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Lions Roar : January 2017
recovery, it was from working the Twelve Steps with a sponsor. The the- istic model of the program never felt quite right to me, but I was desperate and ready for a solution. I was told by others in the program that if I didn’t believe in a higher power myself, I could simply “believe that they believed,” and that would be enough. I did believe that they believed in a higher power, and it was enough, eventually, for me to let my guard down and surrender. I surren- dered myself to unknowing and allowed the moment—and the breath—to move through me. Some part of me was untouched by my painful feelings and thoughts. Some part of me was already, naturally free. Now I have returned to meditation and cultivated a deeper and more aware practice of noticing the breath. I have spent many hours sitting on my medita- tion cushion, focusing on the edge of my nostrils as the breath enters and JOANNEARNOLD exits my body. When I find myself mired in thoughts, I have practiced noticing them without judgment. Instead, I label them simply as “thinking,” and bring my awareness back to the breath. As time has gone on, I have made friends with myself in a more natural and open way. My breath has become my refuge when I find myself spinning out in cyclical thinking, both in my daily life and on the meditation cushion. I have discovered that if I rest on the breath without resisting my thoughts, it will usually bring me to a greater state of peace. I still get caught up in struggle, plenty of times. This is a practice after all! Usu- ally, it’s due to a conflict between what I am experiencing and what I want to experience. There is resistance, and there- fore suffering. In these times, I contem- plate Buddha’s teachings on dependent origination and emptiness, and then I can allow whatever is arising, both inter- nally and externally, to simply be. I can breathe and open my heart. No matter what flavor of pain you may have known—and I have known a lot—or what suffering your past or pres- ent contains, healing is attainable. The key is literally under our nose at this very moment. May we each find the courage to notice and use our breath to unlock our potential—for the benefit of our- selves and all sentient beings. ♦ Siegel returned to meditation practice after her lasting recovery from addiction in the Twelve-Step Program. LION’S ROAR | JANUARY 2017 26 CULTURE • LIFE • PRACTICE