Open meditation sessions do not focus on any particular style of meditation and you may practice in any way that is consistent with two simple principles: 1) sit as quietly as you can, and 2) help create, as best you can, a quiet, supportive, distraction-free environment for others.
Beyond this, and the scheduled ringing of bells, there are no rules, duties, or rituals. You are free to enter and leave at any time and through any door. Sit wherever you want. Once seated, shape your experience according to your own wishes.
Meditate if you wish,* but you don’t have to. If you like, you can use the session to sit in silence and enjoy the sounds and soft light of the college’s chapel, … reflect on the day’s affairs, … or just feel what it is like to take a brief break from the need to pursue a tangible goal in every waking moment. You can even lie down and take a nap.
Sitting in silence is simple, but not all that easy. Our culture is obsessed with doing. Our economy is obsessed with productivity. So when I say ‘sit as quietly as you can,’ I am not trying to give you an assignment. There’s nothing to do, nothing to produce, no goal to reach, during our meditation sessions. You don’t need to sit with rock-like rigidity or in perfect abstinent silence, although both experiences are interesting in their own ways. When the need arises, adjust your sitting posture, cough, scratch, open/shut a chapel door. Do what you need to do, but try to act simply and mindfully so as to minimize distractions for others.
* New to meditation? The Resources page contains links to materials that can get you started with meditation. If you would like to discuss these materials, receive some personal instruction, or just discuss what happens when you try to meditate, please contact Alan Shusterman (firstname.lastname@example.org).