—by Derek Lords New York, NY

It was the Spring of 1996 in Seattle, Washington, and my life could best be described by that old song by Hank Williams called “Lost Highway”, for I was definitely like a rolling stone, all alone and lost. I literally blew into meditation teacher Kris Jones’ apartment like a piece of dried-out tumbleweed for my first class, but she saw fit to teach me the meditation exercise in that condition. Without even knowing it, I had stumbled upon Ali Baba’s cave of splendors and the magic word was Thanks. The potential for a spiritual life became real for me in that moment.

Our meditation is the most precious gift that has ever been given to me, except, obviously, Life itself. How can I ever forget the experience of learning the meditation for the first time, or of what it looked like and felt like just to be in the presence of transcendental consciousness such as had only been described in the books I had read while searching for answers to the questions that plagued me. “Who am I?” “Is this it?” “Why am I so miserable inside?” “What’s the point?” etc, etc, ad nauseum.

There, sitting on a chair in front of a grand piano facing an alter set with pictures of Stuart, Rudi and Nityananda in Kris’s apartment in Seattle, Washington, I finally understood that the answers to all these questions was that I just needed training. Without realizing it, I was like a young pup who hadn’t been properly house-trained. I was pissing all over the furniture, so to speak. I was told the deepest of all teachings are transmitted in silence— and so they were— for this was a path of action and of results.

With just one breath Kris summoned such an enormous quantity of energy and a surgical focus. As the entire room became still and peaceful and silent, I realized in that instant that no matter what I had to do, no matter how long it took me, even if it took a year or a lifetime or ten lifetimes, I simply, absolutely one hundred percent had to learn how to do what I had just seen Kris do. I’ve never forgotten that moment or that state of being. I am reminded of that moment every time I sit down to practice this meditation, that endless quantity of energy and that stillness and focus are always there for me when I reach inside for them.

Today, I am still constantly amazed that this meditation exercise works so perfectly each time I do it. In the beginning, without that almost immediate and profound effect, I probably would have bolted like a rolling stone for the exits and stayed on the Lost Highway. For the last 14 years that feeling of loneliness and despair and confusion has never returned for me, and I don’t miss them one bit. One day at a time, learning what Stuart has to teach, I have become more and more capable of dealing with the challenges of my Life. Each step of the journey, I can draw upon energy inside and focus more and more, open my heart more and more and more. I still have such a long way to go but today I’m singing a different tune and it’s not “Lost Highway”. It’s more like “I saw the Light!” (Another Hank Williams song, by the way).

I am so grateful to my teachers’ living example to me. Thank you Kris, Stuart and Rudi for doing this meditation every day and showing me that it really is possible.