New Day Herald

Looking for the MA

Article imageThe walking meditation trip to Kyoto was wonderful. Each day we averaged eight miles and one day ten, though it never felt overwhelming. The day was fully planned with bus, taxi and train rides. Wearing fm receivers made communication smooth and Steve Beimel has the routine down so that everyone is taken care of.
MA? No, not another word for mother. In Japan it is the idea of taking a moment to breath and take in the beauty that is present. In the Shinto temples and Zen gardens, Steve focused us on how each pathway, rock and bush were consciously placed to have one’s breath experience wonder and excitement. One site that did it for me was the bamboo forest which reached to the heavens and waved gracefully in the breeze.
Steve explained that each rock that was moved was placed exactly how it was found…no need to mess with nature. The moss gardens, the temple painted gold, the Buddha feet temple, all were done with such respect and dignity. The Japanese honor one another by bowing and it sure was a new experience to feel bowed to in a Kyoto department store.
Because Steve has spent so many years in Japan, we got to experience master craftsmen and women at their homes. The calligrapher did a demonstration with the largest brush I have ever seen, the indigo tie dyer displayed a 400 year old cloth from his personal collection, a 75 year old mask maker carved a Kabuki mask while we smelled the shavings, an ikebana flower arranger explained why she placed flowers in such a way…and oh yes, a sweet lady playing a Japanese string instrument sang in a high pitched style as she does in theaters.
Paul Kaye balanced the ordinary with the spiritual. In temples we would take time to meditate. On buses and long walks we would listen to a J-R tape. In the mornings we would spend time together answering questions in dyads.
Paul kept reminding us to stay “in the present” which was my challenge! John Morton was very much a part of our group. He started off with us at 8 a.m. and became a member of our walking troup. After dinner, he did a Q&A and another night he did a seminar. And we were so fortunate to be present when John did a blessing at one of the temples. The walking meditation John did in the moss garden was one where I experienced how to focus on what is present and to realize the MA in the ordinary.
For me, the Kyoto trip was one of meshing the everyday and ordinary with the spiritual focus. It showed me that Spirit is in all things and all I need to remember is to take that breath and let the MA fill me. To me, Spirit lives not only in the breath but between the breaths.

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