‘All of us instinctively want to be happy, but all too often, lasting happiness eludes us. We may cherish an exquisite afternoon, try a new recipe to great success, or dare to imagine a better day, but a steady feeling of self-worth, inner strength, and genuine connection may seem unattainable. No matter what our circumstance, a daily mindfulness meditation practice can help us recognize the potential for true happiness that is within our grasp. In my more than four decades teaching, I have witnessed again and again how meditation transforms lives. It reduces our stress, focuses us, grounds us, connects us to ourselves, and gives us a sense of purpose. Meditation was my path out of fragmentation and emotional pain. By the time I left for college at age sixteen, I’d lived in five different households. Each move was precipitated by the death of one of my family members or some kind of traumatic event. I felt alone and didn’t know how I could be happy in life, but deep within me I believed it was possible.
In college, I took an Asian philosophy course, which introduced me to meditation. The possibility of not just studying about meditation in the abstract, but actually experimenting with it and putting it into practice drew me like a magnet. I created a project and proposed that I go to India to study meditation. The university’s independent studies program approved the proposal, and I arrived in India in the fall of 1970.
One of the first things I discovered was that meditation wasn’t as exotic or mystical as I’d expected—no magical set of instructions delivered in a darkened chamber with a supernatural aura. Instead, my teacher launched my practice with the words “Sit comfortably and feel your breath.” Feel my breath? I thought in protest. I could have stayed in Buffalo to feel my breath!
Over time, I learned how to place my punishing self- judgments in the broader context of the fullness of my life. I saw how every moment contains so many shades of meaning. I understood that learning to slow down, to attend to each breath as it arises and passes—and ultimately to attend to each moment and each encounter in the same way—establishes a sustainable form of happiness that naturally springs from living an authentic life. Through meditation I found the bright vein of goodness that existed as a constant potential within me. As I grew to trust it, I saw that potential more clearly in the world around me. I realized that this ever-present potential was where true happiness resided.’ (from Instagram)