Sharing a Personal Experience

Meditation and developing an Open Mind helps us relax, enjoy our experience of living, relating, and relieves our stress, anxiety and depression.

In this brief article, I am introducing some thoughts and observations about my meditation practice as a living experience. I also am including some quotations from Openness Mind by Tarthang Tulku. Professor Tulku has been a leader in the field of human development and while serving as a teacher in the profession of Social Work, I have extensively drawn on his books, methods and practices for my integrative health courses and workshops.

I am beginning to appreciate and become even more aware of these teachings and the meaning of an Open Mind now that I am experiencing arthritic pain in my body-mind during this past year. While turning 70 years of age, two years ago, I learned that I had some serious arthritis problems in my L4&5 vertebrae, left shoulder joints, knees and some other places. As we all know, pain in the body is also experienced in our mind and takes precedence over all other feelings, blurs our perceptions, affects our relations, and often prevents us from being as open, flexible, strong and balanced as we've been during our earlier life.

I also learned that I had a cancer lesion in my prostate gland and underwent surgery. I realize that most men, 75% or more over 65, will have prostate cancer. But, this isn't something we've planned for so it came as a shock to me, especially since I have maintained a daily health routine for most of my life. I chose to have my prostate gland removed because the other alternatives don't look so good either. I've even thought and meditated on the idea of just observing this cancer for awhile and wait and see how it changes. I now know I chose the right intervention as I am now two years older, going back to work full-time, and without any cancer cells in my body. Perhaps my worst fear was losing my vitality; however, my sex life is very fulfilling and as good as ever. It's good to know that our body-mind can restore itself even under the most challenging circumstances.

This brings me to the point of this discussion "Openness Mind" and meditation as introduced by Tarthang Tulku. The following excerpts may serve to assist others experiencing pain and surgery while learning to maintain an open mind. In his book, Openness Mind, Tarthang introduces us to meditation as an experience of living that can aid us in developing our whole being-physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. What follows is a brief response that I have with his guiding comments:

"How we live, what is happening in our lives, how we are affected by our experience-this is the ground of reality, and the source of spiritual awareness."(TT)

I remind myself that I am not my body, I am not my mind, I am not this pain. I observe my breathing and let everything inside and out become as one, with total acceptance.(JV)

"As our awareness develops, our entire frame of reference slowly becomes transformed. We see the interrelationships of thought and action, and consequently become more sensitive in our communication with others. Our observations penetrate to deeper levels-we discover how feelings are produced, and how thought functions. As our awareness deepens even further, we can even perceive the link between past, present, and future, and therefore learn to pattern our actions so that our lives are satisfied and fulfilled."(TT)

I am beginning to see how I respond, even before I react, to circumstances or persons that do not appear to be serving my best interests. (JV)

"When patience is strongly developed, awareness appears even from within our negativity's, and from that awareness come our meditation. We see that everything that occurs is a manifestation of energy, which itself is a form of our awareness, and we realize that all experience, each of the twenty-four hours of the day, is a part of the enlightenment nature."(TT)

Openness mind to me means that I am open to all that I experience without judgment or label. Seems that I am learning to become more open minded and especially enjoy life fully when playing and being as one with my grandchildren and other free spirits. And the pain no longer becomes the center of my universe. Everything and my entire experience is now my meditation.(JV)

"The dream and the waking states aren't so very different from each other. When we realize that all existence is like a dream, the gap between sleeping and waking no longer exists. Experiences we gain from practices we do during our dream time can then be brought into our daytime experience....Thus we can use our dream experiences to develop a more flexible attitude."(TT)

I remember two axioms that hit home with me several years ago while attending a 40 day Arica Training by Oscar Ichazo in Vermont...."The natural state of the mind is Void." And, "All is my own dream." I love this dream while developing an Open Mind and am very happy that we are in this life experience together, my friends.(JV)


Tarthang Tulku, formally educated in the Buddhist tradition in Tibet, is a pioneer in introducing the benefits of meditation. As founder of the Nyingma Institute, he is well known for his innovative programs in Human Development. His writings include, in part, "Gesture of Balance;" "Skillful Means;" "Gentle Ways to Successful Work;" "Time, Space, and Knowledge;" "Kum Nye;" and, "Love of Knowledge."

Author's Bio: 

In addition to teaching and practicing social work, I am administering and supporting an international community of certified partners of the 15-Minute StressOut Program for individuals, couples, groups, families, and communities; serve as Team Leader for Las Cruces, Health Promotion Team with Elders; and, facilitate stress management classes for US Army Community Services, Ft. Bliss, TX.