Giving and Taking- Part Three of Three
by Robert Tanner
A couple of frantic minutes later, the noise in my mind was interrupted by Leigh’s soothing voice. By concentrating on her words, I was able to re‐focus my thoughts and get back to the task at hand. She had us focus on a loved one that was sick or in need of help. With every inhale, we were to take in their suffering and with every exhale, concentrate on giving out love, hope, and understanding. As my son was sick that day, I envisioned taking away his suffering with every breath in, and with every exhale, sending him love and wellness. A few moments later, I began the same process, but focused on the parents of my fallen brothers. With every inhale, I imagined taking away the pain they felt from losing their sons, and with every exhale, sent them my love and understanding.
However, it only took a few more breaths before my mind went nuts again. I was trying so hard to concentrate but kept failing. Finally, Leigh Anne guided us to come out of our meditative state. All I could think about as I came back to full awareness was how completely I had failed at meditation. I was disappointed because I thought I would only heal if I were able to concentrate the whole time.
But then, I realized that I had completely lost track of time as we were meditating. What had felt like ten minutes had actually been a full half hour. Also, I noted with surprise that I felt different, almost airy. My senses seemed more attuned, as if I could hear things better, could really feel each step I took. Everything looked lighter, as if it were emitting some kind of aura. As I was pulled out of the parking lot, the world seemed a little bit clearer.
It’s been nearly two weeks now and I find myself using Tonglen almost daily. In tense situations, I focus on my breathing and my surroundings. With each breath, I concentrate on the cause of the tension and why it brings me suffering, and with each exhale, I bring to mind thoughts of happiness and healing. I do the same when I feel the guilt start to creep in. I focus on the cause of my guilt, the suffering of the families and friends, and when I exhale, I try to extend my thoughts of happiness to them, in hopes that I can in some way help them to heal as well.
I went into this experience somewhat skeptical but with an open mind. I can say with all my heart that I am truly convinced that there are ways other than medication to heal. Things seem to be looking up. Maybe meditation is my calling after all.
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