I first tried meditation in the late 60s. In bell bottoms and tie-dye shirt, I went with college friends several nights a week to an old house in woodsy Los Gatos. I vaguely recall a robed man speaking softly as we sat on floor cushions with our legs crossed like pretzels. Then there was silence. Restless and fidgety, I just kept wondering when the darn gong would sound so I could open my eyes and get up and move around. After a few sessions I stopped going.
I'm 66 now and retired. Recently I joined a church that combines Eastern practices with its core teachings and saw that it offers group meditation one evening a week.
"I'll give it another try," I thought gamely, and showed up one night.
We sat in a circle around a sunken platform of flickering candles. The leader explained that there would be an hour of silent meditation. Right away I remembered my earlier failure. "Wow," I said. "That's a long time. Is it okay if I get up once in a while and walk around really quietly?"
Of course, they murmured.
We closed our eyes and entered the silence. In five short minutes the vibrating gong brought us mentally back to the room. It seemed like five minutes but actually it had been an hour. I was amazed at how relaxed and peaceful I felt. I never dreamed I could sit still for that long in total silence.
It was a lesson about changing and not realizing it for all those years. And about the possibility that I can do other things I've wanted to but shied away from, like speaking in front of people, windsurfing, growing orchids or singing. The church choir is open to everyone without auditions. I'm not too old to surprise myself some more. I just have to try new things-or try old things again.
With a Perspective, I'm Pat Torello.
Pat Torello is doing her meditation from her home in the East Bay.