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The After Series: Meditation Revealed My Underlying Gratitude to be Alive

by Robin Galante

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We spend so much of our waking lives avoiding death—in more ways than one. When it comes to talking about the inevitable, it isn’t always easy. So the Orange Dot is aiming to shine a light on these stories, in hopes that it may help others. The After Series features essays from people around the world who’ve experienced loss and want to share what comes after.

I began using Headspace almost exactly a year ago. At the time, I had recently lost my mother and felt tremendous grief, coupled with a sudden, vivid fear of death—my own and that of those around me.

I began having panic attacks, and when I started feeling fearful, I would try and run from it. I would go online and google my symptoms and become convinced that I was going to die of a heart attack, or worse. But mostly, I would distract myself.

A friend recommended meditation to me. I had taken a meditation class before and loved it, so I decided to give it a go. I found Headspace and I’ve been meditating ever since (2463 minutes, to be exact, but who’s counting?).

The biggest surprise to me wasn’t the sense of calm and space that slowly crept into my mind. Nor was it the softening of my anxiety, or my increased ability to allow my fearful feelings to pass without holding onto them. The biggest surprise is the sense of gratitude I’ve been experiencing.

It isn’t a manic, crazy feeling. It’s more like a constant thread of contentment and thankfulness that runs through every aspect of my life.

I feel it when I’m preparing dinner, when I sit down to write in my journal, when I pet my cat, when I read a book with my husband next to me. I feel it when I’m driving to the grocery store, and when I’m working at my computer.

And this feeling has made me very lazy.

I mean this in a good way. I live in the U.S., and the pace of life here feels impossibly fast. Everyone’s rushing on to the next thing, looking for something better, setting new goals, striving, innovating. I feel like I’m sitting in the middle, watching it from the outside. I spend more time at home rather than out on the town and find an immense amount of pleasure in the smallest things. I have no desire to have more than I already have (bonus: I’ve saved a ton of money). I just feel lucky to be here.

I still feel anxiety from time to time, and I feel sadness and grief, as well. But these feelings don’t take hold the way they used to.

Meditation has brought me back to a place that I haven’t seen in a very long time, probably since I was a kid. A place where green grass spread out in all directions and summers lasted for what seemed like years. Where the trees in the back of my house seemed like wilderness and the big blue sky looked endless and mysterious to me. I’ve missed this place for a long time, but in fact, I was here all along. I just had to look.

. . .

Submissions for The After Series are now closed. We continue to explore and discuss mental health (and everything else that occurs around life and death) on The Orange Dot. To get a sense of what else we might be looking for, read our guidelines for submissions.

Robin Galante

Robin Galante is a writer, artist, and musician based in San Francisco, CA. When she’s not meditating, she’s probably illustrating a story or playing her guitar. To see her artwork and hear her songs, go to www.robingalante.com.

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