Updated: Oct 13
I first heard about Buddhism in the early 70's, while living in Edmonton.
My husband was encouraged by a friend to attend a meditation training. I was too busy with medical school to participate. My husband wasn't motivated to continue meditating after the initial training. Twenty years later, an introductory workshop was offered in Buddhist meditation at the yoga studio in Calgary where I was taking classes. I was curious. So I attended.
We sat in a circle and slowly ate 3 grapes mindfully. Yes, they were delicious. Then, after a little instruction, we closed our eyes and did breath meditation for 10 minutes. With nothing to occupy my mind except the subtle breath, it went beserk. I wanted to run, screaming, out of the room.
I had never sat still with nothing to distract me, ever before in my life. I saw myself as a well adjusted, happy individual. But until that moment, I never realized how frantically I'd been living my life. I was always doing 2 - 3 things at once: knitting while reading and watching the TV, or sweeping the floor with the radio on and planning what I was going to do next, or, in my career as a psychiatrist, listening to one of my patients while debating their diagnosis and treatment strategy in my mind.
To sit, silently, just watching my breath, introduced me to my frantic mind.
Thankfully, the next activity at the workshop was walking meditation. My mind became fully occupied by focusing on the raising and moving and lowering of my feet. The agitation I felt during the breath meditation instantly disappeared. I felt like a ballerina, floating along the walking path.
So, back to back, I met my frantic mind AND discovered a way to calm it.
After the meditation workshop, I experimented with being fully present with my patients. Listening 100%, with no inner planning. I was astonished, after their story was finished, that the diagnosis and treatment plan just popped, fully formed, into my head. So, there had been no need to do all that thinking while trying to listen.
It was so much more relaxing to just listen. And I'm sure my patients felt more listened to.