Happy Friday! Congratulations to everyone for surviving what I'm sure was another busy week. Even though the holidays are the most wonderful time of the year, let's face it. For many of us, it also proves to be one of the most stressful times.
So I was pleasantly surprised--which is really no surprise--that today's Downtown Dharma gave me just the medicine I was looking for, a cure for stress in the city. As a result, I decided to take some writing stress off myself by opting to share Dharma's insight for today's post. So without further adieu, check out Punky Meditation:
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Josh Korda has silver teeth, sports tattoos from head to toe and lives in Williamsburg. Oh, and he’s also the spiritual teacher of a Buddhist meditation group called Dharma Punx.
Intrigued by his edgy enlightenment, I interviewed Korda months ago for a book proposal. He is a freelance art director by day, which allows him to conduct his Dharma Punx talks and sittings pro bono. The ancient Buddha never believed in receiving payment for spiritual services, Korda insisted. (He also didn’t live in Manhattan or enjoy fine dining, I responded.)
The day we met, he explained why we’re all so stressed out in the city.
“We base our identity on things that are constantly changing: work, money, beauty and friends,” Korda said. “We try to control what we have no control over. Instead, base your identity on the internal, on what’s inside.”
What’s inside me usually includes a very Chatty Cathy that’s not always so supportive. Meditation has helped me quiet my thoughts, keep me cool and allow real wisdom to surface. You know, wise thoughts like, yes, must work out today and no, a size two just wouldn’t look good on you.
I checked out the Dharma Punx meditation and dharma talk this past Tuesday. Meditating home alone is a big challenge, especially with the MacBook, iPhone and iPad nearby. Korda said that even the Buddha recognized our difficulty and suggested we meditate in groups to share in the experience.
The room was filled with hipsters and artists, layered in sweaters and tees: your typical LES bunch. During the 40-minute meditation through traffic sounds on 1st Avenue, Korda interjected with calming statements and thoughts like, “If we were more peaceful, there would be less suffering in the world.” I was hitting my Zen state. The grungy gathering was doing me right.
Korda’s Dharma talk afterwards was about isolation and suffering, which I interpreted as such: The mind kicks us when we are down. Life is suffering — people die, we gain weight.
“Buddha says we all get struck with arrows,” Korda told the group. “But for every arrow, we shoot many, many more into us. The bulk of suffering is what we create. Those extra thoughts that include, ‘What’s wrong with me?,’ ‘Why me?’ and ‘How could this be?’”
Part of the group’s purpose is to share and swap life stories so people can see we all have similar arrows.
I tried to keep my Zen mind state going on the train home. Though I got funny looks as I sat with my eyes half open and index and thumb fingers touching, meditation style on top of my iPad.
Then again, those thoughts could just be more arrows in disguise. Ohm…
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