YK Hong’s 365 Release: Day 341

A few years ago, before I became the blissful person I am today, when I was in a very dark time of my life and therefore I was attracting many negative energies about me, I was held up by gunpoint at a store in my neighborhood.

I went in to pick up one item. I can’t even recall what that object was, but I remember it was a commonplace object like shampoo, or a tooth brush, or saline solution for my contacts. Something that needs replenishing at regular intervals and therefore requires a trip to that particular convenience store, at regular intervals. There were only a few people in the store, it was 6pm, and I walked up to pay for my item. I remember standing at the checkout counter next to a man who was also paying for his items.

Two young men walked in with bandanas around their faces, they were over-adrenalized and nervous, and much in the way a camera focuses from blurry to sharp, words that were flying around me became clearer, “Get down on your knees or I’ll blow your head off.” I remember putting my shampoo, or toothbrush, or whatever I was about to pay for, on the counter, and kneeling very slowly. I also remember one of the boys holding a gun to my temple, with a gun that seemed too large for his small stature. The other young man with the gun was guiding one of the employees to open the store safe.

I remember, precisely, what I felt in my body. My heart was racing and I remember my breath. The only thing I focused on was my breath. There was nothing else going through my mind. Just that I had to breathe in and out. In and out. My mind did not have the capacity to think further in that moment, than my breath. I had my eyes open but I kept them in front of me looking at a spot on the floor, and just breathed in and out. And I found peace in knowing I had only to breathe.

After they acquired the cash from the safe, the two men fumbled out of the store. And I sat there for a few seconds, just as I had been when there was a gun against my head. Then I rose and looked in the eyes of the 3 people who were also being held up. It was acknowledgement that we were living. Shortly thereafter the police arrived, conducted their inquiries and I went home.

The very next day I returned because I still needed whatever it was I had come to get. That toothbrush, shampoo or saline solution. I remember thinking consciously that I was returning to the same location and also thinking life moves on. The woman who was working behind the counter was the same woman from the day before and she looked at me, surprised. She said, “I saw the surveillance video, you looked so calm.” I remembered smiling at her simply because we were both alive at that very moment. I bought my item and left. I still go to that store regularly for those same items of daily life.

This happened not too long after I was in a car accident (see Day 37) and in hindsight I understand the universe was trying to save my life. I was being so destructive to myself, through my own decisions, through the people that were in my life at the time. The universe did everything short of killing me to let me know, that if I kept going the way I was headed, I would indeed end up dead. This is why now, I always talk about how the universe will keep slapping you in the face until you listen. The universe has the best plan for each person to be blissful, we need only listen. I wasn’t listening and the universe found the best way to slap me.

Today I’m giving away the wallet I had with me that day. The two young men with guns who were robbing the store were so nervous, they forgot to take our wallets. On Day 341 of my 365 Release practice for non-attachment, letting go and change, I am letting go of something I that connects me to a memory of my own impermanence. Things are nothing compared to death. A toothbrush, shampoo, saline solution. Even though some days I’ve struggled with letting go of certain objects throughout this project, in the end, I understand things are nothing.

I think about how it makes complete sense that serenity came to me at a moment when I was faced with death. I also note that the breath, which is my most important tool in my mindfulness practice, that simple act of breathing in and out, changed my entire life through meditation. Meditating while focusing on our breath teaches us that life is as impermanent as a breath. Death teaches us to appreciate life. It is when we realize life is fleeting, that we can begin to live it. We will all die, so we should all live right in this very moment. One breath at a time.



[I created the 365 Release Project to practice non-attachment, letting go and change by giving away 1 thing a day for 1 year. The background, vision and guidelines to the 365 RELEASE project are here. The running list of everything I have released is here.]

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