My first true meditation teacher was my karate instructor. We did all the regular things one does in a karate class. We learned to move with purpose, to understand the dynamics of how the energy moved in the body, explored the proper angles for attacking and for defending an attack, practiced fighting with a partner and learned katas. Katas are like dance steps to learn both the basic and advanced movements.

The most exciting part of the class was near the end. The students would line up in a row. The instructor would stop in front of each student and punch them in the gut. The students needed to sense the moment of impact and loudly shout ‘keeeeeeiiiiiii’ from the navel at the moment the teacher’s fist hit our stomach. When we got the timing right, it was fine since the sound we shouted would match the power in our navel with the power of the instructors punch. If we missed the timing, even by a fraction of a second, it would knock us on our ass. More than once I missed the timing and ended up on my backside a few feet behind where I was standing. Sometimes, the student was instructed to get up and prepare to be hit in the gut again. I remember one time I had to get up three times. It was a huge confrontation with my ego. It was a great practice to stay steady and relaxed and choose my response.

After everyone had received their punch, we sat in rock pose and were instructed to watch our breath and to meditate on the breath coming in and going out. I remember being surprised how calming and expansive this felt, especially right after the dramatic hit in the gut. It was clear the teacher valued this meditation as much as any of the other practices we did during class. I was so fascinated by this ‘meditation’ experience, I practiced it at home on my own. Of course, no one was punching me in the gut before I began watching my breath.

So many experiences in life look different when we begin to see the way they are connected. The future is not written, but there are predictable outcomes based on current actions. This is an excellent time to consider possible outcomes in this time when the CornoraVirus is affecting us all. I do not deny suffering, hardships, death, and struggles are part of this worldwide challenge.

Can you see positive changes in your life? I see this opportunity as a gift for those who have the courage to ask the question, “How can this experience make me a better person?”

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