Sunday, November 11, 2007

Diabetes, Obesity & Zen

It has been about three months since I was told by my Doctor that I was diabetic. At first, i was so worried about my condition that I underwent a short period of depression. I had this idea that diabetes meant a life of bland food for the rest of my life. To calm my fears, I did a lot of research over the internet regarding diabetes, and was surprised to learn that one can live a nearly normal life even with diabetes. Then an invitation to attend the Glimpse into Zen orientation at the Zen Center for Oriental Spirituality came, and I decided to attend.

We were a small group of attendees, probably less than twelve, and composed of individuals of varying ages and professions. Our hostess, Dr. Lulu Ignacio of Cardinal Santos, gave us a brief introduction on zen meditation and its beginnings here in the Philippines, as well as a backgrounder on the beginning of the Zen Center for Oriental Spirituality in the Philippines.

The talk was a short one which lasted about thirty minutes. We were then taken to the meditation area where we were taught how to "sit" or meditate properly, the potures we should use, the hand positions and everything else in between.

When i walked into the Zen orientation, i had no intention of finishing the entire "course", but i found myself going weekly to attend the orientation. It was then that i discovered that slowly, zen meditation helps me to cope with my diabetes. Being overweight for nearly a third of my life, it also helped me to see clearly the need to revere my body, thus encouraging me to eat foods that are not harmful to my body (which is a good thing since, as a diabetic, i am under strict orders by my doctor to follow a strict dietary regiment).

I and my "peers" have finished the 5th session and we are on our last three sessions before our formal acceptance into the practice. Being able to sit daily for ten to fifteen minutes used to be hard for me, but now has become sort of second nature. It has helped me to become a calmer person, more patient and understanding of others. I have learned to overcome my insecurities regarding my weight and have adjusted to a more tranquil lifestyle.

It got me thinking that Doc Lulu is right: nothing happens by chance. We moved to Provident without knowing that the Zen Center was just three houses away. I found out my sister practices zen when we moved to Provident. Now, I am taking the zen orientation classes.

My 5 weeks experience with zen has led me to believe that it can help others in my situation to try meditation, whether as a form of stress relief, therapy for the insecure or just plain sitting in silence in union with others.