So what is meditation? In the practical ‘what and how’ realm of reality, it means a lot of things to a lot of people but essentially whatever we do where ever we do and however we do it, the aim is to connect with spirit, to connect with the part of us that connects to the spiritual energies that exist in our belief systems.
Prayer is a type of meditation. Some people talk about communing with nature in all forms as being their path to meditation. Others honor their deity with ceremony, acknowledgement and gifts, others use complicated journeys to unlock doors and people to guide us into understanding more about ourselves and our lives. No-one is solely right or wrong. How can anything be wrong when people receive the joy and peace that is so connected with the art of meditation.
For me, the most impactful and probably the most challenging form of meditation is the art of Zen.
Zen uses no imagery, no ceremony, no ‘props’. Zen is about sitting in silence and through that silence reaching a connection with the universal energies to learn more about ourselves and about spirit in its purest form. So why is it so challenging? The aim is to sit quietly and to observe but not to get attached to our thoughts!…..that is why it is challenging. The aim is to still the mind, to become at one with pure energy. Hmm….. sounds so simple but as most simple things, it is not always simple to achieve!! It’s just not something that we are used to doing in the 21st Century of action and pro action, technology and worldwide communications. Which is precisely why it is so important and so relevant to modern living.
Doing such meditation alone in one’s one space is refreshing, calming, at times disturbing but ultimately very holistic and healing. But as anyone who has done meditation in a group will know, whatever you can achieve (or rather NOT achieve) is multiplied exponentially when meditating in a group regardless of the surroundings. Take that group energy and place it in an environment designed for purpose and the experience takes on a whole new dimension.
Which brings me to the Zen House in Hue. Just looking at the pictures makes me smile and relax.
The Zen House is situated just outside of Hue in Central Vietnam and is actually a complex with a number of buildings, gardens for beauty as well as for cultivating the organic ingredients that are used in cooking the vegetarian meals that are served. Locally it is called Cat Tuong Quan. Cat Tuong means ‘to bring joy or pleasure’. Quan means ‘gentleman’. So Cat Tuong Quan means ‘the gentleman who brings joy or pleasure’. It is the term used to describe the host of the House and is also the name given to the house itself.
So what can you expect when visiting Cat Tuong Quan? That depends largely on how long you choose to stay for but the one thing that is always guaranteed whether you choose a half day visit or decide to stay over for 2 nights or longer is that you will have a warm and friendly greeting from
Quan, the gentle man host.
This is a spiritual center and any visitors are expected to respect the fact. People are asked to dress respectfully, speak softly, treat everything and everything with the gentle spirit of Buddhism. Meals are taken in the spirit of honoring the food and the gift that it affords us. And what do we get it return? As a visitor we get to experience that wonderful deep sense of calm and peace that abounds in such an environment. We get to allow ourselves to slow down and to connect with our sense of being in the present and embracing what that means. We get to step out of the hustle and bustle of daily life as we know it and to reconnect with the gentle manners and ways of those who embrace the Buddhist way of being. It is relaxing and invigorating at the same time. People staying at the house often report that they sleep better, enjoy their food and indeed, become more aware of themselves, others, their food, nature and everything around them.
You can see the range of visits and experiences that can be arranged for you at the house. Just make sure you book in advance with HGH Travel to reserve your place….this is one that you just do not want to miss for a short half day visit, a 2 night stay or to celebrate a special event.