The Effects of Every day Life
On Tuesday, October 2nd I attended my second Heat of Zen meditation group session. The second time attending the mediation group, I faced some difficulties and some things I was more comfortable doing. Since it was the second session I had been to, I was more familiar with the routine of things, the bowing, the sitting positions, and the silence that fills the room. However I faced some difficulties as well. The second session was less like an orientation, but more of the full on experience of how the Heat of Zen mediation sessions operate. This time the group performed the chanting, and walked slowly around the room while still meditating, which we had not done the first class. These were both new experiences, which made the meditation session that much more of a challenge.
The three readings, “The Cask of Amontillado” by Edgar Allen Poe, “Ode to American English” by Barbra Hamby, and “Suburban” by John Ciardi all conveyed an underlying theme of how in life, the littlest things have the biggest effects. I felt that my experience in the second meditation session I attended related to the underlying theme that sometimes the littlest things have the biggest effects. There are so many little things that go into meditating that effect how the experience will go, for example, if you do not have the correct posture your back will start to hurt or your feet will start to fall asleep which can break your stillness, concentration, and meditation. However, when I felt that I began to do the meditation properly, if even only for a few minutes, it cleared my mind my worries and was extremely replenishing. The littlest and most simple thing like focusing on the sounds of my breathing, to my surprise, can have the biggest effect on my mind, my body, and my soul.
While reading “The Cask of Amontillado” by Edgar Allen Poe, quickly began to feel the dark tone of the story which illuminated how hurt the narrator was that he sought death to Fortunato. I immediately reflected on my meditation experience. While the narrator and Fortunato are walking through the dark eerie catacombs passed piles of bones and human remains, I thought of this in a spiritual sense because there is such a strong presence of death surrounding them. This made me think of the mediation group because both of the times I have attended these sessions I have felt a strong spiritual sense as well, with the dimming of the lights, candles, and the presence in the room. At the end of the story, the narrator has successfully killed Fortunato as he had initially planned to seek his vengeance. The narrator was so strongly offended by the insult he had received by Fortunato that he would not settle until he punished Fortunato with impunity. Fortunato was completely unaware of what the narrator was scheming against him, and fell right into the narrators hands. Fortunato is chained up not fully aware what exactly is going on, and soon is blocked off by a wall the narrator builds, left there to face his death. Essentially Fortunato is killed because he has insulted the narrator. I believe this story goes beyond its cover; sending a message to the reader that things can easily hurt other people, and that the littlest things can have the biggest effects. People should be careful of what they say to one another and how they affect people, because small things can mean big things in someone else’s eyes.
The second poem, “Ode to American English” by Barbra Hamby, had a much different tone and spoke of completely different things, yet had the same underlying theme. In this poem the speaker talks of how she misses America and all of the little things in the country and language that make her miss it. This brought me back to sitting on the pads in the meditation class, trying to clear my thoughts. Besides the constant self-reminder of the piles of homework due, my family and friends are always on my mind. It reminded me of how while in meditation I will catch my mind wondering to past things that have happened with my family or friends, or things that are happening in the future. All of the little things that make me miss them whether it’s sitting around the table eating dinner with my family every night laughing so hard that my stomach hurts, or having the comfort of my friends who know me inside and out. The speaker reminisces on all of the little things that make her miss America, from the slang to television shows to food. This poem also relayed a strong theme of how the little things in life can have the biggest effects. The poem also seems to be conveying to its readers to not take the simple things in life for granted, because sometimes it’s not until we no longer have them in front of us that we appreciate them for what they are.
The last poem, “Suburban” by John Ciardi, has a more simplistic tone, yet has great insight on the little things in everyday life. In the poem Mrs. Friar calls Mr. Ciardi to explain that his dog had deposited in her petunias. Although Mr. Ciardi knows that she is mistaken because his dog is in Vermont with his son, he decides to go over and clean it up anyways. This poem differentiated from the others a little, in the sense that it made me think, what if Mr. Ciardi hadn’t cleaned up the deposit? I began to think maybe because they do live in a suburb, and Mr. Ciardi knows he will most likely have to see Mrs. Friar on a daily basis, he felt an obligation to pick up the deposit not wanting this to cause problems in their community. This made me reflect on my mediation group session. Both occasions I have been to the Heat of Zen mediation groups I have tried to escape my day and my thoughts. Part of escaping these things includes escaping the little obligations of everyday life, like homework, dishes, or laundry. Some of the little things I wouldn’t have necessarily wanted to do at that time but did because of the bigger effect it would have in the end. There are so many things that people do every day to avoid confrontation, or even just to be a helping hand, that they wouldn’t necessarily want to do on their own. These little things that we do can have an even greater effect in the end. Because Mr. Ciardi went to Mrs. Friars garden and picked up the deposit even though he knew it was not from his dog, there was no confrontation and the suburb remained the same. This poem once again, relays a great theme to the reader to consider that the littlest things in life can have the biggest effects.
The three readings, “The Cask of Amontillado” by Edgar Allen Poe, “Ode to American English” by Barbra Hamby, and “Suburban” by John Ciardi along with the Heart of Zen meditation session I attended this week all connect to each other, showing how the smallest things in life can have the greatest effects. Although I have only been to two of these sessions, I learn more from them every time and begin to see the bigger picture of the peace that meditation brings, fall into place. It reveals me to myself more with every session, where I’m starting to learn my strengths and weaknesses, what is on my mind, and how to relieve myself from the stresses of everyday life. Although meditation is still a challenging practice, I see the benefits of it more clearly every time.