TUESDAY, JULY 7, 1:00 PM
I thought I was slated for a 9:00-10:15 am on-line session with Shinzen… at least that’s what my cursory reading of the posted schedule led me to believe. I thought this was a weird time; breakfast was from 8:30 to 9:30, and I thought Shinzen was leading the Continuing Student’s Session around that time… but oh well. Mine is not to reason why…
Four adjacent retreat rooms had been set aside for On-Lines, Shin Zen’s and 3 others. They were linked to Shinzen’s room via phone cords, so that he could interactively meditate with 3 students simultaneously, checking back in with each in turn. We were directed, during the First Timers orientation, to go to our room (in my case, Room 2), don the headphones connected to the headset, take the head set with us as we sat in our preferred meditative posture, and hit the talk button.
I did this and waited for Shinzen to speak. And waited. And waited. 15 minutes passed; 20 minutes. Should I do something? Knock on Shinzen’s door? Was I manifesting my character defect of giving instructions a cursory, incorrect reading and fucking up? Was Shinzen blowing me off? I was getting angry, aggrieved and self-flagellating all at once. I tried to use the time to mediated on “Relax”/”Blank” so that the hour wouldn’t be a waste. I tried to focus on the negative emotions as body sensations. I finally gave up at 10:00 am and went into the main building.
Upon my arrival, I found another First Timer looking for the First Timer’s processing meeting scheduled for 9:30 in the Fireplace Room, but the Fireplace room was completely empty. We whispered furtively, breaking the noble silence vow, along with an elderly woman.
I told her I’d been signed up to on-line with Shinzen at 9:00 am, but there he was, leading the Continuing Students Meeting in the Garden Room. She directed me to look again at the posted schedule, pointing out that I was slated for 9:00 PM. OOPS.
The middle aged guy and I saw another sign saying that the First Timers Session was in the Oak Room. We searched and finally found it. The facilitator, a pretty, perky blonde woman, welcomed us inside. Our timing was perfect, she enthused; the other 20 or so students in the circle of chairs had shared about themselves, their meditation history and their meditation goals. Now it was our turn.
The session leader was Stephanie Nash, a long time acolyte and collaborator of Shinzen’s. She led us in a further exploration of “Relax” and Blank”, with digression in to “Talk”, “Image” and “Feel”. She discussed how, when one experiences a traumatic event, one can break the obsessive thought processes into those 3 components, thereby sapping the trauma of much of its strength. She made the analogy to a bundle of sticks, unbreakable when joined but easily broken as separated.
I considered my own recent “trauma”, i.e., thinking I was stood up by Shinzen when I had, in reality, screwed up one more time. I had tried meditating on the event as I was going through it, with limited success. During lunch, I had yet another opportunity to meditate on negative emotions. Feelings of remorse and self-contempt welled within me as I tried to eat. I wanted to cry, feeling like an unworthy idiot.