2014-03-06 18.54.41When it comes to writing, I have noticed that some times my mind likes to go on vacation. When I need to sit down and focus on my “real” writing, my mind will go blank. I will try to read a book or watch a movie for inspiration. I am still doing my “try something new every day” personal challenge. But when I sit down in front of the computer to work on my writing samples I…(insert sounds of crickets here).

Whilst playing tourist with my mother, I took her to my favorite bookstore in Pasadena, Vroman’s. The minute you walk in the door, there is actually a huge display of books to help writers. I was drawn to a cube-shaped book entitled “The Writer’s Block.” Each page offers ideas to get the creative juices flowing. For me, my inner child was drawn to the irony of the shape and title. If my inner child is inspired, then I will be inspired. But unfortunately it looked like many others were intrigued by this book because the spine was worn. This is where my adult OCD kicks in–you know the one that wants the books and boxes that look like they haven’t been touched by anyone else even though the outer appearance has nothing to do with the inner content. I went to the information desk to see if they had any other copies of the book. With the worn out spine version before me being the only “Writer’s Block” in the store, they offered to order me a new copy.

Fast forward four days and I receive a message that my order had arrived. When you order a book at Vroman’s, you pick it up at Will Call on the second floor. The second floor is also where they have speakers and book signings. On this particular day, they were setting up for a book signing. I noticed a display with a Buddha head and I was instantly intrigued. I picked up my order and inquired about the upcoming event. Much to my delight, I learned that Shamar Rinpoche would be there to speak about meditation, mind training and signing his book “The Path to Awakening.”

Shamar Rinpoche is the 14th Shamarpa, or Red Hat Lama of Tibet. He organized the Bodhi Life Path Buddhist Centers in 1996 (the same year I graduated from high school and moved to California). The Bodhi Life Path Buddhist Centers are “a network of centers based on a non-sectarian approach to Buddhism. The curriculum of Bodhi Path centers is grounded in the teachings of the 11th century Indian Buddhist master Atisha, as they were transmitted by Gampopa. Atisha’s methods are the most effective for taming the mind and deepening wisdom, and in addition can be taught and employed in a secular way.”

After listening to Shamar Rinpoche talk about his book, meditation and his Bodhi Life Path centers, I realized that this is the next step in my personal growth process. I have struggled with anxiety, depression, insomnia and other afflictions because of my own cognitive thought processes. My mind often gets stuck in a loop, I overthink when I should relax and let it be, and I struggle to shut off my mind for meditation and sleeping.

I was third in line to get my book signed and when I approached Shamar Rinpoche, my nerves took over, allowing my basic knowledge of Buddhist customs to escape my mind. I did remember to bow but then I reached out to shake his hand, instantly thinking “oh shit, what did I just do?”

But with pure grace, he shook my hand and simply said, “You are new to this practice, yes?”

“Yes. I have tried Shambhala meditation but I only heard of your Bodhi Life Path today.”

He signed my book then picked up one of the Bodhi Life Path Buddhist Center information cards and wrote his own personal email address on the card.

“This is my direct email.  You read and if you have any questions, you send me an email and I will help you.”

A Tibetan Buddhist Monk…the 14th Shamarpa just gave me his personal email address and offered to personally help me with my mind training and meditation techniques.  Was this really happening?  I was told that I have “Divine Guidance” helping with every aspect of my life, was this proof?  This is what I needed.  I need to work on mind training and meditation techniques.  Did the Universe really just put me in the right place at the right time to hear what I needed to hear to help me fix what I need to fix to get to where I need to be?