One Last Breath?

- (Anonymous)

My disposition has always been toward the philosophic, psychologic and religious aspects of life. I have always wondered what I am really doing here on this planet besides surviving! As a child and well into my teens I explored Christianity as a way to find happiness. But it didn't do it for me totally. I carried on my life, being the best caretaker I could for myself and those around me but there was always something missing - some kind of happiness that was not to be found in external pursuits. Then one day I met some Buddhists. Their approach to life's dilemmas sparked an interest and from then on I became very interested in Eastern philosophies and religions but mostly on an intellectual level. Along the way, I was encouraged on by several wonderful teachers; just to keep the fire burning while immersed in all the vicissitudes of life.

The life experience that really "ordained" me into meditation in a real way - sort of my point of no return - was 7 yrs ago when I experienced a life threatening situation (always takes a crisis for us wandering humans!) where I was on the edge of not accessing my vital breath. It was such a direct message from the universe, it penetrated to my very core and exposed a fundamental unconscious fear(of dying) not usually available to ordinary consciousness. Imagine how it must feel not to be able to breathe! You're somewhere between breathing in and breathing out and fully conscious....

Around that same time I came across Joseph Goldstein's book "The Experience of Insight". He talked about using the breath as a meditation object which was perfect for me at the time. My appreciation and love for the simple act of breathing was immense so it was ok!

So I began the difficult discipline of meditation. I soon discovered that there was more than just the breath to deal with and the real challenge was in integrating the practice into daily life! As I recall, when I began in earnest, I could meditate a maximum of 10 minutes at a time! It was a killer, and I thought at times a bit dumb - however, there seemed to be some benefit and there didn't seem to be too much to lose. And I figured if a lot of wise people before me found it to be a useful tool, then, I should at least persist! The more meditation I did the more I came to appreciate its profound benefits. And in the course of sitting and integrating it into daily life, I found a mind and heart unfolding that had been unmanifest for some time and I started to feel that inner happiness and peace I had yearned for for most of my life.

Nowadays, I take time out every year for an intensive Vipassana and/or Metta retreat - usually up to 10 days, given by teachers from IMS (Insight Meditation Centre in Barre, USA) Meditation, complemented by the teachings of the Buddha is an integral part of my life; in fact, it is my life.

Meditation changes us but we remain the same. Try it, you might like it! But don't wait for that one last breath!

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