I began meditating in 1988 after reading Siddhartha, by Hermann Hesse, in high school. Truth be told, I sucked at meditation. But I wanted to be enlightened more than anything. I became insatiable, reading every spiritual book from every tradition that I could get my hands on. I practiced and practiced and practiced some more.
A decade later, at 25 years old, I made up my mind to dedicate myself wholeheartedly to my practice. The problem of course was the house, the girlfriend of 10 years, the dog, the two cats and my job as a pipe fitter; a job that had required a five year apprenticeship to get to where I was. For a 25 year old, I was making good money. In my mind it was great money.
Despite my outward progress, I was tired. My mind would race. I wasn’t getting anywhere with my meditation practice. Something had to change.
I decided I had to leave everything. I left the girl, my highschool sweetheart of 14 years (by the time I left), sold the house, left the job and the animals. It was absolutely devastating but I was moving towards a new life–living at meditation centers with the intention of dedicating myself fully to the practice.
For the next 6 years I lived at various meditation centers, mostly in the Tibetan Buddhist Tradition, learning, practicing. Life was still there, of course. I fell in love again, people pushed my buttons, etc. I was making progress, but still, I had to go deeper. I ultimately ended up committing to a one year retreat, which was magical in so many ways. But, in the end, my mind was still suffering.
As karma would have it my teacher Mingyur Rinpoche, a Tibetan Master, visited within a month of the retreat. My stillness was still very much intact from the retreat. Rinpoche gave me what the Tibetan call “Pointing out Instructions”. And that was it. With those instructions, my seeking vanished. Just like that, I was done.
I don’t consider myself enlightened. Before that experience, I could have told you a lot more about enlightenment. Afterword. Nothing. It all went away. Rinpoche gave some instructions to “look” in a certain way. He had given several such instructions during the retreat, but this one landed with me in a way that I can’t quite describe. In an instant the rug was pulled out from under me. Concepts, beliefs, Buddhism, Dharma… the path… everything. It has been a decade since that experience.
I started teaching secular meditation with a naive hope that I could translate my experience to others. But I now realized there had to be a new way to reach those living the modern lifestyle. The way I learned was more traditional: give up everything, throw yourself into the teaching until you pop. That is just not an option to most.
But here is my one epiphany from my own experience: I never had to leave my old life in the first place. I could have woken up right where I was.
But how could I discover the necessary elements to practice and teach such awakening in our fast paced, modern society? I felt like I needed a bridge of some sort, especially being thrust back into the frenzied SoCal life. Working full time, teaching at night and on the weekend, in a relationship….juggling, like everyone around me. I need an outlet other than meditation that would help me wind down before I went into stillness.
I started painting and writing. Interestingly, through writing in particular, I was able to unravel the initial seed of awakening that was planted with Rinpoche. There were pieces that I could not express that were coming to the surface. I was discovering the bridge. Something I could offer to others, a doorway to stillness.
It was around this time I met Dr. Monisha Vasa as office mates at a mental health facility. Over time, we realized that we each had come across similar paths to truth, but from very different backgrounds. I was a plumber with a heart of a meditator and she was a psychiatrist with the heart of a writer. She meditated as well, and I wrote as well.
We began dynamic brainstorming sessions that eventually led to something neither of us could have predicted. A process that integrated decades of learning, striving, growing–both from the spiritual side, and from the medical world, wrapped up in a creative thread. The process, InWord, was powerful from the beginning.
All I can say is that if I had this back in my youth, I don’t think I would have needed to leave everything. Untold suffering could have been avoided. It is with this intention that we now share what we have learned and practiced with you. How you will use it, and how it will affect you, time will tell. I wholeheartedly hope you find exactly what you need.
Blessings – Cayce