On meditation & resilience (December 8, 2016)

On Dec. 8, 2014 I asked my Art of Living family to help hold me accountable for maintaining a daily meditation practice, and they did so. Yesterday marked two years without missing a day.

This past year has been difficult. My stepdad, Bill, was diagnosed with brain cancer in May and died in October. Meditation, in those intervening months, happened in uncomfortable chairs in emergency rooms, and in hospital chapels. It happened near other people who were weeping for reasons of their own. It happened quietly, in an adjacent room, while Bill was sleeping. It happened in silence, early in the morning or late at night, crammed in where I could fit it. It happened despite panic beating at my heart, despair clutching at my throat. As it became clear that Bill would die, and that he would die quickly, meditation happened like desperate prayer. It never dulled the emotion, but it made it possible to carry on. It smoothed the jagged edges.

Brain cancer is terrifying in ways I had never thought about. Watching one of my beloved parents suffer loss–the loss of abilities, the loss of hope, the loss of a future he had dreamed about and planned for–is painful. Watching my mother and my siblings navigate this path has been painful. In many ways I feel diminished and confused; my heart is broken. I don’t understand what life looks like without Bill in it–without him here beside us, on the physical plane.

And yet, that’s the job we have now–to figure out what life looks like on the other side of this experience, at the beginning of a new journey. In the end what will remain most true is that Bill was here, and he was ours, and we loved him. We’re better people because of him, and our lives are richer because of him.

One day the truth and the beauty of my love for Bill, and of his love for all of us, truly will outweigh the grief that I feel submerged under. Until that day, I will keep breathing–keep meditating. And meditation will continue to smoothe the jagged edges.

Jai gurudev.