On my trip to India, I visited Gandhi’s residence in New Delhi, where he spent the last years of his life before he was killed. His footsteps were circled in cement as he walked to his evening meditation, finding death instead. I stood in that same place and silence took over my heart in sadness, yet in celebration of his path. Observing the pictures of his life trajectory, I relived my passion for social activism through his eyes. Soon after, grief was lifted and I treasured his simple life. One day a week Gandhi chose to be in silence, and no matter who came to the door, or what situation arose, he stayed in solitude which had become his extended practice.
I also visited Deer Park near Varanasi, where Siddhartha Gautama, known today as the Buddha, taught the ins and outs of a meditative, skillful, all united body, mind, and heart. I felt connected to his devotion for a balanced, harmonious and wise life. I recommitted to the four noble truths regarding craving as the end of suffering, and the foundations of mindfulness through the contemplation of the body, the contemplation of feelings, the contemplation of consciousness, and the contemplation of mental objects. The words, “Sadhu, Sadhu,” ended his sermon, meaning well spoken. I walked away noticing my breath. Breathing out a long breath, I know. Breathing in a short breath, I know. Experiencing the whole breath in the body, I shall breathe in; thus I train myself. Experiencing the whole breath out the body, I shall breathe out; thus I train myself.
As I recall those moments in my writing, I reconnect with the power of now, no past, no present, no future. I follow my breath, my body sensations, my thoughts, my feelings and emotions, one at a time. The mindfulness of those moments made the sites sacred for me, and I am reminded of another saying by Thich Nhat Hanh, “Real solitude comes from a stable heart that does not get carried away by the crowd or our sorrows about the past, our worries about the future or our excitement about the present.”