Monday, August 25, 2014

Inland detour: Ch’an Buddhist center. Coast: Mendocino County. People: Mayra.

Inland and back.

To try to give my back some rest from the cycling (I emailed Esther Gokhale, a back/posture expert I have taken classes from - she highlighted to me that since my back was hurting that it would likely continue to hurt when bicycling until I obtained some rest), I decided to take a detour inland to visit a Ch’an Buddhist center.  My original introduction to meditation was from Ch’an Buddhist monks visiting the US from Taiwan.  I found the teachings of those visiting monks in Texas extremely profound so I was looking forward to the visiting a Ch'an Buddhist center.  

Sidenote: an abbreviated (and I hope not too inaccurate) history…an monk from India brought Buddhism to China, where it became Ch’an Buddhism, which then was brought to Japan.  The Japanese romanization of Ch’an is Zen (which is much more well-known in the West).  So Ch’an and Zen are at their heart the same thing but in Chinese and Japanese (the actual organizations that sprung out of the practice were both influenced by their respective cultures so there are interesting differences).

After a bit of a crazy bus-assisted journey inland with the Reggae on the River festival crowd I eventually made it to the center and did some tai chi chuan and meditation practice there in the heat (inland is so much hotter than the coast).  The grounds are interesting as the entire facility was a former state asylum that closed due to budget issues.  Monks and nuns live there now and there is a school (and peacocks!) at the center.    

The center never responded to my email inquiries (there seemed to be a relaxed ambivalence coupled with kind tolerance towards visitors - I would contrast it as the polar opposite to the strong embrace of welcome with intent of conversion I remember experiencing when visiting a southern Baptist church in the past), but I knew that day visitors were allowed so I booked a nearby hotel to allow me to practice at the center each day.  It seemed like a great plan to me but I had not anticipated that the hotel I booked would be full of high school baseball players on a trip who seemed to be up and about both late and early.  Staying at the hotel was utterly un-restful and not helping my back recover and I could not find a better option nearby.  So, I decided to cut the inland trip short and decided to use bus assistance as much as possible in efforts to get back home faster and rest my back.

I returned back to the coast in Mendocino County feeling a bit sad that my brilliant plan to rest inland did not go so well.  My camping gear also ran in to some issues (not so interesting story), so I was likely going to not be surfing or camping for the remainder of my bicycle trip.  It felt like my trip was going to become less interesting and less fun.

However, I saw upon reaching the coast that the ocean was basically flat - so I would not have had a chance to surf anyways - but the coastline is beautiful.  As I checked in to the hotel for the night in Point Arena, it turned out that the guy at reception was also a bicyclist (I forgot his name, unfortunately).  We were talking about my trip it turns out that he had heard of me from several other bicycle tourists.  He mentioned that I was infamous within the bicyclists on the road right now.  I suppose carrying surfing gear for hundred of miles on a bicycle is a somewhat harebrained idea that might be memorable.  In any case, it these things made me realize that my trip would still have funny and interesting interactions with folks even if I didn’t surf or camp that last few days of the trip.


Mayra.  Mayra is the really nice owner of Elegant Touch hair salon.  

I went for a haircut after visiting the Buddhist center (maybe seeing monks and nuns made me feel that my hair was too long :) ).  I really liked the story of how she started the salon.  Mayra used to work at a major chain salon and did not like the strict time limitations they put on the stylists (she is very nice and likes to give attention to folks).  One day she passed by the building where her current salon is in and she noticed the space for rent.  Later that week, she was at the hardware with her husband (who is a contractor) and noticed a very nice flooring which she thought would be perfect for a salon.  The flooring made her follow up and call about the space which set things rolling for her to be an entrepreneur and set up her own business.  Flooring in a hardware store can inspire a business venture - it pays to be open to inspiration from many sources.

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