When I was a young child I took some clay
and with my hands I molded a Buddha statue. My mother got
some glazes for me, which I applied- red to the Buddha's
body and brown for his robe. My mother had it fired in a
kiln for me and I still have it today. I say this because in
the telling of my background in Buddhism, the younger part
of me wants to be included.
I had no real exposure to Buddhism until
ten years ago when I attended a Dharma talk at the
invitation of a friend who was in my yoga and Tai-chi class.
This talk greatly impressed me. I felt I had come across a
source of great wisdom, so I started to read books to find
out more about it. A few months later I met a meditation
teacher with whom I did a four-day retreat, then another
twelve-day retreat a month after that.
After this meditation I began to unravel,
so to speak. There was so much that I had previously been
unconscious to. I had been in kind of a numb, frozen state,
and the meditation seemed to be melting me into being.
I carried on with several weeklong
retreats over the next few years, until eventually my
circumstances were such that I could have a steady daily
practice. It seemed that for me, working full time and
functioning well enough on the outside created a container
for me to go more deeply inside.
So it was three and a half years ago that
the emotions and memories really began to come through. It
was a very intense period- I think I cried almost everyday
for 3 years. I had so much anger, grief, and despair. I
would feel hopeless and at times desperate.
This outpouring of feeling that I had
previously carried inside, had little to do with my outer
circumstances, although it wasn't easy to see this at the
time. Eventually the intensity diminished and I was feeling
much happier. But I still had a cycle of negative thinking
that could spiral me down into the depths of despair. I was
gaining more awareness of this pattern since I had many
occasions to watch it repeating itself over and over like a
broken record or like watching the same old movie again and
Last year when Christmas was approaching,
I thought I just couldn't go through another painful holiday
like I had in the past three years. I didn't want to get
involved in all my thoughts of how alone I was and therefore
how unlovable I must be. I knew part of my pattern was to
look to the outer world for the answers, for somebody out
there to save me- to love me. I knew that somehow I needed
to find this love and peace inside. Highly motivated, I
decided to do a meditation retreat over the holidays.
I looked into retreats at various
meditation centers and they were either full or just didn't
feel right. Somehow the idea of doing a solitary retreat in
my own home seemed to feel right and that is what I did.
During the period before the retreat I noticed how happy I
was in planning my schedule and making preparations.
Recommended by my meditation teacher, I did the
Avalokitesvara meditation practice. This entails
visualization of the Bodhisattva, prayer, and recitation of
the mantra Om Mani Padme Hurn. I recited 179,750 counted
mantras in 21 days, alternating one hour sitting and one
hour walking practice from morning until bedtime. To my
surprise I went through many states of consciousness,
gaining more clarity and calm without experiencing any of
the painful emotion I had been used to.
This recent retreat has been incredibly
healing for me. I feel this to be a turning point in my life
as I continue to be in a much more peaceful and happy state.
When I reflect on this healing journey, I
feel so much overwhelming gratitude that it hurts. I know
that this will ease through continuing to develop more
compassion and helping others as I have been helped along. I
am in wonder of the Dharma and I know now that it is real.