5 of us had arrived for Thursday evening practice. Davey, Paul, George, Brian and myself were loosening up on a hot, humid, Fayetteville summer early evening. We were discussing what we were going to do, when Sifu Chin walked out to the Kungfu Hanger and mentioned he had a surprise practice.
He said, ‘a friend of mine came in from the Buddhist Temple and is willing to teach you proper Buddhist meditation. She is a very well respected Nun at the temple.’
The 5 of us glanced at one another with admitted interest, but not necessarily excitement. Please understand we were all young, early 30’s. All of my classmates were active US Army and all of us had been with Sifu Chin for years. He had already taking us through hours of sweat in meditation. We all practiced our Zham Zhuang, the Chinese Still Standing Meditation for ‘One Hour’ everyday. So, what was a little ole Nun going to contribute to our ‘Chinese Martial Arts’ training.
Of course, we didn’t argue with Sifu and about 5 minutes later, this petite Chinese lady came out. She was in her 60’s, barely weighed 95 pounds, and dressed in plain, Buddhist clothes. She had a soft voice as well I remember a very warm and gentle smile.
She gave us each one incense. We repeated her chants to watch over us as we took turns lighting them over a candlel. We stood and held the base of the incense in almost a prayer palm, repeating another set of chants. So far, it was very pleasant and warming to my heart. Then…
This sweet lady asked us to have a seat. She put herself into some sort of lotus posture, and when she saw that none of us could do it, she smiled and said she would give us the ‘childrens version’. Remember that our incense is still being held, so you had to do it all without hands.
When we all got into a position that we could somewhat be still in, the chanting began again. We are nearly a total of 15 minutes in (standing and sitting) and the sweat is pouring off of us, but not her.
She instructed for us to continue with a simple chant, alternating with a breathing exercise until the incense completely burned out. We were all struggling. My back started slumping, she gently said, ‘Sit like a hawk poised on the tree top’. Arggg. The pain in my legs and hips. It was a wonder the sweat pouring down me didn’t soak out the incense.
Strangely enough, there were small bouts of time that I settled in. Almost drifting into a zone. Then the ash of the incense would fall and bring you back into awareness.
The incense lasted for about 25 minutes, then we had more chants with full prostations. After 45 minutes, the 60 year old, 95 pound Buddhist Nun said practice was over. We all were sprawled out, literally laid out on the floor in our own sweat.
I have never forgotten this Nun that changed my life. Each time I sit to practice, I am grateful that she shared with us in one evening a practice that would enrich me.
Being still and quiet for even 20 minutes is a natural way to separate yourself from the chaos. When I was younger, I referred to it as ‘Wrestling Time’. Where my heart and mind would go to the mat to tug it out. Today, they generally work on the same team. When they don’t, I sit for 30.
Thank you 😊