As soon as I hit the wards in the third year of medical school I knew something rubbed me the wrong way. Without clear understanding, intuition was forcing a path of less resistance to live well and prevent illness. Isolation, shame and resentment would underlie my career stress and motivate my redemption.
My first few years in sport medicine provided somewhat of a safe haven until the same unnerving sense of something missing provoked recurrent upheaval. The constant uncertainty found solace in a decade of researching mind-body medicine, eastern healing traditions, spiritual nutrition and mindful fitness. Desperate scribbling coalesced into a draft of a book entitled “The Meaning of Health”.
This coveted picture of health did not actualize readily into a life well lived. I became aware that profound change happens with profound experience. That insight led me on a round-the-world sailing adventure hoping to provoke the kind of near death experience that shakes things up. There were a few close calls but stunningly, mothering really happened. I was inspired to publish the book while accepting my fate of never living up to it. Something interesting happens though when you finally surrender.
A friend referred me to a 10 day silent meditation retreat she knew I would love. The website told me an impressive story of an ancient teaching supported only by volunteers and donations. The palpable integrity prompted me to sign up immediately.
Open-minded, I committed myself to follow the instructions precisely with no expectations. I experience ten of the most physically and emotionally gruelling days offered insights beyond anything known. The intellectual search was officially over with an experiential journey that promised a lifetime of inner learning. All career anguish was reconciled and forgiven. Gratitude and humility and unfathomed proportions made these the happiest days of my life.
This was the Buddha’s core teaching, an unadorned technique toward genuine health and happiness. Vipassana meditation, in this tradition of SN Goenke, gave me the keys to the rest of my life.
Dr. Gary Ratson