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Mindful : April 2014
The eighth grade was no picnic. Like a lot of 14-year-olds, I felt isolated and confused. Where to go in life? And the combination of pulling away from my parents and dealing with my peers didn’t help. Were my friends g rappling with the same stuff I was? How could I know? I could barely name it for myself. My mom made a proposal: “ You and your brother should try a mindfulness retreat.” If I hadn’t seen over the years how she herself seemed different after her occasional retreats at the Insight Medita- tion Society (IMS)—when she came home, her eyes seemed filled with what I could only describe as joy—I never would have ag reed. But my brother and I did agree. So we headed off to IMS, full of skepticism a nd with a promise that if we didn’t like it, mom would come get us. It was strange when we arrived. Everyone seemed a little too nice. But our fellow teenagers seemed pretty normal, so we both decided to give itago. Over those four days, a kind of magic started to happen. The world became much more vivid to me. I walked in the woods after the morning meditation and stared at the sharp, bright greenness of the pine forests. It was like my eyes had been polished. I remember the smell of the floors of the old bowl- ing alley in the basement and the smooth feel of those floors under my feet. Examining the nature collages on the windowsills—sculptures of feathers, mossy sticks, leaves and rocks—I was awestruck. Not by how special they were, but by how simple, and by how my own attention to them revealed their beauty. I didn’t put it all together right then, but something in me realized that the sa me kind of at tention to the elements in my daily life revealed a beauty lurking there as well. Our teacher, Michelle McDonald, said that when we get a taste of a peaceful mind, we accept each moment just as it is. “ We’re set on our course. We see the way.” Goodness and worthiness are the way we are. Being exposed to this idea at an early age transformed my life. I started to see the goodness in the people around me. My brother seemed to become a different person right before my eyes. Our friendship grew strong during the afternoons of free time we spent lying in a ha mmock, laughing together. In the evenings the teachers offered talks woven with persona l stories. One I’ll never forget is → When all of our lives are so similar and yet so different, where can we look for guidance? As Jessica Morey has learned—and what she now teaches to teenagers—the best guidance is discovered in ourselves. health April 2014 mindful 61