I learned about meditation as a youngster, but it wasn’t until around 2004 that I started going to the Dharma Punx group on Friday nights in SF (the Back of the Bus) and hearing the dharma talks there in a language I could understand and with people that looked like me that I really felt exposed. It became my path when I learned to walk again as a sober man in 2014.
I became exposed to the dharma when I was dealing with chronic pain. I was required to meditate as part of my treatment, and at the time I couldn’t relax any of my muscles. But the meditation helped me learn to relax. My massage therapist told me it was as if I’d switched bodies. That change was so profound that I got curious about what else meditation could do for me.
My first exposure to Buddhism wasn’t significant. In fact, it was a turn off. A man who claimed to be Buddhist visited our high school and basically told our class his goal was to become a heartless robot. Well, not entirely, but pretty much… There wasn’t any joy.
Nothing seemed to fit, however, until I began to be introduced to Buddhism. At first it was Insight Meditation, and then I moved to a town where the only Buddhist community was a Tibetan Buddhist Center.
I walked into Against the Stream Nashville Meditation Center in January 2012, shortly after coming out of rehab for alcohol dependence. It was suggested that meditation could be helpful in further recovery. I remember in one of the first talks Dave Smith mentioned that, sitting was just sitting. Whether you were in traffic, the motor vehicle department or sitting comfortably on your own couch that the experience of sitting was all the same.
I was more connected to the teacher than the teaching at first. I had a vision of a teacher, in the way you generate a visualization of a deity during some Vajrayana practices, while the lines of “Crying to the Guru from afar” started playing in my head. I had only ever read the text once, so was quite surprised to learn that I had memorized it.
Retired Lawyer from Portland, OR. In the fall of 2004, a friend asked me to attend with him and I did. The first time I went, I knew I would return. Not sure I would call that experience knowing this was the path for me; what I knew at that point was that being able to stop talking, to be away from being an “expert”.
I am not sure exactly when I first became aware of the dharma path, but my first brush with it was through reading Thich Nhat Hanh's Beyond the Self a translation of the Sutra on the Middle Way. At the time I had been in recovery for about 10 years and had a sustain spiritual practice of self-reflection and service, but I had never been exposed to the truth of Dependent Origination.