News: from Lorna


The rooms and the media are awash with talk about the death of Philip Seymour Hoffman - such a horrible loss for us all.

Many who are not in recovery, and I must say, many of us who are, are often amazed that someone with "time" goes out and picks up again. No matter how many times we hear that it's a progressive disease and that sobriety is a daily reprieve contingent on ones spiritual condition, there's that undercurrent of thinking that time is somehow a bulwark against the storm of the disease.

We hear all the time that the most important person in the room is the newcomer. I heartily agree. But I feel a newcomer is someone in their first 80 years.

When I had twenty years I distinctly remember thinking, "Well, that's a start." I felt exactly the same way when I hit thirty years, now that I'm well into my fourth decade, I believe when I've got about 105 years, I'll maybe "have" it.

On another note: Following is a story I presented to NPR's Moth Story Telling radio hour.

When I first embarked on a meditation practice I believed the whole point was to keep the mind still. The mind like is a high speed computer and with lightening speed it hurtles from one thought to another so trying to wrestle it into submission was mentally exhausting and useless.

Then on a visit to Churchill Downs in Kentucky I was fascinated by watching films in the museum of all the great races but of particular interest was the films about the jockeys.

A jockey typically weighs around 108 lbs soaking wet, the horse - a compact mass of strength and speed, weighs at least 1400 lbs. There is no way that jockey can match his physical strength to that of the horse.

But when horse and rider are charging down the track at forty miles an hour, engaging in one of the most dangerous sports, the jockey is in control of that thundering animal and he does it by applying his calf's pressure on the horse's side, and by his hands which are like feathers on the reins and with just the gentlest of movements he signals the speeding animal into the desired track and it obeys.

I realized my mind is like that horse - hurtling at amazing speed into the future, the past, rehashing, rehearsing, redecorating, planning. There is no way I can control, by sheer will, such a force.

However, taking a cue from the jockey, I've discovered that if I apply a gentle attitude, and softly return to the breath instead of trying to force and yank it back to the present moment, I can guide the mind more easily onto the right track and eventually it settles down.


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