Thought I was dying Monday morning.
Just finished eating a plateful of scrambled eggs, bacon and home fries, topped off with a honey bun, and had started in on a second cup of coffee when: “BAM.”
Got a double dose of something wonderfully beautiful and frighteningly bad.
Moments earlier, I had closed my eyes, letting go all thoughts, as I eased into the meditative state I often find sitting in the IKEA restaurant in my home town, Conshohocken, PA. I sit facing a wall of windows, some 40 to 50 feet high and five or six times that length. No one sees my face . I shut my eyes and commune with the “nothingness” that soothe and elevates the Spirit.
I reach that state immediately. Unfortunately, I think the bacon I had eaten had reached a state of its own. Heartburn. At least, I hope it’s heartburn and nothing more serious. How can I explain it? You ever feel yourself “blacking” out after rising too quickly from a squatting position? How about leaning over to get something beneath a desk and then sitting straight up? All the blood goes to your head, and for a moment, you see “gray.” Some may even call it “seeing stars,” a fuzzy field of blotches right behind the closed eyelids. You get dizzy. Lose track of time and place. Feel mild panic, believing it will soon go away, but not totally sure.
Now, throw in a tightness in the chest. One of those Gerd attacks. If you have acid reflux problems, you know what I mean. Feels like a fist is balling up inside, right in the chest area, scaring the daylights out of you because, if you’re like me, you think it could be the onset of a heart attack. I remember the first time this happened. Got a co-worker, Mary DeFusco, to take me to the emergency room with my then 18-month old son, Nicholas. (He’s 18 years old now.) Rested after seeing several doctors and a diaper change for Nick. Got really mad months later when my insurance carrier kept trying to say I had no emergency situation, but only indigestion. Fought like hell to make them see it was an emergency, and finally won.
But on Monday, I feel “high” from being in a Spiritual Zone and “low” from the pain in my chest. Worse yet, is the heart beat. Never felt it beat so fast for such a long period. I mean, hefty, rock-the-boat type beats, which shake my hand as I pick up a cup and see liquid shaking inside.
Mini-earthquakes are erupting inside of me, one frightening heart beat after another. I discard my coffee cup. Sit back and try to meditate. Trouble is, I’m already at the highest levels already! I’m engaged with Nirvana, similar to the “wakeful meditation” I felt while listening with eyes closed to a Dr. Michael Laitman speaking about the mysteries of the Kabbalah less than 48 hours earlier. I’m deep into a calming state of total awareness with no troubling thoughts or desires.
Except for the nagging feeling that I am dying.
Get hold of yourself, Michael. Relax. No, don’t relax. Get up, move around. Drink some water. Yeah, that’s the ticket. A little water. Feel better? Heart beating just as fast? OK, well let’s take a walk. Go to the rest room. I don’t care if you “don’t have to go.” Sit on the toilet anyway. And wait.
Which I did. And waited, and waited. And thought of Elvis Presley . . . Judy Garland . . . You don’t want to end up like them, I tell myself. They died while sitting on the throne, didn’t they? Both were found slumped on the toilet seat. What a rotten way to be thought of after having such wonderful careers. Dying in such a humiliating position.
Hell, if they’re going to find my body, let ’em find it somewhere else, I tell myself. And I clear out, taking my troubles on the road. Literally. What better way to chase away such debilitating feelings, then to get into the car, drive someplace familiar. And shop until you drop!
Went to ALDI, the discount supermarket in nearby Norristown, some 20 miles outside Philadelphia. Loaded a cart with goodies. Few if any were actually for myself. All for my family. Hey, what use would food be to a dead man?
Meandering through the store, comparing prices and talking with shoppers and store clerks, I begin to notice something. I’m still “high” from the earlier spiritual lift, but the heartburn is subsiding. So is the creepy pounding of my heart. Edgar Allen Poe, my fellow Philadelphia resident, eat your “Tell Tale” heart out. I’m cured!
It had to have been the bacon. Should have chewed it more. But, I had already consumed it “meditatively,” chewing each bite more than 100 times. That’s the Zen Buddhist tip I picked up at Omega Institute to be more “in the moment” while eating alone. Supposed to help digesting food as well as bringing you peace.
So, it had to have been the spiritual activity. Got too much. Took too many bites of “God” and my small mammalian frame could not contain so much of Him. (See: weekend-euphoria-needs-time-to-set, and accident-leads-to-a-fowl-self-discovery). You really do have to be “empty” in order for Him to fill you. Should have paced myself over the weekend, perhaps cut back on some of my consciousness-rasing efforts. Too much of a good thing, could be too much.
Until the next time, when I’ll simply hang a sign around my neck, advising all that the soul inside of me has happily departed for a higher world, and they could do with what they like the remaining torso. Spirituality will trump the “corporeality” every time!