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Opening Doors, pt. 1

November 28, 2011

 Some make the claim that persons born with ADHD have been given a gift; for me it has been a curse. Since the first grade, learning had become pure drudgery. The world around me was a source of fascination from a very young age. What did it all mean? Why was the sun so bright? Why were the trees so green and swayed in the breeze the way they did? The world looked so vibrant in color and so active in its content. I wanted to know as much about the world outside as humanly possible. I wanted to travel and see different places and meet different people. As soon as I’d start the first grade, however, I would learn just how divided I would be from the rest of the world. My enthusiasm for the world did not match the problems I was facing for achieving the simplest feats: reading, paying attention, math, spelling, and even physical fitness. All of these should have been easy giving my eagerness to excel, but instead floundering in quicksand was all I could deliver. I would do well enough to get by, and I would finish each class each year and move on to the next grade, but learning would not come easy. Primarily an annoyance during my grammar school years, my poor reading skills and study habits, would haunt me up through middle school. Never during these times did learning become anything close to an adventure. Even after anticipating each new class with optimism, I’d end the course with a new sense of loss. Would my life ever lead to anything of interest? Was life going to let me create my own destiny?

At the beginning of my sophomore year in high school, my family and I moved to Southern California. Here would be a new chance to start everything over again and to find joy in living. My teens were presumed to be filled with bright sunshine, cloudless blue skies, beautiful girls, and an affluent energy that would influence anyone to take advantage of every opportunity that was available. None of that made any difference to the outcome to anything I did, because I found that I was unable to accomplish anything of substance. My reading rate was still poor (it sometimes took me a 1/2 hour to get through a couple of pages of text of popular books), I had trouble communicating with the local kids for even casual conversations. I had become very alone in paradise. I lost considerable confidence in my ability to talk to people. I had become afraid of my own failures. Failure was all I knew. Why my life had come to this was completely uncertain to me.

Over the course of my 20s, I had taken steps to undo much of the bad mental programming that was adversely affecting my thinking. The first order of business was to be able to read properly. Through the aid of a hypnotherapist, I was able to learn to relax accumulated anxieties that had formed as a result of the ongoing troubled years of grammar and middle schools. This immediately allowed me to read texts with little effort. I had no idea what had held me back all those yeas, or why I could suddenly read better; everything is still a complete mystery. At the time, I just felt as though a new door had been opened within me. Were all my problems over? Apparently not, since I still was unable to get a college degree nor find direction in my life.

This new mental clarity had peeked my curiosity to want to know more about the abilities of the mind. It was around the age of 24 I had discovered the practice of meditation and its benefits. I had learned this from a book I had bought called “How to Meditate” by Sebastian Temple. The book taught me further relaxation techniques, as had been learned some years earlier. Once in a deeply peaceful state, I could place all my attention at the Spiritual Eye, at the point between the eyebrows. Focusing on this spot is said to mentally awaken deep levels of concentration. Once the mind and body are completely focused upon the Spiritual Eye, a people can gain more control of their lives. People can become more attentive, and they can develop refined abilities to make important decisions. This was the exact practice I’d been searching for. It was like God had heard my prayers, and directly delivered to me the remedy that would get me there.

About 5 years later, I would find an organization that taught techniques in meditation.  It was located only about a dozen miles from where I lived. It was a religious organization called Self-Realization Fellowship. I wasn’t specifically looking for religion, but my discovery of this place became another door that would lead me to new ways of understanding everything about myself, meditation, and the universe I had been born to. We were simply to sit in a straight back chair, sit with our hands turned upwards on our laps, and to close our eyes. While meditating, we simply let the breath flow naturally in and out. We don’t try to control the breath. The body breathes well on its own most of the day. We just let it do so while sitting quietly in a straight back chair, with eyes closed, and we recite a mantra (a phrase that conforms to our breath patterns). The longer we sit, the more relaxed and focused we become.

Over a number of years of practicing meditation, my mind became more clear, more focused, my reading had improved some, and I was getting ready to do something new in my life. Most important, my mind seemed to be mentally lifted out of this fog that was clouding all my senses. It was just like being able to see perfectly after being enveloped in a fog for many years. When I heard something, I knew exactly what was said, and not something else. I was definitely being treated to something new–a new way of seeing things, comprehending things. I was finally on my way.

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