For my visitation paper, I visited a Buddhist temple, London Fo Guang Shan Temple, to participate their meditation. I chose to experience Buddhist meditation because I have heard reviews from people who had done it before. They all said it helped them to calm down and to become more focus on their work, in addition, meditation helped them to release their mental stress. All these comments triggered my curiosity, I wanted to feel that healing power personally. Buddhist meditation is preserved by Theravada, the oldest branch of Buddhism. Generally, there are two major types of meditation and they are Samatha (calm abiding) and vipassana (insight) (textbook). Meditation practiced in Fo Guang Shan Temple is vipassana, which begins by simply watching’s one’s breath as it flows and out (textbook). Besides the traditional meditation, zazen, I also experienced the one that has curing power, which is called “The Tien-Tai School Six ‘Qi’ Healing Methods”. The meditation room is located at the third floor of the temple. Different from the main worship room for both bodhisattva and ancestors, the worship does not have much decorations, the walls are painted with plain-white and hold no paintings. On the floor there are only cushions, 36 of them, spread out with certain distance, making sure everyone has enough room for meditation. In front of the room is a small table and a wooden fish is on the table, aside the table is a special cushion for the leading nun. I arrived at around 1:25pm, there were not many people in the room, mostly Asians; when the leading nun came in, around 20 cushions were filled in. Before the meditation started, we have to “Pao Xiang (跑香)”, which is an warm-up activity that involves walking, both fast and slow. Buddhists believe that “Qi (氣)” function along with blood in human body and it is essential for our health. Similar to blood, if Qi doesn’t circulate well in our body, it will affect our health in a negative way. Since we were mostly sitting while meditating, we must did some exercise (pao xiang) to make the circulation of our blood an qi smoother, so that they wouldn’t be blocked during or after zazen. Pao Xiang involve both quick walking and slow walking. During Pao Xiang, people should focus on nothing but their breath and every single step. In addition to warm-up physically, it also has a calming effect to our mind, telling us to get rid of other irrelevant thoughts and to be prepared for the latter meditation. The first part of meditation is The Tien-Tai School Six “Qi” Healing Methods. As I mentioned before, Buddhists believe our physical health is strongly associated to the flowing Qi, if our body goes wrong, it is probably due to the blocked Qi in our body. Hence, the purpose of the healing methods is to break through the obstructs of our Qi, and it mainly focuses on our six important organs: Lungs, Kidney, Liver, Heart, Spleen, and Mouth, Stomach, Bladder. By practicing the healing methods, one can exhale out the Qi that has been stuck in our body, which brought negative effect to our health. The healing method has 8 different sets of exercise, included warm up exercise and finishing exercise, and they all composed by inhalation and exhalation. The way of inhalation stays the same throughout all 8 sets of exercise, the difference among these exercises comes from the method of exhalation, different ways of exhalation will exhale the Qi from different parts of the body. We started with the warm up exercise and each exercise was repeated five times. I will briefly describe each exercise in the paragraphs below. Warm up exercise
Inhalation: Stand with your feet at shoulders width. Slowly raise both arms at your side until it is in line with the shoulders. Then, move both arms to the front of the body. Exhalation: Slowly and naturally bring your arms own with the palms of your hand facing down (breathe naturally). Healing method: Lungs
Inhalation is as...
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