Trauma of War
“I asked for a spiritual leader.
And he came, in the form of
For years I had driven by the Vancouver Bodhi Meditation Center, but never paid much attention. One day, while on a hike, I struck up a conversation with a young woman who told me about a meditation center she attended: the Bodhi Meditation Center. In April 2014, I walked in, and have since been with them. Coincidently, a month earlier I had moved into a condo building just a few blocks from the center.
Neck Pain and Cyst Gone
In 2003, I severely injured my neck. I had two recurrences in the following years that each required eight months of bedrest. Before I attended my first Bodhi Meditation 8.5-Day Health & Happiness Retreat in July 2014, I had hurt my herniated neck again and couldn’t straighten my head. By the end of the retreat, instead of spending eight months in bed, I was able to hold my head up straight and my neck wasn’t crooked. I was able to work. I hardly felt any pain and didn’t take Tylenol. I simply meditated a lot. For 10 years, I’d had a cyst behind my ear. After the retreat, I could feel it was no longer there. That was the physical improvement. Then there was the emotional recovery.
The Emotional Effects of War
I was born in Israel in 1964, the last of 10 children in a poor family. At the age of three, I encountered fear: the Six-Day War. I remember the sirens, the shouts to go to the bomb shelter, the panic. I remember lining up against a neighbor’s metal fence, listening to the fighter jets overhead, and the frightened children and the screaming mothers. From then on, my life was driven by fear.
In 1973, a war began on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, the holiest day of prayer and fasting in the Jewish calendar. I heard the planes overhead and saw men pulled from the synagogue to go and fight. We thought it was the end of Israel. We were anxious, traumatized and fearful. In the bomb shelters, we had to ration our food because we didn’t know how long we were going to be there. Some days we went without food. Every time we heard a siren, we lined the doors and windows with wet towels to protect ourselves from gas. I shut down. Life was survival and suspicion. I didn’t trust anyone. The person beside me could be the enemy.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
When I was born, Israel was a young country and for years the focus was on the country, not the people. No one knew, or cared to know, about post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), but all of us who experienced the possibility of being killed or bombed during wars suffered from it. I was so angry. I was angry at God that this was happening, angry at the synagogue, at my family, at the whole world. How could this happen? I was like a falling leaf; no love, only fear.
I remember a day in October 2007. I was in a bank when someone screamed, “Plane crash! Plane crash!” My heart began to race. I started to cry. I had no control over my emotions. I panicked. I realized that the reaction was due to my PTSD. I told myself that I wasn’t in Israel and there wasn’t a war.
I had another similar experience at a meditation camp in Washington. One day I walked through a dark field to get to the meditation building as planes flew overhead. I ducked down and then started to run out of fear and terror. For six days I couldn’t stop crying. The sheets on the windows were a reminder of the wars and the cluster of cabins reminded me of Holocaust stories. I couldn’t bear the suffering. It was like being in hell. I wanted to leave the camp, but stayed and continued to release the emotions.
My Heart Opened
I wanted to pull my life together. That’s when I started my wellness journey; that’s when the work began. I still carried pain in my heart for others. I cried and prayed for the violence in the world to stop. I asked for a spiritual leader. And he came, in the form of Grandmaster JinBodhi. After the first Health & Happiness Retreat, my heart opened. How did I know that? Because I walked over to someone who was lying on the floor and I asked him if he was all right. I noticed in that moment the difference in myself. I was so grateful. (I still ask for help to stop the violence in the world. Enough is enough.)
A Place of Love and Compassion
Today I am peaceful, free of PTSD. I’m open and I communicate better. I now come from a place of love, a place of compassion. I used to react when I was angry or fearful, an emotional reaction caused by PTSD. Now I am aware of my emotions and react appropriately.
When I first came to the Bodhi Meditation Center, I was so suspicious. I came from a country of war. People could shoot you. So I sat at the back of the room and cried every day for three weeks. I know now that I had to do this work so I could become a support for others. Now I am at the center just about every day after work and have built relationships with many people there. I love listening to their stories of change and life.
The Truth: I’m Here to Serve
Recently, I completed a Second Level Retreat. It was one of the most incredible retreats I have done in my life. We listened to Grandmaster JinBodhi’s teachings, received his blessings and sat in his compassionate energy. Through meditation I got off the treadmill and saw the truth — that I am connected to the Divine. Seeing the truth changed my perspective on what I need in life. I know I’m here to serve. I continue to study and learn so I am trained and prepared in the service to others, to help relieve their suffering, at my job and in my relationships.
When I spoke to Grandmaster JinBodhi through a translator, I felt such an incredible amount of immeasurable love. It was beyond words. We give nothing and he gives us so much. I thanked him profusely for his profound teaching. Every cell of my beating heart loves Grandmaster JinBodhi. He gave me my life back.