While waiting for my eyes to numb, i sit in darkness and silence for ten to 15 minutes. I sometimes use this time for sitting meditation or centering prayer, which are quiet contemplation. Tuesday i started by becoming aware of my breathing, then started a Tonglen medition. Physiologically, breathing a process of exchanging relatively poisonous carbon dioxide in the lungs (exhaling) for relatively vital oxygen from the atmosphere (inhaling). I have heard that the amount of oxygen in earth's atmosphere (about 21 percent) is exactly the amount needed to keep most of us alive. (at fifteen percent we would suffocate, at 26 percent everything combustable would soon catch fire). Tonglen words does the opposite: with each exhalation i imagine blessing being spread out upon the sentient universe, With each inhalation, i imagine accepting the pain and sorrow of all sentient beings to be my own sorrow and pain. (Actually, i only ask for a little more than my share, as much as i can bear.) Tuesday i thought of specific persons and situations to be the recipients of compassion, joy, peace and loving kindness. By being specific, i was able to visualize the particular terrorist or politician or cancer victim or refugee or person unable to breath or person in dread. Of course, on the intake, i was able to also feel the pain of the particular persons i was imagining. At the end of the short time i felt refreshed and more alert, a frequent sign of having meditated. It was certainly better than sitting imptiently for ten minutes waiting to get poked in the eye with a needle.
The aftermath of the was particularly irritating, and i sat with my eyes closed through the fifteen minute drive home in elder daughter's car. This was an opportunity for more contemplation. After failing to connect with my earlier Tonglen, i sat quietly with an almost empty mind. At first the sound system and the roar of the tires on the wet streets were distracting, then the two noises blended together into a more pleasant sound; then i realized that i could turn down my hearing aids. Then the tires became surf and the sound system became the music of another small Taoist village several miles away. (Tao Te Ching, 80 -- but instead of cocks crowing or dogs barking, i thought i heard churchbells ringing). Then there was inner silence through most of the drive. The pain in my eyes could not penetrate silence, or rather the silence dissolved the pain.
Two reminders that i do not contemplate nearly enoughj