I learned to meditate while riding on a train.
I had tried sitting mediation alone and with others, but was successful only once, and I really don’t know what I was doing. I was following a guru – a 15-year-old teacher from India — before I had turned 30 and I mingled with aspirants in an ashram in Philadelphia. I never touched Nirvana or reached the level that others seemed to rise to.
But many years later, I found myself on the train discarding the newspaper and keeping my files in the brief case in order to simply close my eyes and be in the moment. That moment stretched to the 25-minute period it took to get from home to my place of work.
It was well worth it. You see, my wife had suffered a traumatic brain injury and I was helping her as the principle care-giver. My son was 15-years-old and I took on the role of a single parent, attending parent-teacher nights and seeing that he finished his studies to eventually graduate from high school.Work of course was work.
It wasn’t easy, and I guess that is why I sought some ‘escape” on the train.After closing my eyes, I’d listen to the wheels on the track as it pulled out from home enroute to the next stop. I’d “feel” the presence of other passengers who might sit next to me on the three-man seat. I let all thoughts go.
You got that? I stopped thinking. I surrendered to the stillness inside and cast aside worries about my wife, my kid and my job. For those precious moments on the train I simply went without by going within.
I began to notice a “cocoon-type” of feeling surround me. It safeguarded me from everything outside and I rested in silence. It was breath-taking! I felt warm and completely satisfied, as opposed to being unsatisfied with what the universe had dealt me.
Something happened that seemed to carry over when I got to work. I’d appear in court and feel compassion for the families who came to support their loved one arrested and put into jail. As a public defender, I’d offer them advice about the judge and would explain the criminal justice system. They were grateful and it calmed some of their concerns.
More importantly, I felt comforted offering this compassion. I guess I needed to feel that compassion for myself. I don’t think I’d have offered it to me had I not meditated on the train earlier.
I had not studied Buddhism or any methods like mindfulness. I simply went inside and let my breathing take over. Years later, I’d learn the proper way of sitting and many of the reasons why meditation was good for me. I kind of learned it on my own when I had given up on getting happiness in my life. The train pulled me through the dark tunnel and I found that I had arrived in the Light on the other side .
Anyone can do it. You don’t need no ticket. You just “get on board.” The next train is waiting for you!
I think I try to hard & judge myself too harshly. My past karmas have been so bad that meditating, for the most part m, has not been pleasant. But I keep plugging along. I call it “Being cradled in Hell” as I feel cared for amid the excruciating pain. Love u michael j. Thanks for being here.
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When you meditate, try to let the unpleasantness drift away. I tend to focus on the face of a woman that I feel love towards. Although I won’t act on that feeling, it brings me a blessed feeling of love and cherish meant.
I stay focused on that feeling and not the woman.
Love allows me to Forget any unpleasantness.
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I enjoyed reaching this, Michael. After purchasing an Apple Watch a month ago, I’ve noticed that the only time I pay attention to it is when it tells me to get up and move. It also has a meditation feature (it’s a very brief feature) that tells you to stop and breathe for a while. I paid attention to it the first couple of times, but ever since have never been able to find the time to do it.
Correction: never made the time. Subtle but important distinction. The time is there, I just have to prioritize it. So thank you for the very healthy prompt you provided with this blog.
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It is so good to hear from you again my good friend. Two things I learned from a mindfulness meditation teacher. One, don’t try. And two, don’t judge.
After a while it becomes much easier to simply ease into a meditative state. It is a state of peace and calm and one I’d like to be in as much as possible on a daily basis.
I hope to stay in touch. And I’ll talk to you later.