Life’s 13 Stepping Stones
The Story behind Life’s 13 Stepping Stones
Back in 2007, I decided to attend a 10 day Vipassana mediation retreat. I had not heard of this retreat until I was in a therapy session with my therapist. I had told him that I felt like I was ready to go through some type of internal transformation, and I had a lot of questions about myself…who am I really? He immediately replied, “If you want to get to know yourself then I suggest going to a 10 day Vipassana meditation retreat. You will get to know yourself very well after 10 days”. He continued to explain the 10 day retreat consisted of 10 days without any distractions – one cannot speak to or look at anyone, read, write…nothing, but meditate all day for 10 days straight. I was startled by the thought of attending the retreat. It sounded like a prison to me. I told him no way I could attend this type of retreat.
A week later, I was enjoying happy hour with a friend and a few of his friends. Out of nowhere, one of the friends brought up a Vipassana retreat he had attended some years ago. What a coincidence! How is it I had not heard of this Vipassana retreat, and all of a sudden I have heard about it twice within a week from two different sources? I was beginning to think it was not a coincidence, and it was a sign from the universe urging me to attend this retreat. I began to ask him questions, “how difficult is it to go the entire 10 days without any interaction with the outside world or with anyone? Does it feel like a prison? What did you get out of it?”. He advised it was a challenge, but the feeling you have once you complete it is something that can’t be explained. He explained me how much he benefited from the retreat, and he had attended the retreat multiple times. That evening I committed to myself I would attend the next available retreat.
Two months later I was in North Fork, CA at my first 10 day meditation retreat. If you ever discuss these retreats with others who have attended them, you will find that each person has their own personal experience. It is not the same for everyone. After two days of trying to mediate with the goal to not think, all of a sudden the face of my grandmother (who had passed when I was a very young girl) appeared in my mind. I did not get to know her very well, and I assumed she had not spent a lot of time thinking about me. I was very surprised to see her. For the next 4-5 days she would appear during my mediation and she would take me on a journey of Life’s Stepping Stones.
She indicated to me that all the stops along the journey were important stepping stones to remember. We were not allowed to write or keep notes during the retreat, but somehow coming out of the retreat I was able to have a detailed recollection of each Stepping Stone – all but one. It was interesting how she taught me the lessons of each Stepping Stone. Each time that she appeared, she would gesture me to follow her, she was wearing the same blouse, skirt and dress shoes that I recalled she wore when she was alive. I had forgotten all about her, but it was such a beautiful feeling to reconnect with her. Seeing the detail of her clothing and shoes took me right back to when I was a young girl and the time we had spent together. I had forgotten how much I had cared about her and she about me.
As we arrived at each Stepping Stone, I would see a short story or lesson appear before me. I would actually feel the meaning of each story/Stepping Stone…the message resonated within me. They were so profound and enlightening. Life made complete sense during the journey. Today as I go through life, many times when I step into a situation, the images of the applicable Stepping Stone, as it relates to the situation I am experiencing, will flash through my mind. And I get these wonderful feelings rush through my body indicating to me that I am connecting to the Stepping Stone, and that I should remember the lesson and the advice that was given to me.
Though it is difficult to articulate feelings and sensations in words, I have done my best to explain the lessons behind each Stepping Stone as they were taught to me by my grandmother.