I recently taught a workshop in Houston. Many of those in attendance worked at NASA as flight directors and operation specialists for the International Space Station.
After the workshop, I asked them, “What did you think of the movie Gravity?”
If you’ve yet to see Gravity, it’s the story of three astronauts on a spacewalk that goes terribly wrong.
One NASA specialist told me, “I couldn’t watch. So stressful. My worst nightmare. Why would I want to see that on my free time?”
Another told me, “Meh, too much of it was unbelievable. But they did a good job recreating the interior of the space station. That was cool!”
The reviews were mixed but the conversation led to their telling me about a true and horrifying event that took place this past summer. Oddly enough, almost nobody in America heard about it.
In August, Italian astronaut Luca Parmitano was on a spacewalk outside the Space Station.
He suddenly felt a liquid leaking into his space suit.
A few moments later, the liquid began to engulf his helmet. Then, it got into his ears making it impossible to hear.
And just as the sun dropped beyond the earth’s horizon, the liquid covered his eyes effectively blinding Parmitano.
Parmitano didn’t know if his next breath would be his last. With just seconds remaining, he remembered that his safety cable had a recoil mechanism.
He yanked hard on the safety cable, and it dragged him back to the Space Station’s airlock.
Another astronaut frantically helped Parmitano into the space station where he removed his helmet and gasped for oxygen.
George Clooney could not have done it any better than Luca Parmitano.
Maybe you can relate to this sense of crisis.
So many of us live each day feeling health, money, and stress closing in on us.
This is just the moment when we need to remember our recoil mechanism. We all have one.
But for most of us, myself included, forget.
And we keep going, grinding, wondering…what can I do to get out of this mess?
There is a word floating out there, and for certain Type A personalities, just saying this word can cause shakes and convulsions.
This word evokes feelings of mental anguish.
This word has been known to cause children to hide and grown men to run when asked by the lady of the house:
“Will you meditate with me?”
Yes that’s the word: meditation.
Many are interested, curious about it. But it’s something for the future. Not today.
If you could have sex today, would you? If you could have indulge in gnocchi pomodoro today, would you? If you could eat a buttermilk banana pudding chocolate truffle today, would you?
Meditation is sex, gnocchi, and chocolate on a black sand beach while watching the sunset and getting a foot massage.
Yes, once you break through, meditation is amazing.
But more importantly, meditation is the ultimate recoil mechanism, and no matter how bad your day, how achey your body, how stressful your job…
…when you learn how to yank on that “safety cable” and drop into the lush landscape of your inner world, everything changes.
You become the wisdom beyond thought…you seek freedom for life (not from it)…you flow with the changes, make peace with the weather, awaken to the miracles.
Some of you reading this are already meditation experts and this is like selling an ice cold Corona to a sommelier…I get it. You do it. All the power to you.
But most of the world doesn’t meditate.
And until we learn to harness the power of our minds, we will continue to feel like Luca Parmitano, spinning, searching, grasping…
As Lao Tzu told us, “To the mind that is still, the whole universe surrenders.”
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