So, once you achieve enlightenment, you don’t have to meditate anymore, right?




When I first stopped drinking alcoholically 7 years ago, I engaged in a
process of change that was reported to bring about a “spiritual awakening,” to put
me in touch with a Higher Power of my own understanding that would, it was also
reported, solve all my problems.
I asked a group of these people who had experience with this
change process the following question: So, once I have a spiritual awakening, I can drink normally, right?
The group laughed, I didn’t quite understand why—I thought
it was a legitimate question—and eventually I read and began to understand why:
“Commencing to drink after a period of sobriety, we are in a short time as bad
as ever.”
You can’t turn a pickle back into a cucumber.
This weekend, I went to Harbin Hot Springs with a group of
girl friends. It was my first time to this “clothing optional” new-agey camping
resort, and my friend recommended that I get a massage while I was up there.
So, on Thursday night, I trolled through their offerings, and came across
something called an “Amanae” treatment. … This was not a massage. It is,
according to their publicity, a “spiritual, emotional bodywork release,” the
intention of which is to let go of stored emotions in the body through the use
of breath and a bit of “laying on of hands.”
On Saturday morning, as soon as I arrived, I went straight
to my appointment. I laid on a massage table, the flowy-dressed, Australian(?)-accented woman put her hand over my heart, and thus proceeded an hour of on and
off bawling and crying.
Let me say again, this was not a massage! But, whatever it was, things happened. Thoughts came up,
and my throat would start to burn and she’d put her hand there without me
telling her so. Her finger would press into my heart, and like juicing a
citrus, out would pour tears. It was weird, but totally my kind of weird.
Thoughts came up about my father, about my work, about
cancer. About G-d. The Why’s and the pain and the agony and the grief and the
confusion and the frustration and the betrayal. All of it came up and, luckily,
I am again engaged in the specific process of change I began
7 years ago, and am again at a part about release, forgiveness, softness,
letting go, and acceptance. I did more writing up there at Harbin, and on the
last day, I asked my friends if they wanted to write down those things they wanted
to release, to leave here on that (purportedly) sacred ground, and to write
those things they wanted to embrace. Then, we’d go up to a vista spot, and bury
So, we did.
I put into the ground the things I want to let go, stop
spinning about, beating myself up over, as well as those things I want to bring
closer to me, to my experience, to my belief. I buried both, because neither of
these are up to me—whether that which I release is really eased, or that which
I want to call in (or call forth) will be. It ends up as G-d’s poker hand,
getting to hold or fold whatever “he” wants.
That said, through all of the writing I’ve done lately, that
crazy ass non-massage, and simply a lot of intention setting and reminders on
my phone(!), I feel a little—maybe even a lot—lighter. I feel a little more at
peace and ease. When the thoughts about my career or dad have come up since, I don’t
feel as much angst about them.
And here’s the kicker. 
On Friday night I did a meditation
around individuation from my father, about asking him to forgive me for not
being able to fix those things he thinks wrong with his life, and for any
failings or shortcomings he may think I have. I told him, in meditation, that I
forgive him for his inability to fix that which I believe is wrong with my
life, and forgive him the failings and shortcomings I think he has.
I did a bunch of writing in response to some questions in
this book I have, and saw more and again how he was formed in this world, and
his own trials that led him to the behavior and mindset that he has. I saw a
primary “fault” of his as his unwillingness to forgive his own step-father for
being unavailable. I saw that as my own.
As I was driving back from Harbin last night, in pinged all
the texts that got lost in no-reception land. One was from my father.
My grandfather, his step-dad, died on Saturday night.
My dad told me when he came to see me when I was first
diagnosed in September that he was finally finding forgiveness around his own
father. My skepticism aside, I was glad to hear that he even saw his lack of
compassion and was finding his own version of it.
So, I texted my father back. I was sorry for his loss, and
so very glad he was able to find some peace with his step-father while he was
still alive.
Who knows. Who knows what this means, if anything, for my
own relationship with my dad. Who knows if my own work, my own realizations and
shifting, and (final?) grieving around my hurt by him created the space that Ed
needed to pass on. Who knows if that timely a communication was related in any
way, following the requested months of silence between my father and me.
But I felt ease around composing my reply, around offering
him the kindness of information that I’d been away and hadn’t received his text
‘til then. I questioned whether I was being co-dependent, whether he needed to
know I’d been away, whether my intention was to ensure he wasn’t going to be angry with
me for my delay. But, in the end, I decided it was a kind thing to do. It was his
father, the only one he’d ever known.
With my obvious
increased enlightenment and equanimity around my relationships that I’ve
obviously attained over the last several days, the question
came this morning as I heated up my coffee — do I still need to meditate?
Well, I’ll leave that up to you to decide. 😉 

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