How several bullets and one death made me a believer in meditation.


The word conjures up images of hippies, people sitting in a weird position and beatific facial expressions.

It also pegs the B.S. meter of a lot of people.

I was one of those people. But here's the story (with a few details changed to keep things private) that made me a believer and played a huge role in getting me to try meditation -- and has kept me motivated to someday get good at it. (I tried for years, stopped, but I've just started again.)

Several years ago, "Sam", a friend of my Dad's was shot numerous times. Moments after the gun shots rang out and silence once again descended upon the room, "Sam", to his profound surprise, noticed he was still alive but his assailant, having saved the the last bullet for personal use, was not. He summoned his last remnants of strength to get to the phone and dial 911. 

When Sam arrived at the hospital, he was barely hanging on and slipped into a coma. He awoke days later -- maybe it was weeks or months, I'm not sure -- to constant and excruciating pain in his legs. The doctors told him there was nothing they could do because Sam's spinal cord was severed and the pain was purely the work of his mind. He could not feel his legs.

As he got better, Sam used his not-inconsiderable wealth and connections to seek out the world's best medical experts to help him get some sort of relief. He traveled the world to no avail and was about to give up hope when he was introduced to meditation by a friend of the Dalai Lama's. There were some false starts but ultimately Sam discovered that he could enjoy a few pain-free hours during and for a bit of time after meditating. Nothing else had worked. No pain pill or shot or experimental technology or even the healing power of time had made the slightest difference. But meditation made all the difference.

And that amazes me, that in this world where every day seems to bring some new sort of breakthrough into our lives, an ancient practice of a near-mythical figure would remain so powerful. But meditation is not easy. I have tried for years and cannot say I have every truly meditated. I've had little glimpses, mainly a loss of the sense of the passage of time, but all the ailments I'd hoped to cure, especially the constant feeling of lightheadedness caused by my brain injury back in 2006, remain. Still, I'm not giving up. With Sam's story, why would I?