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  • Karl Thunemann

Seeking What I Really Wanted to Know

By Barbara Brachtl

My primary career, the one that has funded my retirement, was being a journalist. I turned life into words. And paragraphs. And skinny-column stories.

And yet, or perhaps because of that, by somewhere in my 40s it became clear to me that words and reason could not make me happy and, perhaps more important, could not answer what I deeply wanted to know—questions about What is this? What is the substance of this? What is the meaning in this? Where does it all begin and end? How can I wrap my understanding around this?

I began to explore meditation. I attended Self-Realization Fellowship with followers of Paramahansa Yogananda, and then took up studying and sitting with Seattle Insight Meditation and after that with a Zen Buddhist group at a Unitarian church. Most recently I sat with a group led by a Catholic nun who is also a Zen master.

Meanwhile, I was studying taiji—and through taiji experienced qi and began studying qigong. Qigong was very exciting because I was discovering a layer of reality that I had not thought existed, except in the minds of those living in la la land. Indeed, I was so excited about my discovery of qi that I began a blog about qigong and posted weekly for a couple of years. Now I hardly ever write for my blog because, while I continue to practice taiji and qigong, I find I have less and less to say. Which probably is not a bad thing.

I have lived in the same senior co-op where Karl lives for more than 5 years. Most of that time I’ve been a member of its Board. From May of last year through April of this year, I was Board president. I found I could not get to the wavelength of meditation. I stopped sitting with the wonderful Catholic nun and her group, because they all wanted to be better people and I did not want to be a better person; I just wanted to do what needed to be done. Is it possible to have an intense, political job where you must constantly guard your psychic loins and still have a meditation practice? I wonder.

But now I am merely secretary of the Board and feel more free. Winter is setting in. Perhaps it is time to go inside again.

COVID Grandma, to amuse her four grandchildren

Smiley Barbara 


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