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Lions Roar : January 2018
inform and change your life, feel free to think of them as your teacher. The proof is in the benefit. Why do Buddhists bow? From my point of view it looks kind of subservient. Bowing is a gesture of humbleness and respect, one that is easily understood in Asian traditions, but it can seem strange in the modern West. In Buddhism, there are three main kinds of bowing: Bowing toward shrines and statues, and even great Buddhist texts, is a sign of respect for the teachings, those who embody them, and the virtuous qualities—such as non-violence—they uphold. Bowing to teachers shows your respect for the example they set and your willingness to follow their teachings. When students bow to each other, it is in mutual recog- nition of the inherent goodness in each of us. In every case, bowing also inserts a mindful pause into everyday encounters—a micro-moment of meditation. When I meditate, I often get drowsy after awhile. At other times, I’m agitated and feel like jumping off my cushion. In neither case do I feel like I’m meditating correctly. What do I do? As long as there have been meditators, people have been encountering the extremes of drowsiness and agitation. This isn’t surprising, since in our daily lives we go through cycles of high and low energy. So why not when we’re meditating? Drowsiness and agitation are two of the classic “obstacles” in meditation, and there are a couple of recommended “antidotes” you can try. When your mind is drowsy and dull, try straightening your posture and raising your gaze, bringing more space and energy into your meditation. Conversely, when your mind is agitated and full of wild energy, lower and shorten your gaze and con- centrate more narrowly on your breath. In either case, consistent, light-handed effort is recommended. You don’t have to condemn yourself for doing it “right,” and you can listen to the signals your drowsiness and agitation are sending you. Perhaps you just haven’t been getting enough rest, or there’s a crisis in your life you aren’t acknowledging. You can use the drowsiness or the agitation as a simple reminder to return to the breath, the body, the room, and so on. As you keep returning, these obstacles simply become reminders of why you sat down to meditate in the first place: to be fully here with whatever is going on. ♦ WHO? WHAT? WHERE? Tell us what you’d like to know about Buddhism and meditation at email@example.com PETERAARON/ESTO THE RUBIN MUSEUM OF ART FEATURING ARTWORK FROM the Himalayas and surrounding regions, the Rubin Museum of Art in New York City’s Chelsea neighborhood is devoted to explor- ing Buddhist ideas, art, and practices. It is both an art museum and a vibrant educational and cultural center. Founded by philanthropists Shelley and Donald Rubin, the museum has offered more than 100 exhibitions and 3,500 programs for 1.4 million visitors since 2004. The permanent collection focuses on art from the Vajrayana tradition, while special exhibitions offer an imaginative mix of media and modern and traditional references. The current special exhibition, The World Is Sound (ending January 8), challenges visitors to listen with their whole body to the sounds of Tibetan Buddhism. The exhibit is cyclical—tracing creation, death, and rebirth—and includes the translation of a funerary text and the sounds of a human thigh bone trumpet. A new aspect of the ongoing exhibit Sacred Spaces addresses how pilgrimage can benefit the future self. Video screens embedded in taxi meters capture an artist’s journey to sacred sites in India, while videos of Tibetan Buddhist rituals around Mount Kailash show how place can affect spiritual practice. The Rubin features five gallery floors, along with a theater, a café, and an education center. Live events curated by director of programs Tim McHenry bring together Buddhist teachers with leaders in the arts, philosophy, and science. The Rubin also offers film screenings, concerts, workshops, meditations, and an annual Night at the Museum–type sleepover for adults. LION’S ROAR | JANUARY 2018 31 CULTURE • LIFE • PRACTICE