My partner was working this weekend so I decided to attend the day long meditation workshop at the Vajradhara Buddhist Center in my neighborhood. I am a shy person and I tried to think of a thousand reasons (ie. did not want to spend money, did not know anybody, too weird etc. etc. etc.).  After much mind churning, I jumped on my cobwebbed bike and pedaled over to the center. When I got there, I was greeted by Tilopa, the resident monk. Tilopa offered us tea and some cookies. I also noticed some Tupperwared chocolate Turtles which I promptly ate. I was really liking this place and the sense of calm I was feeling. The foundation is basically a house that has statues of Buddha throughout and very little furniture so you have more room to meditate. By the time we were ready to start four more people arrived for a total of six attendees. Everyone was friendly, open minded and eager to begin the class.

There were six comfortable floor pillows in the meditation room with a small bench near each one. We each claimed our spot and sat in a lotus position as Tilopa began his lecture. This lasted for a couple of hours and then he began a guided meditation which ended with us all going out to lunch at Mellow Mushroom. As we followed the bald yellow and red gowned monk like ducklings, all I could think about was what the passing people were thinking (this is Charlotte for God’s sake- we’re still in the Bible Belt). After lunch, Tilopa continued his talk followed by a meditation and then a workshop. The workshop consisted us pairing with someone else and the other person telling something about themselves. When your partner finished you were supposed to recite back what they told you. The idea being that the one step to cherishing other beings is to truly listen to what they are saying…  I felt very akward and nervous but managed to stumble out something about my self. ( I was later informed that shyness is a form of self-cherishing).

The class ended in a meditation and I biked back home.  I think what I  learned from this class was the danger of self-cherishing . The first steps to inner peace require that we quit focusing on ourselves and our happiness and begin focusing on how to help other people find happiness . . . and so I begin this journey.

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