the meditation center is open several times a week. the same method of meditation is taught and practiced in the same room on the same cushions and yet each of the days is different.
thursday meditation is mid-day on a weekday, when traffic and construction work and the store downstairs are active. when the weather is good the windows and doors are open and the busy world outside flows in and out of the room with the breezes as we sit and hold our seat. none of that peace and quiet, non- distraction coddling for us -- we practice holding our seat and staying with our mind through it all, as all of us sneeze, open water bottles, take off sweater, scratch.
someone is timekeeper on thursdays, but no gatekeeper. perhaps that's why it is thursday that throws me the otherworldly challenges! one week it was dragons fighting outside the center. the noise was deafening. we sat through the metallic screeching and tearing, the alarming beeping, the building-shaking crashing. it went on for the entire hour. (our center is next to a train yard.) i knew it was a test and i brought the dragons and their fearful battle into my consciousness instead of letting them pull my mind out to them. i was not afraid or angry.
another time, as i left the room, i was attacked by a demon! she flew at me with beak and talons emitting dreadful cries! i tried to remember how to deal with this...i did remain outwardly calm, mostly friendly, but i admit i tried to get away and make her stop. not bad for a first encounter, but in retrospect i should not have tried to get away, but maybe worked my way along to the tea area as she followed screeching, and made tea for both of us? i remember one story of a sage who allowed the demon to eat him up, but i'm not sure how to do that.
i don't have these encounters with the other world evenings, or on sunday mornings when there is a gatekeeper and often even a kasung, and there are protector chants at the beginning and end. but i am curious to face these thursday challenges.