Image for post

This article is also available as a narrated presentation by clicking here.

Whenever this finds you (or you find it), I promise that it’s a particularly good time for this discussion. Whether you’re unbalanced from personal relationships, family, elections, pandemics, natural disasters, or unfairness, there is a way to get through it that is exceedingly simple. Aldous Huxley, an English philosopher and writer, said “It’s a little embarrassing that after 45 years of research and study, the best advice I can give people is be a little kinder to each other.” Kindness and compassion are integral parts of most spiritual traditions. We’re taught that they’re good at an early age. Why do we forget about them in our daily life? …

Image for post
Image for post

As I turned the corner to enter the inn’s grounds, suddenly, a man confronted me and started screaming in my face. I was shocked and disoriented. I was minding my own business, plainly dressed and quiet, returning from an enjoyable sunset beach walk in quiet, family friendly vacation locale with my young kids and dog at my side. I didn’t have any political conversations. No hot takes. I wasn’t even sure his wrath was aimed at me.

As the verbal attacks escalated and threatened to become physical, the woman who accompanied the man tried to steer him away from me. He threw her to the ground, onto a bed of rocks. …

Image for post
Image for post

It can be overwhelming to think about the unfairness of life, the complexity of its problems, the impossibility of solutions, and the ignorance, irrationality, pettiness and selfishness of humans, myself included. But it helps to remember dhamma centers, places that make sense. Places that seem too good to be true. Unrealistic. A system, an environment, an organization, and a way of life that I would never believe to be true without first-hand experience.

At dhamma centers, anyone can take as many courses as they want as long as they’re willing to abide by very simple rules: stay quiet, disturb no one, and sit in the meditation hall during mandatory daily sessions without sleeping. …

Image for post
Image for post

As I write this, we’re currently going through the most universal crisis of our time. We’ve all been affected by COVID-19 and we’re all facing great uncertainty. If you’re reading this post-pandemic, congrats on surviving(!) and, as a bonus, this guide will still be useful.

While it’s not a panacea, I feel fortunate to possess the tool of meditation. The majority of my knowledge about meditation comes from courses taken from Dhamma.org. They require participants to give the technique a full try by completing a 10 day silent meditation course before moving to shorter (or even longer) courses. …

Image for post
Image for post

I ask for your patience because, if you’re at all like me, you will initially find this topic to be dopey and hokey. If someone sent me an article with “lovingkindness” in the title, I would smirk and then delete before opening. But this will only take five minutes to read and might actually prove to be helpful, so give it a shot.

Some of you might have read my narrative about a 10 day vipassana meditation course and/or going through a midlife crisis. …

Image for post
Image for post

This wasn’t planned. I’m a reader, not a writer. A critic, not a creator.

OK, I know how to write. I wrote a dissertation. I write a lot of emails to friends. I’m a master of writing acerbic histrionic yet somehow witty and charming complaints to customer service departments. But I never write for pleasure. Never for an audience. This feels different. Others might enjoy taking this ride with me. Or maybe the silence has already done a number on me?

Writing is forbidden where I am. But I see my nephew Kevin’s boarding pass on the bed of my partitioned room and something is scribbled on it. Kevin is attending a 10 day vipassana meditation course with me. He’s only 19 and is the youngest participant in the course. I wanted to do this alone but Kevin convinced me that he could do it and is such a pleasant kid that I couldn’t say no. It’s the night of day two of the course. I begin to read his scribbles. He’ll stay if I don’t want to leave but if I’m ready to go, tap him twice on the back at breakfast tomorrow morning and that will be the sign for us to get the hell out of here. We can take a Lyft to the airport an hour away or we can rent a car and drive it nine hours to St. Louis, our next destination. Anything. He’ll cover half of the extra transportation costs. I didn’t bring writing material because I wanted to follow every rule of the course to a T. But I find a pen someone else had left in my room and reply. And once I start writing, I can’t stop. I respond to Kevin, make a few quick notes about what has happened so far, and for the rest of the course, run back to my room to write observations. …

David Cohen

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store