Woman hopes to spread message of meditation
By MOLLY WALTER
The Hays Daily News
Meditation is not a well-known practice in the Midwest, though Liz Lawlor is hoping to help make it one.
Meditation is a practice of becoming in tune with yourself and your thoughts, and there are several ways to practice.
"In Soto Zen, we practice what's called objectless meditation," she said. "What you're doing is you're looking at three basic things. You're looking and your posture and your breath and your attention, understanding that your posture and your breath set you up so you can pay attention."
Lawlor is in the process of sewing her Okesa robe. The Okesa is sewn by hand and takes about a year to sew on average.
"There's teaching within the robe. It looks like a rice field, and it's sewn on that purpose. The robe itself is a symbol of the teachings of Buddha," Lawlor said.
After completion of the robe, she will go through a ceremony with her teacher to become a Novice Zen Priest in the Soto Zen lineage.
"The sewing practice is being attentive to what's right here, what's right now," she said. "It's not mindfulness so much as paying attention to what's going on in your life right now."
During meditation, one sits facing a wall, "face to face with yourself," and it was one time in particular that caused Lawlor to become a dedicated practitioner.
"All these things were coming to my mind of what I had to do and all this stress related to me needing to do these things, and I suddenly realized ... there was no stress. I was creating my own stress," Lawlor said.
She realized she was the one who was saying all these things had to be done. She separated what the real stress was and what stress she was just opposing on herself.
Lawlor said it's important to recognize a thought is just a thought, and that's all it is, whereas in life, thoughts seem far more important than they really are.
"You're not trying to control your thoughts. You're not trying to push them away. You're not trying to hold on to them. You don't make a judgment about your thoughts, whether they're good, whether they're bad. You just kind of let them go and just let them happen," Lawlor said. "And after a while, with practice, you learn to be a little bit more in tune with your thoughts."
She explained as one gets to know himself better, then he can relate to other people better.
"If you sit still enough long enough, you find changes in your life."
Meditation can be practiced with or without the Zen. Lawlor pointed out people don't have to believe a certain thing when they walk in the door, and they don't have to believe a certain thing when they walk out. Zen meditation is an experience-based practice.
"The meditation is the meditation," she said. "You can believe in whatever you want to believe. If you want to believe in God, you can believe in God. If you don't, you don't have to."
Lawlor hopes to eventually have meditation classes. She also is trying to set up a Skype session. For more information, contact Lawlor at firstname.lastname@example.org or (785) 798-3703.