The Godfather

A bald Buddhist monk with black square glasses, deep voice, and a heavy New York accent led this morning’s meditation. He was like a mystic Don Corleone - the Godfather of meditation.

He got right to it by saying, “Dis is how iss gonna go. Weez gonna sit. Den weez gonna stretch foh a minute. Den weez gonna sit again. Zen like.”

After sitting “foh a minute” he began to guide us through a breathing exercise intended to help quiet the mind.

“Breed deep inta ya belly. Down inta da space two inches below ya navel, inta ya dantian (”dawn-tea-en”) - which, admittedly, sounded more like a mobster’s muscle head cousin tasked to guard the room’s donation basket than the space below my belly button.

With our minds now settled, our guide posed a question for our reflection. “Ask yaself, ‘What am I?’ an den youse gonna hit a wall called ‘I dunnoooo’. Just keep askin da question an hittin da wall. Exist in dat ‘dunno’ space.”

Mind you, it was barely past 7am and having yet to have breakfast, every time the man said “dunno space” I heard “doughnut place”.

Every time.

We sat, we stretched, we sat again, and the Godfather dismissed us at the end with, “Dat’s it. Ya done.”

Meditating with the Godfather was radically different than other meditations I’ve experienced. He was gruff, direct, and truly a spiritual gangster if ever there was one.

Lately I’ve been surprised at how easy it is to have situational expectations. I envision meditation being led by a sage-like man or woman with a soothing voice, sparkly eyes, and a ridiculously calming presence. Yet here was this guy, a Buddhist monk no less, who was none of those things while still having an undeniable presence and peace about him.

Thank you, meditation Godfather, for broadening my perspective on what meditation looks and sounds like. You’ve unknowingly made me an offer I can’t refuse by asking me to be more open to experiencing things as they are, not as they have been or “should” be.

Off to get a doughnut. Namaste.