It’s often only with hindsight that we become aware of the profound importance of a singular event in our lives. When I was in high school, a couple of guys with crewcuts and sports jackets—looking wildly out of place amidst the sea of macramé and bellbottom jeans—showed up on my high school campus to give a talk about meditation. Their talk promised less stress, more focus, and a path to achievement. I learned to meditate.
In the following years, I continued to meditate in challenging times, to get me through a rough patch, and it always served to center, calm and ground me, but in the late 1990s, after a series of jarring events in my life, I returned to a daily practice. Meditation became my island of serenity in a daily sea of stress, then surprisingly, so much more than that. I began to understand my part in the events that had rocked my world. I began to understand how my past choices created my present situation. I became more open, more understanding and less judgmental, first of others, then slowly, of myself (still working on that 😉). My life began to improve despite serious challenges along the way (that’s life), most importantly, to improve in ways that I chose.
I realized that the world had not changed, but my outlook had, and that changed my life radically for the better. As my internal environment improved, so did my external environment. In time, I became aware that I had an inner sensation of joy and serenity that was ever present, no matter what difficulties I encountered—and as a single parent, there were many.
Looking back, had I not been on campus that day, and run into the two military-looking meditation teachers, my life might be very different now. Rather than dwell on that, whenever I think that I “don’t have time” to meditate, I remind myself that this is my gift to myself.
I meditate because meditation
· enhances my health
· creates inner calm
· brings me clarity
· offers answers to my questions
· leads me to a well of inner strength from which I draw at will and in great quantity
· removes judgment and replaces it with compassion
· offers me a window to my soul.
Meditation has made me a better friend, parent, person. Through meditation I’ve come to the reassuring knowledge that joy and serenity can coexist with the chaos.