I am Home: An Account of Awakening

I am Home

An Account of Awakening

Hiromi Sieradski started attending the Center regularly in 2005. This is an edited transcript of Hiromi's account of her life and spiritual practice leading up to her Awakening in March 2017. This talk took place at the CSS practitioners meeting on the evening of September 26, 2018, in Eugene, Oregon. Thanks to Sheila Craven for performing the transcription of the recording.

Joel: Now we are going to have the heart of the evening. Hiromi is going to give us an account of her awakening. I think many of you are already familiar with Hiromi. She first came to the Center in 2005. She took a Foundations course under Fred in 2008. And then in March of 2017 she had an awakening. She came to me and told me about it and we talked, and we have talked a number of times since.

As is my custom now, if people have an awakening, I advise them to wait about a year or so to see how it all settles out. Sometimes people have just a flash or an episode or it’s a unity experience and passes quickly. After a year of talking to her more, I’m convinced that she’s had an irreversible, life-altering transformation. She then is in a position where she knows what reality is. She’s had first-hand realization of it. So she’s in a position to be a full-fledged teacher. So when that happens, I invite someone in that position to come and give an account of awakening.

By the way, a number of people have had awakenings at the Center and not wanted to be Center teachers, and have gone off to teach on their own or, for various reasons, didn’t want to teach at all. The people who are teachers here aren’t necessarily the only people who’ve woken up at the Center. It’s not a judgment about how many people have woken up, or something like that. It’s simply for the sake of you that someone comes for a confirmation of their realization. So it’s part of the lineage we pass on, and you can have more confidence in them if someone else that you trust has now given that seal of approval. It has nothing to do with my judgment about her awakening. Truly speaking, we’re all our own authorities. If your search is over and you wake up, that’s it. You don’t need anybody else’s confirmation. So this is only for your sake that this process unfolds this way. Having said that, I’m going to turn the floor over to Hiromi.

Hiromi: Good evening, everyone. Thank you so much for coming here tonight. I’d like to dedicate this talk to my parents because without their love, I wouldn’t exist. And I’d like to dedicate this talk to you all at the Center. Without your support, I wouldn’t have a foundation to keep on going. So thank you.

I’ve struggled with love and when I started writing songs, they were always pain songs, hurt songs. I was wondering when I would have something else. Now I want to let you know I do have love songs. So this is how I will start. I’m an extreme beginner, so don’t expect concert level.

(Plays ukulele and sings)

Thank you.

So, I want to give you a short background so you can understand me a little bit better. I was born and raised in Japan, a city called Miyazaki in southern Japan. My parents were Pure Land Buddhist, and they also used Shinto. It was interesting. I wasn’t sure if I was Shinto, or I was Buddhist. I was sent to Catholic kindergarten because my house was closest to the Catholic kindergarten. My life was not quite one way, and look where I ended up: here! I’m third in my family, the youngest, so I spent a lot of time at my grandparents, especially my maternal grandparents. They lived in a city called Aya about half an hour away from my home town. I spent a lot of time in the bamboo forest exploring. I spent a lot of time in the river with my grandpa when he went eel fishing. It was the place that I really lived naturally and in harmony with the seasons. I felt really loved and I felt free. I watched my grandmother live a very spiritual life. She would copy the Heart Sutra. She would practice that. I’d watch her doing that as I was growing up. Also she would make me in charge of offering food to the Buddha ancestral altar in the morning, so she would prepare this dainty, little breakfast bowl, and I would take it in, and it was my job to bring it back after dinner. Without making me do something extraordinarily important, she really got me prepared for what it’s like to live with the divine in her life. I didn’t have to be told. Or showed. Because I did it with her. And she brought light everywhere she went. She’s my goddess, my wonder woman. She passed, and I think of her and I’m grateful that she really helped me have a foundation for what it looks like to have a spiritual life.

Then, I have to share that my experience when I was growing up was that the way people discipline their children was through physical punishment. So my parents, my school teachers, my piano teacher all used physical punishment as a way of discipline. So I was surrounded by that kind of energy through school life up until I think high school when I didn’t experience any physical punishment. So until middle school I experienced that, and I’m making this point because this made my body react in a particular way. I didn’t think anything of it. That was the way of life and I accepted it.

In the middle of that, my aunt, my father’s second youngest sister — who spent one year in London when she was young, and so she spoke English — taught me three words when I was probably around five or six: “Hello.” “How are you?” “Thank you!” I remember, I was little, I remember this vibration I felt inside of me. I did not know it, but I knew it meant something to me and I was going to really go after that. So, when I had English class in middle school, I was pretty happy. Although I didn’t do well in class, so I was given an opportunity to have a private English conversation tutor. That really helped. Then I was telling my parents I wanted to go to America and I wanted to study there. I wanted to study psychology there in English, not in Japanese. So in 1991 I came here, and I turned twenty-one a couple days after so I got to experience the bar. My host family took me to a bar then. I was really blessed to have my host family. Without their help I wouldn’t be here. They really taught me how to survive. How to navigate in this country. I didn’t even know how to catch the bus. Like, what is that string? It’s so barbaric, you pull a string instead of pushing the button. I was was used to hearing the announcement of the next stop. None of that here. You’re supposed to know when to pull the string to get the bus to stop. I had a lot to learn. Very different system and my host family really taught me how to do that.

My host brother, he just got back from a mission. He was a Mormon missionary. I got really involved with the Mormon church, and I actually got baptized. I did read the Book of Mormon, I studied the Scriptures, I read the Bible, I did the whole Christian life thing. And it was very helpful to be in a safe environment right after coming from a very conservative traditional household in Japan. And extremely conservative parents. Going into another environment that was totally in my bubble for me and safe. I enjoyed that safety that I felt in that organization, and I appreciated studying about Jesus, which I didn’t know much about before. That was good, but I knew inside: this is not me. I’m not going to be going through this food canning, and not having coffee. Those are very small things, but I just knew I’m a Buddhist by heart, so that didn’t work out and I went back to Japan.

After being in the States for four years, returning was pretty rough. I experienced reverse culture shock. I struggled to speak. It was a very interesting experience, being a stranger in your own country, feeling foreign. Then I knew that nothing was there for me. So I convinced my parents, and I chose Evergreen State College, in Olympia, Washington, because that college had a sister university relationship with a university in my hometown, which I had nothing to do with. However, it was a good excuse for my parents to feel some kind of connection with my hometown. So I used that and it kinda worked.

So I started my third year at Evergreen. I was able to transfer my credits, and I studied and learned about hippies. I was a naïve Japanese woman. I didn’t know what a hippie was. It was interesting to be immersed in a strong politically active environment. Just hearing a comment like, “I’m not gonna wear a Nike T-shirt! I’m not gonna give out a free advertisement!” It never occurred to me to think that way. It was like, I just wore a Nike tee-shirt because it looked cool. That you have a political belief and that’s why you won’t do certain things was a very new way for me to be at this very liberal university.

There, I met my husband, Matt, in my senior year in a multi-cultural psychological counseling class. He obviously changed my life, for good. My fear was that partnership would be boring. I never lasted in any relationship more than three months when I was dating. So I was afraid it’s gonna be so boring and how am I gonna deal with that? But he never bored me. Always excitement. Almost opposite.

This is when I learned what Buddhism means. I thought, is this the same Buddhism that I was raised with? It was that different. I just thought of Buddhism as ritual practices because my parents had so many rituals that they had to do every year for so and so’s thirty-year death anniversary, fifteenth, there are so many, I can’t keep up. I was always the one who had to stay home, help cook, clean the house and get ready for the ritual. Afterwards was the ritual feast, which was my parents’ job because they were the elders in the family. So we were always in charge of making it happen and I was their worker bee, so I hated it. That was the main reason I wanted to leave Japan. I wanted to be away from that ritual.

Then I met Matt and he was somebody who was not living a religious life, but he had a spiritual life. I didn’t know there was such a word. Religious was the only word I knew. The spiritual life he led was something so precious and so sincere. That’s how things started to shift for me, to learn about Buddhism.

Then I got disowned because my parents were upset that I was in a relationship with an American. I didn’t know my parents were racist, in a way. But they grew up in an era where when they were little children the second world war was going on, so I’m marrying somebody from an enemy country. Now I can really understand, but back then I just was thinking how dare you to just regard somebody that way? I was very hot-headed. I only thought, it’s so mean. He’s the same, he just speaks a different language. But when it came to their own daughter, it was not something they could accept. So I got disowned by choosing love. But I knew if they’re gonna be that way, I don’t want that kind of family. So I just accepted that. But my uncle, my father’s youngest brother, was the one who really helped convince my parents (especially my father) that if he didn’t accept this marriage, then he was going to lose his daughter for good. I think my uncle really felt that urgency. So he was able to convince my parents, and I got their blessing for our union. I have to tell you, after that, there’s been nothing that difficult. It was the hardest thing, the hardest thing that I had to really go through, to stand up and say, “I’m not coming back. I met somebody. I love him. I’m gonna live here because I found love.” My parents couldn’t really understand. They came this last summer and visited us here. I think, honestly, it took them twenty years to really know Matt, who he really is. Because they really couldn’t see him. Now they saw him in his own environment, and they really appreciate him so much, his sincerity and honesty and the love that he brought into my life.

My son was born, and then Matt discovered this spiritual teacher wearing a poncho, and he happened to live in Eugene. Oh, my gosh! He’s right here! And Matt showed me Joel’s poncho picture and said, “We’re gonna move to Eugene because I want to study with this guy.” I’m like, “Are you crazy?” I grew up knowing fancy Buddhist robes. I’m sorry, Joel, no offence, but somebody with a poncho? I’m just thinking, “What do you see in him?” I had no idea. But he pointed out to me, “My parents are in Eugene as well. And you’re gonna have an extended family, and it’s gonna be great for kids.” Sure enough, I was struggling with my baby, so that made sense, and I wanted my kids to have the same kind of relationship I had with my grandparents. So we moved, and then came Mina, my daughter, and I struggled with post partem depression. It was hard having two babies.

In the middle of that difficulty, in 2010, Matt woke up, and our family continued to shift. This was also a time when I started to feel union, what actual union feels like through love making. I have to say it was the first experience of divine union I felt. That’s why I wanted to share this with you.

While I was hiking with Andrea after Joel’s retreat in Lone Pine, there came a message to me to take the Buddhist chaplaincy training. So I went to Upaya Zen Center in Santa Fe, New Mexico. That’s where I took the two-year Buddhist chaplaincy training. I studied with many world-famous Buddhist teachers and was exposed to lots of books. And this is where I discovered neuroplasticity and neuroscience. I didn’t know how much of my way of being, like experiences of intense anxiety, were influenced by my childhood trauma background. So I decided I had to really practice this neuroscience, and I really took it on, and that became part of my practice as I went through the chaplaincy training. And I practiced every day. When my kids screamed, I practiced grounding and resourcing. And that started to change my nervous system reaction. I would finally stop losing sleep over something I was so anxious about. That made a change. So in my path, trauma healing is very important because I had a very strong background in that. I can’t say that for other people, but for myself it was very important to really look at my trauma and not to just talk about it, but let it come through me, using this body. That was the beginning of a major shift. I think around that time I finally dropped my judgment over not liking meditation. I hated meditation. How could you just sit still and just totally bliss out? It never happened for me. It was so uncomfortable. I left Japan so I didn’t have to do this. And I supposedly chose my own way, and it was just very humbling. It started to change. I practiced resourcing and grounding on the meditation too, so I could handle the pain, and it really made my practice manageable, and I dropped that judgment. It really helped. I just did it because I had to do it in the chaplaincy program. It was part of the requirement. After everybody left from the house, I would sit for half an hour. And then I would chant the Heart Sutra. I just did it, just like I brush my teeth every day. And that changed my strong dislike of meditation. I realized how much I was putting tension in the sitting posture. I was so stiff I couldn’t breathe. So relaxing my body really helped me. I didn’t know how much I was stiff, internally also. My mind was really stiff. There was no room to breathe and sense into the stillness.

Then I decided I wanted to be on the street after the graduation from the chaplaincy training. What that meant was: I would live on the street like a homeless person for four days. I really wanted to do it just to see how much I was willing to be open, myself. So the hardest part was to convince my husband on this, because he knew what that meant to be homeless at night. He did not want me to do that. It took me three months to convince him. He knew I wasn’t going to give up, so he gave me a blessing and I got to go. I cannot believe how liberated I felt. Just carrying one dollar, my I.D. and a hefty bag. I did not know what the hefty bag was. I had to ask and somebody told me, “Oh, it’s a brand, but it’s a garbage bag.” In fact, the only thing I could carry to this retreat, and yup, that and a blanket you can carry all the time. I was very scared, but being on the street, once you’re there, and open yourself up, it was like a treasure hunt for me. It was interesting. All the other homeless people were so kind. And the woman at the Starbucks who gave me free coffee. I said, “Can I have a coffee?” and she looked at me and said “Okay.” Then I said, “I don’t have money.” And she looked at the other co-workers and then said, “Okay.” But I didn’t have the guts to say, “I would like it with coconut milk.” (Audience laughs.) I just took straight black coffee, but I was still grateful. So I was very grateful to experience that kind of acceptance and the help I received from fellow people on the street. That really liberated my experience. I’m no longer afraid of being poor, not having money. I can survive. I tell my kids if something happens, we can just go to the shelter and we can totally survive. I know how to get around. Hopefully that won’t happen, but I feel liberated, in that sense.

Then, when chaplaincy training was over, I needed to find a way to figure out my life. So I decided I’m going to go to the Center meditation retreat. The first day, on the way to my breakfast, I slipped and broke my ankle. I could not get up for three months. That was a true blessing in my life. I’m not kidding you. I’m not exaggerating. It was nothing but blessings. I learned to really feel the sensation. I was no longer able to check out, disassociate the discomfort I would feel. Because my bones ached so intensely that I had to be there in my body; to hunker down and just be with it. That practice was incredibly intense and took courage, but I felt I experienced bliss. I was really with that intense bone-ache sensation. I followed that sensation and that took me to bliss. I could not believe it. “Oh, my gosh! I am beyond this pain body.” That was the first time I experienced bliss through the pain. That level of intense pain.

So this injury gave me an extended retreat until further notice. I took a vow to live as an expression of Dharma. I was not going to let this ruin my life. That vow was really important and really helped me to practice. I practiced all the time. Oh, my gosh, you’d be so proud of me, Joel. (Joel laughs.) It’s too bad you could not see how much I had to really practice everything I learned here—liberating your thought, liberating your emotions, really being with sensation. Cry if it hurts. If it’s frustrating, cry. It was so liberating. I learned to be with this body in that process.

Then I wrote my thesis and graduated from the chaplaincy program and satisfied all the requirements to be ordained as a minister from Roshi Joan Halifax, this being my goal for the last two years. I was so looking forward to it. But I extended myself too much, doing too many volunteer jobs with many organizations, so I got sick. I got the flu. I could not make up my mind, so I sent an email to Roshi Joan. She told me, “My dear Hiromi, a good chaplain will have good self-care skills. Take care of yourself.” May I accept my limits with compassion. That was what she gave me. So my marriage with Buddha was gone, like that, for now. I felt like my marriage really got cancelled. I really felt devastated. I decided I’m gonna just go to bed and mope. That’s what I decided to do on March 2nd.

On that day, the homework for Matt’s practitioners group was an excerpt from Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche’s book Intelligent Heart. I thought, at least I’m gonna be a good student and at least I’m gonna do this homework. Then, I’m gonna still mope. So, I start reading this excerpt, where he uses an inquiry of cat poop. He’s looking at the cat poop and he’s in this beautiful garden, and a little bit irritated, annoyed with that. So he used that example. And I used my devastation to go back-to-back with his inquiry. And as I read, “… it has no substance whatsoever. None of our thoughts and emotions have any essence …” Poof! I disappeared into light. I was gone. I was gone. I’m nothing. Then I am everything. It was … words will not describe that moment of discovering of this being, that light. I am home. I have been home. I don’t need to search anymore. It was … It was such a relief. It was such a relief. Oh, my gosh. I’d been searching for this all of my life. And I started to wail. I never wail. I cry relatively often, but I never wail. I never knew what it meant to do that. But the wail came. I just cried really loud. Luckily nobody was home, so I was able to let it out. It lasted for a long time. I let myself finish wailing — it just came through me — then my body felt sort of comfortable and peaceful and started to feel like, oh, something good’s happening. There’s something happening in me. It was then that innate bliss totally filled my body. I blissed out in this innate bliss, it just spread in this body form. To be precise, I wrote it down: 9:45 A.M. to 10:17 A.M. on March 2, 2017, that I had this whole process. I was just lying on my bed. Then I texted Matt: “I realized there was nothing to lose. Dwelling in ocean of spaciousness. At last I returned home where I knew of my being. I’m relieved. This human experience. So colorful. Just precious. Thank you. Wow! Now I feel fantastic infinitely.” That’s what I wrote after I went through this whole thing.

Lastly, I want to talk a little about stillness touch, which is what I practice now. It’s a biodynamic cranial sacral touch. The reason I’m mentioning it is it’s really helping me to go through this unveiling process quickly. I came across this practice totally randomly, yet spontaneously by going with Matt to Mexico to meet his teacher, Charles Ridley, the founder of Stillness Touch. I just went because I wanted to heal my ankle and get the sunshine and hang out at the beach. I let my heart navigate and I was invited to sit in for the session. So I did and I experienced guided meditation by Charles. It was like, Oh my gosh, this is wonderful. I feel something. I’m in something here. I wanted to know, so I sat in on his session, and Matt gave me a session first hand, right after the guided meditation. I was naturalized in this session. I realized I am beyond this form, this ancient being. It was old, and timeless. And complete peace. It really stabilized my back and forth, back and forth. Stabilized my resting in my heart instead of my mind. I was able to live from my heart. So I let myself go through this session, and I received also a session from the teacher, Charles. And I “pooped out my mind from my head” when he gave me a session. I’m sorry, there’s a lot of talk on the poop, but it was an important part of my processes. When my mind oozed out, it rested in my heart and turned it into gold. This golden light. And dissolved. And I was in peace that I never felt. Over and over, this stillness touch helped me to be in this body and accept the intensity and paradox. And go through this form unveiling and keep returning to the true nature. For me, the stillness touch was really important. It really helped me feel Goddess in myself. I feel I’m using this body as love to connect with you who are in the form of love as well. I feel incredible gratitude for having this body. I never appreciated body, so this is a first time in my life I’m appreciating and not asking for a tall body, I’m not asking for skinny face. I’m happy with what I have and grateful that I get to connect with others, as in you and me, this form. It’s been amazing and it’s the first time in my life I’m in love with my life. And I appreciate small things that I never appreciated. So it’s been a lovely process for me to go through.

I really appreciate all of you coming here tonight and listening to my talk. Thank you.


Questions and Answers

Joel: Don’t go anywhere. You’re in trouble now. Do you have any questions for her?

Q: When you talked about the trauma that you had in your body, was that from the painful discipline you received?

Hiromi: Oh yeah. Definintely. There’s a lot of trauma. My go-to was to check out, to disassociate and not be in my body. So, it was important for me to be in this body and feel this body, so what’s stored in my body could release. Now meditation is wonderful. I enjoy it. I can truly say, you have hope, you know, if there is somebody like me who really doesn’t like meditation, there’s hope, because I really didn’t like it.

Q: Was the stillness training before you woke up, or in the middle of it, or after?

Hiromi: After.

Q: I was just reading about the Dalai Lama talking about enlightenment and saying that to start with you get a flash of enlightenment and you go back to your regular life, and then again and again. And finally you can be enlightened in life. Have you had an experience of that?

Hiromi: All the time. I have not reached freedom completely yet and I continue to unveil. But the speed changed since my openings. I think it used to take a lot longer for me to recover or realize that I had just forgotten again. That’s quicker and I can say a lot quicker. I think the texture feels different for me. It’s not as sticky. I had so much judgment. So now it’s like, oh, I just yelled at the kids. I forgot. I’m not really resisting this process, you know, beating myself up. That kind of thing. The glue has loosened, so I feel like I can notice a lot quicker. So I’m definitely going through the process.

Q: So you feel like that trauma that you experienced still comes up at times, and you have to look at it and let it go? What is that process like?

Hiromi: For me, there’s a thought, “I don’t want to feel this. It’s too much.” And I notice that first. It’s kinda easy for me to go with the thought, “Okay, I’m just gonna let that go.” Then, I feel my body and usually I’m really really tense in my gut, I’m cinching my pelvis. So I’m preparing for the pain to come somewhere. This used to be my position (Hiromi bends over a bit). I still have that, this movement. So, I’m noticing, “Okay, I’m just gonna be there. Hang out.” So just be with that sensation. And it just sometimes moves through and it’s just textures and sensations that shift throughout. It’s kinda interesting, if you ever get a chance to be with that, try it because it’s really interesting. It does not feel like one sensation for me. It moves and shifts, and then dissipates. You let it dissipate and then you feel this complete change in your physical being. So the trauma release happens. So you get the jitters. You cry, nose bleeding, you burp. I had a lot of burp. All kinds of things happened to release what was stored in my body. I went through quite a bit. Sometime I still go through some of the things. Really old, just very subtle, still there. So I notice that. I think Stillness Touch is like meditation, and Stillness Touch is definitely helping me to be witnessing that process without backing out. Because I was too scared to just feel that. As a kid, it was so painful, so painful, not only physically, in many ways. So I would not want to feel. Nobody had to tell me, but I would just check out, somewhere. So I learned to do that and I had to learn to come back. My ankle injury really helped me to be in this pain and be in this body, not escape, and experience and let it come through. After you go through this kind of release, then your body gets integrated and your response over time changes. I’m telling you this is a major reason I decided to come out also. Because truth is so kind. I thought, okay, well, I’m not tall. I have too round face, I don’t speak perfect English, I’m a woman, I had so many criteria, I’m not gonna be on the same level as everybody else, even consider enlightenment or awakening. There was a strong message that I had in my head that would not be deleted. I’m not good enough to be on the same level because I had this trauma background. So I get too anxious. I can be on the same level as Matt or somebody else. That really did not help. To me really knowing myself, understanding myself, become intimate with all those parts that I really hate. That was really important. And be transparent. I said everything, so now you know everything.

Q: Do you think women wake up differently than men? Do women have certain obstacles that must be faced?

Hiromi: I’m a woman, so I speak from a woman’s perspective. I think because we’re built anatomically different, I also heard my teacher Charles talking about how women have the energy of absorbing. So, we absorb a lot of what’s in our environment. So, we are very sensitive to that, naturally. Because it’s how we are built. And we are the form of love, that goddess that brings life into this world. We have that capacity to do that as women, so I think we have a much easier time connecting with the nature and flow of this life and being this divine play. The more we can relax our mind, our heart, also I would say pelvis, this is an important piece for me. My pelvis was always tense and closed. That did not help. That is not how you can really feel the love in this life. To me, anatomical differences are there.

Q: Thank you for sharing your story. So, you had the intense bone ache in your ankle, and you had that bliss experience, you realized you’re beyond the pain body, then at some point you took a vow to live as an expression of dharma. I have two questions. One is what motivated you to take that vow? Then, you said you practiced all the time. I’d like to hear more about your practice, when you did it. Was it when you were on the couch with the broken ankle, or was it even after you recovered, and lived your daily life as usual?

Hiromi: I am a stubborn person. I wanted to look good, so supposedly I had to practice what I’d been taught here. There is a little bit of that resistance always, because as a child, I never was considered a smart girl, and I was never good enough. The place that I possibly can do better, I want to do good. So I wanted to practice and not ruin my life. I wasn’t gonna give up my life; I’m gonna use this to collect more gold. It’s for my own family, too. I wanted them to see how I’m not going to let this destroy my life, and be really depressed. And then your second question was?

Q: Tell us about your practice.

Hiromi: My ankle hurt all the time. I didn’t have to search for an opportunity for practice. It was there. It hurts all the time, and I would say, “Okay, I’m gonna feel the sensation.” If I did not pay attention, if I’m looking to my thought, it hurt. So that’s thought, and I dropped that thought. Without your mind, it’s just a sensation. I’d just be with the sensation and watch how it moves. I’m gonna investigate, like Joel would say. I’m going to investigate how sensation moves. Sometimes I’d do that, and sometimes I’d just take Tylenol. It was a good practice. Or, I’m gonna ask Matt to give me acupuncture, because it really hurts. You have to learn to be realistic. Pay attention is what I would say. I started to pay attention. Like I didn’t want to ask for help. I had people’s names in our kindness network. But I just hated to ask. Because I did not want to get rejected. That’s gonna happen. But I was so afraid of rejection. That’s like saying, “I hate your guts. I don’t love you.” It’s very silly, but I had that message in my head. So I had to really see that. It was like, very silly, but it’s there. When I saw that, I realized, okay, but you’re giving them an opportunity to practice, too. You’re giving, even though you’re receiving. That really made a shift. So I got more thicker skin. I can take the rejection just as it is. They have a life, too. So that kind of practice, more than looking—witnessing. Noticing. The other thing was through this injury, there are so many things I discovered. I could not stand the look that I got with crutches or the cane. I just could not stand that look. I just wanted to disappear. I realized people don’t know what to say. I had people come up and say, “I’m sorry that happened to you. I had that happen to me too, and I see your cool peg-leg thing.” Then I’d say, “Yeah, this has been my life-saver and it’s cool, right. I’m really lucky I found this.” So you start a new connection there. I discovered Tamarck Pool and so many people there for rehabilitation reasons. It was so humbling. My injury is like nothing compared to some people. It made me very humble. I learned so much from talking to some of those people, telling me what I could use to go through this process.

I feel more connected with people in general that I’m not just judging by how you appear anymore. I used to think, “You people are meditating for so many years. I would never be on the same level, and you’re so perfect, and you’re blissed out in your perfect posture, and I’m thinking oh gosh what am I gonna do and blah blah blah. So I used to just think that way about most of you. Seriously. (Laughter.)

So it’s been very humbling and connecting with life in general. I don’t need to do a lot of things to feel joy. I say, follow your bliss. That is what really got me through everything. That’s what Matt keep telling me and I follow that and I am in bliss with you. Right here.

Thank you.

Joel: So now I have a question for all of you. Do you want her to be a teacher here?

(Audience applause.)

Hiromi: Thank you.

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