Wearing a face mask during formal group-meditation may be less comfortable. It may also be more interesting.
Readers may know me as a meditator
I am a very inconsistent one. Sometimes, I go to a group for ‘formal meditation’ on a cushion. Sometimes, I go to a seven-day meditation. I would like to go more but don’t take the time. I write too much.
In COVID times, in a group
Meditation is freedom. All is possible; no coercion. At the same time, meditation is discipline. This comes from inside out. No discipline, no meditation. Maybe some daydreaming or some look-at-me, but no meditation.
Again, no coercion, so, there should not be any coercion to wear a mask. There is also no coercion to stay somewhere in group meditation if some people don’t wear a face mask. It’s simple: no coercion in any way at all.
At least, of course, that’s my idea of the happening.
This makes wearing a face mask very interesting in meditation
We’re not talking about you on your lonely cellar or in your garden. We’re talking in group. Or, maybe better, just not talking too much anyway. Just the necessary.
Then a face mask is like a thought that comes to disturb you. In meditation, specific attention goes to such thoughts (called bonnos in some tradition). Of course, every meditator knows that such disturbing thoughts are present most of the time. Or are they not?
The face mask may feel like a disturbing thought. You sit and wear one, and it’s there, and it’s there. And sometimes, it’s gone, and then it’s there, again. Right. How to meditate with a face mask sticking on your face all the way?
Not the mask disturbs, but the interpretation of the meditator. Without the interpretation, the face mask wouldn’t disturb at all. And that makes it very interesting.
Because it’s you. The face mask is not you. Your interpretation is you. It is who you are. So, being in contact with your interpretation can teach you a lot about you, as a meditator, and a person who, through this, may become a better person.
As a superficial thought, your (interpretation of your) face mask may disturb you. Your attention goes to the disturbance. The meditation doesn’t work optimally. So, even more attention goes to the disturbance. You know where I’m getting at.
You can put the face mask beside you. Hm. You can put the disturbing thought beside you. Again, hm. That’s not interesting. It’s just getting rid of something. You lose a chance, a contact, a communication, a path to your inner strength, a heavenly road to deep meditation.
A disturbing thought comes to you because it’s interesting to you. A disturbing interpretation of a face mask hits you in the face because it’s interesting to you. What does it tell you? Listen. Keep listening. Keep listening deeply. Then it may bring you to the other side.
This is also the other side of attention: superficial versus deep.
To many people, the concept of deep attention is a difficult one. That is understandable. Well, this is an occasion to learn. Not easy at all! This is what meditation is for in the first place. Not to feel good, but to feel bad in such a deep way that it feels good. Then to feel good in such a deep way that it also feels good like any other good feeling is hardly comparable to this. The bad feeling is not interesting as such. Even the good feeling is not interesting as such. The deep way is interesting.
This way also, you can learn to wear a face mask on other occasions as something that can be interesting in many ways, for instance, out of Friendliness.
We will need to wear it for a very, very long time to come. We can better learn to see this not as a disturbance to get rid of, but an asset.