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The Place


“That’s what you’re going to find out!” she replied. “When the next thought or idea interrupts you, stop what
you’re doing, and find a place to sit quietly. While you’re sitting there, I want you to close your eyes.
“I want you to do your best to feel what’s happening,” she continued. “In order to understand it, you need to
identify what’s different about it. Tune out everything except the thought that made its way through.” She
paused for a moment and then said, “By the way, it’s not the thought we’re interested in, but the reason and the
place from which it comes.”
What she said made perfect sense to me. I had been making the thought the focus of my search, when all this
time perhaps it was the reason for the thought that was creating my anxiety.
“Once you get to know the feeling, become familiar with it,” she said, “and don’t be afraid of what you
might experience.”
She then looked directly at me. “Do you think you can do that?” she asked.
“I think so,” I replied, “unless I’m on the field during practice. I don’t think the coach would find my asking
for private time too amusing.”
She smiled. “You know what I mean. Can you do that?”
“I’ll give it my best shot,” I replied. I thanked her and left her office. Little did I know her advice would
become the most important piece of the puzzle to date. This was actually my first introduction to meditation.
It wouldn’t take long for me to test out her theory. A week later, I decided to take a break from cafeteria food
and visited the local burger joint. On the way back, I was thinking about all the things I needed to do before
heading home for the holidays. Suddenly, an idea came out of nowhere. The girl I’d been dating was on an
exchange program in France for the year, and I’d not heard from her for some time. It was not unusual since
calling was expensive and finding time to write between studying and getting to know the culture would be
difficult at best. I smiled for a moment, thinking about how she was and what she was doing.
I went into my room and closed the door. I thought this was the perfect opportunity to give the new theory a
try. I sat down on my bed and closed my eyes. I was completely relaxed, but I was interrupted several minutes
later by someone in the dorm yelling about a phone call. I remained seated and continued to relax as best I
could. At first, a million thoughts raced through my mind, but as I became more relaxed, the thoughts became
less distracting. I was beginning to realize a quiet calm within myself I had not experienced before. The
distractions around me seemed to fall by the wayside, one by one.
I found myself beginning to realize how I was feeling, no longer concerning myself with what I was
thinking. I came to learn that this would be the key to my eventual understanding. I stopped pushing for answers
and simply waited to experience them as they came to me. I knew one thing for certain: I had no control over
any of this. I became aware that the more I let things be, the more comfortable I became.
It was like what I felt at the lake those many years ago. When I let go of the internal struggle, along with the
panic and the fear, I became open to what the voice was saying and not concerned with who was behind the
voice. Only then was I able to do what was necessary to save Bob’s life. This was no different. I was beginning
to understand, even though it seemed just the opposite of what I had been asked to do: let go of the idea, and
look for the reason it was happening, as well as the source.
As I moved forward in my experience, I found myself wondering why I didn’t understand this until now. Of
course, I said to myself, I was just a kid! Distractions are what being a kid is all about—experiencing and living
in the absolute moment.
Yet things were different now that I was older. Life was less about distractions and more about
understanding. It was about harnessing one’s thoughts, enabling the mind to focus. These thoughts occurred in a
matter of moments.
I now realized why Mrs. Warren wanted me to relax: in relaxation there are fewer distractions, allowing
understanding to emerge. Suddenly, I remembered the words from a song by Kris Kristofferson: “Freedom’s
just another word for nothing left to lose.” I was experiencing my own freedom.
I was discovering the gift it was, and all I had to do was slow down enough to understand it. I felt for the
very first time that I was on a path to uncovering answers. As I continued to contemplate the words to that song,
I was reminded of a book I read that spoke of a slave who discovered his own freedom in the last place he
expected to find itwithin himself. It was a place that offered answers beyond any other understanding. I
needed to find this Place since I knew it held the answers to my questions.
It was the sixties, a time of freedom of thought and action. I felt I was just beginning my quest. While I
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