My Introduction to Meditation

This letter was written by a meditator in prison.
The author reflects on his/her introduction to meditation.

Let me introduce myself: my name is B. V. and I am a prisoner in the prison in Prato [ed: Italy] with a sentence so heavy as to be unpronounceable. In my opinion it offends the dignity of man.

Even though I am held in such a 'dark' and 'gloomy' place, my friend N. introduced me to his teacher who then became our leader in discovering the wonderful world of meditation. I must add that I had never practiced meditation before, partly because I had no faith in such a practice and did not believe it could be of help. Thus, when N. asked me if I wanted to try this experience called meditation, I accepted rather diffidently because I was sceptical about the good it could do. In spite of all these doubts, one Monday, which I now regard as rather special, we met and were taught how to exercise the mind and strengthen our faith with this religious practice. What our leader said that day was: "You must free your mind of all thoughts, relax your body and breathe gently, then repeat calmly the word Maranatha." I asked: "What else should we do? Will we feel anything?" The answer came, with a smile: "All you have to do is to repeat Maranatha. The rest will come naturally." Indeed, after meditating for about thirty minutes in a group, including T. and N., nothing happened in particular that day; I received no special sensation that might have helped me change my views or, at least, shake my convictions.

After our session that day, there were others until one day our leader suggested we try to practice this moment of silent prayer twice a day for twenty to thirty minutes. I tried this repeatedly, partly out of curiosity, partly to please our leader and partly because I felt I needed to do so. Yes, I am being absolutely sincere, I did so wish to improve my condition as a prisoner that I would have tried any experiment that promised relief.

At first I meditated now and then, at irregular intervals, then with more and more regularity, and now I do so at every suitable moment: while I am running; or when I try to relax quietly on my bed; or even when I am waiting for a medical check up, for example; or before my family comes to visit me. Any occasion can be the right moment.

What are the benefits of meditation? I feel closer to Our Lord. If before I felt rather uncertain, this feeling is evaporating. My character, which is slightly cantankerous, is softening. I no longer smoke, after thirty years of this 'honourable activity.' Indeed, although I am now forty-five, I have to confess that I started smoking when I was ten.

Meditation has slowly improved me day by day, as Our Lord wishes, making me a more suitable instrument for God's will. I hope everyone may benefit from meditation and obtain the results they desire.

Thanks be to God N. has left prison having completed his sentence. T. is still overwhelmed by anxiety, but I am sure that sooner or later Our Lord, who is the God of victory, of joy and happiness, will not allow the darkness to prevail over the light. I pray and I hope this may happen as soon as possible. The Lord is behind the door. It is up to us to accept this and to open that door.

I am grateful for having been introduced to meditation. Alleluyah!

-B. V.

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