Adam’s last couple of months in Ron’s garage haven’t been without its challenges. Ron had just moved in with his girlfriend Melanie a month before and decided to let Adam stay in the garage, even though Ron had planned to use the space to start writing about his time in Iraq.
Not only was Adam on pain medication to handle the excruciating pain of a severely broken jaw, but he had left a community of people–the homeless in Maui–that had given him a lot of support. Even though he now had a stable place to sleep at night and was back with his old friend Ron, the property was quite isolated and he found himself mostly alone for days on end. Occasionally he could arrange a ride to visit his mother, who was at home undergoing chemotherapy for her very advanced cancer. Because of some unresolved issues with his family, Adam did not feel comfortable spending too much time at his family’s home. Consequently he spent his time in the garage meditating, and self-medicating (with marijuana and occasionally mushrooms) to deal with fairly frequent panic attacks along with the PTSD symptoms he was experiencing from the attack in Hawaii. Luckily after a few weeks, Adam jaw is healing well; he is able to stop using the pain medication and learns that a second surgery won’t be necessary.
Adam’s panic attacks, though sometimes emotionally painful, are helping him to face and resolve past traumas. He looks at them as healing experiences that are confronting him with the lessons he needs to learn and in that sense, they “are beautiful”.
James Baraz has been teaching meditation for over thirty years. He is a co-founder of Spirit Rock Meditation Center and leads retreats and workshops around the United States and abroad. He speaks with us about how opening up to other dimensions of consciousness through mediation can be terrifying, but in the best of cases it does result in a deep sense of trust in the universe. He states how, in addition to meditation, it is important to have a guide who is familiar with the territory, has the tools to help someone deal with all the emotions that arise, and can be the loving presence needed for a spiritual emergence to lead to a healing spiritual transformation.