May 24, 2013

Can the Journey Be the Path?

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 Week 6: Share My Path Series.

Many times finding your individual path requires exploration; spirituality, practice, is not  one-size-fits-all. This week the Share My Path Project  features Brian. His path is a reminder that though there may be difficulties and off-shoots along the way, we need not allow these hindrances to sway us. And if they do, perhaps it’ s a blessing in disguise.

A long time suffer of ADD—what Brian jokingly tells me was called distracted and under-performing in the 70s—he first  found focus staring at Mt. Shasta or down the shaft of an arrow.

It was in these moments where he “found his breath and his mind would settle.”

When those methods began to fail him, he turned to other ways: marijuana and alcohol. “With plenty of that I felt plenty distracted from the noise,” he told me.

Fast forward to Brian’s 30s:  a family, a stressful but satisfying career, still drinking regularly and a marriage on the rocks.

Intuitively he knew something had to change.

“I needed the stillness once again. That stillness it took to focus on the target as I peered down the shaft of a freshly knocked and drawn arrow. The Japanese call it Mushin (the pause between cause and effect),” he shares.

Meanwhile, his marriage crashed. He followed. The stillness came from a bottle. And then that broke too.

In rehab Brian recalled teachings he’d stumbled on via his martial arts practice. “I was able for the first time ever to simply sit quietly and breathe,” he told me.

 “Rehab was a whole month of opportunities to find inner peace.”

After rehab Brian recommitted to QiGong class. His new practice served him well and he began to learn Earth Meditation practice (a set of warm up and ending exercises with 20 or so minutes of silent meditation in between) and adapt Thich Naht Hahn’s walking meditation into his routine; learning to walk and move with mindfulness, compassion and soft breath.

And then along came yoga and yoga teacher training. Brian, still seeking to calm his own mind, now sought to aid others in their search.  This was followed up by his becoming a Reiki Master. 

“The act of energy healing has always taken me into a state of communal meditation with a client, which leads me into a vivid experience rather than the solitude I’d become used to.”

Brian’s path is one filled with seeking and learning.

“That’s the lovely thing really, the act of communion and mystery, the presence with self and “God”, he tells me, it “sends me searching for more answers.”

“What I’ve learned and teach,” he shares, “is that meditation is a dynamic practice. Much like golf, there can be a special club for each shot!”

Brian wished to close with a quote: one he so strongly relates to that it can be found in ink on his body, “…even a little practice of this inward religion can spare one from dyer fears and colossal sufferings” (‘Bhagavad Gita’, 23rd chapter).

Brian’s path is a firm reminder that we need not always be committed to one way; perhaps our own path requires a few offshoots. Explore: take a moment and meditate outside; go to a park and do your yoga routine; pick up a book on something you’ve always wondered about. 

We’ll be hearing more from Brian in the future. He’s agreed to write a mid-week  special edition piece for the Share My Path project where he’ll speak to his work with the Children’s Om Project.


Share My Path would love to feature your path! e-mail us

Share My Path is an archival experiment seeking to build a repository of the paths taken by practitioners of meditation and is hosted here at elephant journal. If you’d like to have your path featured and made part of the archive please e-mail or find us here for more information. Your time will be rewarded in knowing you’ve shared with others and perhaps helped someone find their path.

 Last weeks installment of Share My Path: Week 5

A list of all previous weeks: Share My Path

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Ed: Kate Bartolotta


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