You have to say something

"Hi, my name is Robin. I originally came to Zen meditation because I wanted to find a sense of peace."

Wait. What? No. That is not what I wanted to say. But it's too late. Damnit.

I'm teaching meditation instruction for the first time, so I have to say something. But I don't know why I had to say that. I did not come to meditation practice to find peace. I came to meditation practice because I was stressed the hell out and nothing else, aside from a little Tai Chi and Qigong, seemed to help.

I pause for a moment, because I feel inclined to remind everyone in the class that they are okay, just the way they are. That they are just fine. But I don't say it. I'm still not 100% sure I believe it about myself (though I definitely feel it more than I used to). Still, I want to reassure them that mistakes are okay. In fact, mistakes are welcomed. How else do we learn? Or open our hearts? Or remember who we really are?

I spend 30 minutes just telling them how to sit down. Because it is that important. Which probably freaks them out a little, but that's okay. It did me too. I'm talking a mile a minute, even though I don't mean to (it's just nerves). Until I start talking about settling the mind. And this helps me to settle mine.

But, this is the part that can start to sound esoteric and mysterious. So, I try to keep it as practical and down to earth as I possibly can. If you've never worked with your own mind, having someone instruct you on how to work with your mind can seem really weird. But, you've got to start somewhere, right?

I quickly squash the misconception that Zen meditation is about blissing out. I probably disappoint half the room when I tell them this. I remind them to be kind, patient and gentle with themselves. I remind them to come back to the breath and return to the present moment again and again and again (and again). Which, admittedly, they will not really learn how to do until a few months from now (if they keep practicing), but I do not tell them this either.

Before I know it, our time is up - time to send them on their way. There's nothing left to do but thank them for being here and wish them the best in their practice. And I do.