Healing through story

Tag: meditation

shortfiction24 – a meditation lost

The grinding of a landscaper’s wood chipper conjures images of horror movies in Carl’s mind as he attempts to do a morning meditation.

Everyone who meditates can appreciate how distraction seeps in to destroy the moment. Enjoy the story.

A Meditation Lost

Bob Gillen

Carl sits in the center of his living room in the early morning hours. Sun streams in through the east-facing patio sliders. He feels the warmth on his bare feet. Enjoys the light splashing over the floor and furniture. Appreciates the early silence.

He closes his eyes, takes five slow breaths. Inhale. Exhale. Carl breathes in the vanilla-scented candle burning at his side.

Becoming aware of his body, he starts at the head, the eyes, the jaw and neck. He feels tension there. Always tension in the jaw. He tries to release it. Not happening. Not yet.

Carl extends his awareness down through his torso. He pauses to acknowledge his heart. His constant companion. He calls on his heart for an attitude of openness and gratitude. He directs his awareness down until he can sense his feet planted firmly on the floor. More deep breaths. A feeling of warmth and openness quivers within him.

A loud droning pulls him out of the moment. From the upstairs condo unit a vacuum cleaner starts up. Grinding, sliding back and forth, back and forth. He tries to acknowledge the sound, be aware without judgement, without distraction. But he feels warmth and openness seeping out of him. 

Carl hangs in, calls on loving kindness, until the vacuum motor finally turns off. Silence again. He focuses on his breath once more. Inhale. Exhale.

Moments later another whining noise jolts him, this one off in the distance, yet stronger, louder, than the vacuum cleaner. The sound of a landscaper’s chain saw. Tree trimers. A wood chipper joins the noise. Chattering as the machine grinds leaves and branches.

Carl struggles to envision a peaceful place. A walk on a deserted beach. His feet nestled in the warm sand. A gentle breeze caressing his face. Anything to move his mind beyond the wood chipper sound. He focuses on his breath. Inhale. Exhale. 

Carl’s mind wanders. The chipper’s grinding conjures up images of horror movies. Victims tossed into chippers. Piercing screams. Bodies torn apart. Blood spraying everywhere.

Carl opens his eyes. One long deep breath. So much for meditating today.


shortfiction24 – the power of the universe

While Riley MacLean waits for her biopsy results, she muses on how the universe has impacted her life.

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The Power of the Universe

Bob Gillen

Riley MacLean sat on a rigid plastic chair in an exam room waiting for her doctor. Apprehensive about biopsy results. “Do you want a magazine?” the medical assistant had asked her. “He’s running behind. We’ve been swamped today.”

Riley chose to sit quietly, composing herself. Five long, deep breaths. Inhale. Exhale. Relax.

Riley believed in the power of the universe.

Two weeks prior Riley had sat here as her doctor explained they had found a possible carcinoma on her uterus during an MRI scan. He scheduled a biopsy to check. Riley felt confident. But doubt tingled inside her gut. Like the tiny sensation when an ant crawled up your arm. Barely there. But clearly present.

Riley practiced meditation daily. She was aware there are not simply the collected memories of her life, of the years behind her. More than memories. Physical bits residing in her body. In her sessions she often called upon the healing power of the universe. She will gaze up at the stars, marvel at the photos sent back by the latest telescopes and satellites.

Riley believed in the power of the universe. 

Now, in the exam room, she closed her eyes, seeking peace. Inhale. Exhale. Her mind wandered. Her childhood home on the upper west side of Manhattan came to mind. She often played in Central Park, climbing the rocks, watching horses go by on the bridal path, chasing squirrels that scrambled for scraps of popcorn.

In her body, Riley believed, she carried microscopic molecules of her life. A speck of rock from Central Park. An atom from the park grass. 

When she swam in the ocean, when she swallowed a taste of sea water, in that swallow a bit from an old sea turtle far out at sea entered her body. Now a part of her.

These bits, she believed, now worked to counter the cells her body did not want.

Riley had done a drive across country years back. Breathing in the air of dozens of states. Hills, mountains, lakes, plains. Grasses and trees. Maybe breathing in a speck of a firefly from Kansas, a bison’s atom from the west, a trace of water from Lake Tahoe, a molecule from the sand in Malibu. All of these, again, she called on to prevent the unwanted cells.

Riley believed in the power of the universe.

She had worked on Wall Street, first for summer jobs, then later in fulltime work. She ate her lunch in Trinity churchyard in the summer. A speck of residue from the grave of Alexander Hamilton resided in her. As did an atom from the guitar of a busker band in the nearby city park.

All of these microscopic bits nourished her body. Fed her. The molecules from non-living things were immortal, and resided inside her.

Riley believed in the power of the universe. 

She knew that the human body regenerates many of its cells periodically. Parts of us are brand new as we age. But she also knew that some of these cells, like the life rings on a tree trunk, remained inside her for her lifetime. And in these prevailing cells resided bits of her entire life, bits of her life experiences, bits of the universe. She was, at once, continually refreshing herself and also preserving herself.

Riley once heard Ray Bradbury speak at a book signing. She had been browsing when she spied the sign announcing the signing would start in half an hour. She had found a seat at the rear of the store, waited for Bradbury to appear. His adult daughter pushed his wheelchair in, Bradbury’s shock of white hair capping the image. At the Q&A a woman had asked Bradbury, What advice do you have for young people today? Bradbury had raised his shoulders, a gleam of passion sparking in his eyes. “We must go back to the moon,” he told the group. “Establish a base, go on to Mars and then to Alpha Centauri.”

And she felt, in her heart, that there was a sun far distant in our galaxy, far behind earth’s sun. That sun had, a long time ago, released a bit of ash into the universe. And Riley believed that that bit of ash drifted across the galaxy and settled in her lung one night when she took in a deep breath of cool night air. That speck unites her with the far-flung regions of the universe. Connects her to a power that is so far beyond her understanding. So far beyond her capacity to see. And yet she knows she herself is a speck in that universe. She too emits parts of herself when she exhales. She shares those life specks with those around her, with those perhaps miles away, generations away.

The power of the universe. 

A gentle knock and the door opened. “Ms. MacLean,” the doctor said, “thank you for your patience. A medical emergency this morning set us behind.”

Riley nodded.

The doctor sat, opened his laptop. He glanced at the screen. Smiled. Looked her in the eye. 

“No cancer.”

Riley believed in the healing power of the universe.


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