Several Mondays ago, a friend of mine invited me to attend a meditation group she was hosting for local musicians and their friends. When I arrived at the small church in West Tulsa, I took a seat in a small circle of folding chairs. The leader of the group mentioned that he had studied under Jon Kabat-Zinn and then invited everyone in the group to introduce themselves. I was surprised to learn that almost all of the musicians in attendance had never even attempted meditation before.
In gentle and supportive words, the leader of the group invited us into stillness with the ringing of a bell, and a wonderful silence filled the room. After a brief period lasting about ten minutes, the leader rang the bell. I looked up and noticed the faces around the crowd. Every single person had undergone a change of countenance. The leader invited people in the group to speak up. One man, a guitarist, commented that he was shocked by how long it had been since he felt peace, and by how easily available it was. Another person said she couldn't believe how busy her thoughts were. In their own ways, each person acknowledged they had stumbled upon something helpful, something mysterious, and something wonderful.
It had been years since I’ve sat with a group of complete beginners, and I was humbled and inspired by the power of their words. As longtime practitioners, we may become accustomed to the familiar gifts of stillness and forget what a valuable treasure it can be to those unaccustomed to it. Now, after several weeks of sitting, the musicians talk about even more profound effects. They’re feeling more at peace with themselves, and some of them are even making more songs than before. It took a small group of openhearted beginners to remind me that stillness can bring more music into our lives; it is a gift that edifies not just ourselves but beautifies the world around us.
Michael Mason, Zen Student