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, …”one who is breathing in a long breath, knows, “I am breathing in a long breath”; breathing out a long breath, she knows, “I am breathing out a long breath”; breathing in a short breath, she knows, “I am breathing in a short breath”; breathing out a short breath, she knows, “I am breathing out a short breath.” “Experiencing the whole (breath-) body, I shall breathe in,” thus she trains herself. “Experiencing the whole (breath-) body, I shall breathe out,” thus she trains herself. “Calming the activity of the (breath-) body, I shall breathe in,” thus she trains herself. “Calming the activity of the (breath-) body, I shall breathe out,” thus she trains herself”.
I pondered what makes a site sacred in each breath, and when I journaled about those life moments, I wrote about my connection there and then with the present moment. Observing my breath, my body, my feelings, my heart and my mind made those sites sacred for me. I think now of Thich Nhat Hanh when he writes, “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.”