Meditation Came Naturally To Me, part 3 – Asian Exoticism and Zen for Dummies, part 4 – Religious Studies and Meditation Instruction, and part 5 – Running From The […]

5. How I Came to the Practice: Part 7 – Finding Sangha « Living Abundance - November 21, 2012

[…] on the links for part 1 – My Christian Roots, part 2 – Why Meditation Came Naturally To Me, part 3 – Asian Exoticism and Zen for Dummies, part 4 – Religious Studies and Meditation Instruction, part 5 – Running From The Darkness, […]


What are your thoughts?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: