Stranger: Are you new to the area?
Me: Yeah, I recently moved here from North Carolina.
Stranger: What brings you to Claymont, DE?
Me: You know that old Children’s Home on Green Street that’s been abandoned for 8 years? I’m helping the organization that’s trying to turn it into a Meditation Center.
Since moving to Claymont, I’ve had this conversation with a wide range of people like the eye doctor, grocery store cashier, barber, insurance agent, postal workers, construction workers, and neighbors, and they all have the same initial inquiry, “what are you teaching?” People are curious, surprised, and generally pleasant. When I explain that you can’t talk for 9 days, most people say, “There is no way I could do that,” but the response is still positive.
The biggest test was at the barber shop full of regulars who knew I was the new guy. After some time, the barber said, “Tell me more about the meditation your teaching. I’m a Christian, and I’m curious.” Alarms are going off in my head! Be careful! Don’t screw this up! I started off explaining how it’s a secular technique to purify the mind. He pushed a little harder about whether we were converting people, and explained how some people are uncomfortable that the teaching is from the Buddha, but the goal is to teach a technique, not to tell people what to believe. He seemed comfortable with the conversation, and expressed that he hoped to see me again soon. I’ll accept this as a small success of making meditation normal in Claymont.