Holding the Universe in the Palm of My Hands

Dr. Kim, in his strong martial arts voice, commanded “Sit up straight, happ close your eyes (he meant ‘half’ close;’ the ‘f’ sound is difficult for first language Koreans), and look out to the floor one metre ahead of you. Breathe in very slowly. Feel the air on the tips of your nostrils as you breathe in. Imagine you have a feather in front of your nose and don’t to move it.”

Our first meditation class was in a meditation hall on the bottom floor of Dr. Kim’s house. The room was about 12 by 16 feet, painted in a soft cream colour, carpeted, and had a large picture window that faced the west. Except for a square dais, upon which Dr. Kim sat on a meditation cushion and lead our meditation class, the hall was empty.

This day, me and 4 other students, Ray, Locke, Chris, and Cindy, had our first instruction in Zen meditation. I sat on a zazen cushion facing the wall under the western picture window. Because I was limber enough to do it, I brought up my left foot and put it on my right thigh, and then pulled up my right foot and put it on my left thigh. This was the ‘full lotus’ meditation pose and I was proud to be able to do it.

Dr. Kim’s meditation instructions were difficult to master. Watching my breathing made me afraid I was going to hyper ventilate. After sitting like this for 5 minutes, I began to stiffen up. Tremors of energy rippled up my spine to the top of my head. I did all I could to hold onto my breathing until I was able to calm down them down. Eventually, they stopped and I was able to sit there without shaking. It would be years before I knew where the tremors came from.

“Rest your arms on your thighs just below your navel. Cup your right hand fingers in the fingers of your left hand, your thumb tips touching. Imagine you are holding a bird. You are holding the universe in your hands.”

“Now, look inside yourself and ask yourself, “Your body is car to heaven. Who is driving your car? Who is my driver?” Later he would say things like, “Your body is apartment that your parents gave you with free rent. Who lives in your apartment?”

Categories Blog Post | Tags: , , | Posted on January 8, 2018

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