Exactly a year ago, I appeared at the doctor's office experiencing chest pains. After a brief conversation and some poking and prodding, I was sent off to the Emergency Room. A survivor of heart disease, with two stents in my cardiac arteries, it seems "better safe than sorry" was the maxim of the day. I wrote about the experience the next day and, still kicking a year later, I would like to share it again here.
When you see this, you are free from fear. "
-- Thich Nhat Hanh,
No Death, No Fear
I'm certainly grateful that the subject of Death has been a focal point of Practice, study, and conversation in my life recently, because yesterday I found myself in the emergency room of the local hospital with oxygen tubes at my nostrils, wired to a couple of machines listening to the someone crying down the hall. I hadn't recognized that sound as crying until the young woman who arrived to take blood samples said, "She's really having a hard time of it." I had just experienced the sound as another background sound among the whirrs, buzzes, clicks, and beeps of this busy small town medical center.
Surprised, I answered that I was fine and she proceeded with her tasks, labeling the vials. I closed my eyes and relaxed into meditation again, being present to the sensations of my own body and breath, then resting in the vast spaciousness of open awareness. In a few moments I began Tonglen again.